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Alcohol Use and Thyroid Relationship

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Introduction

Through the years, alcohol, which can be in many forms such as beer, wine, or liquor, has been given a bad reputation.

During the Prohibition Years of the 1920s, alcohol production was illegal, but that did not stop countless individuals from making the substance in their own homes and some even in their bathtubs!

When it is used in moderation, alcohol does not result in negative issues for the body. But, when alcohol is misused or used in excess, it has been linked to many negative health effects. Statistically speaking, when alcohol is taken in mass amounts, it is considered to have the 3rd worst risk factors of disability, disease, and death in the world.

Not only does alcohol affect the heart, the brain, and other vital organs, but also with the thyroid, too.

The Alcohol Effect

Even though alcohol can be used as a suppressant to help ease the ‘stressors’ of the world, alcohol has a lot more detrimental effects than positive ones.

Research shows that 60 diseases are a direct result from alcohol and 200 more are indirectly connected to alcohol. Countries with a higher-income spend more on alcohol because of the flexible spending they have at their disposal.

Furthermore, over 50% of people who drink alcohol regularly live in the United States of America, and over 20% of that number are specifically Native Americans. That amounts to over 60 million Americans who drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Of those 60 million, about 10 million of those people live day-to-day in alcohol dependence. This excessive use of alcohol results in a dependence that is chronic, and costs healthcare companies almost $3 billion dollars per year.

It is amazing what could be done or changed with that amount of money that is being sucked into healthcare cost due to alcohol.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland that is centered around a human’s neck. Many researchers and doctors symbolize this gland as looking like a tiny butterfly.

Specifically, hormones are created with the thyroid’s help to enable the human body to stay happy and healthy.

There are two types of hormones that are created by the thyroid: T3 and T4. T3 is an active hormone that controls metabolism, while the T4 is a storage form used throughout the body. The thyroid literally interacts with each and every cell in a human’s body.

Its jobs include metabolism regulation and working with countless systems within the body. Also, the thyroid helps people with their weight, digestion, the way their skin looks, the calcium absorbed into the body, sleeping better, and relieving and ridding people from depression.

But, what happens when the thyroid is not working properly? Does the human body just shut down?

If the hormone ratio is skewed, a thyroid can become underactive, which is called “hypothyroid,” or overactive, which is called “hyperthyroid.”

Both of these thyroid issues can be detrimental to a person’s health, and alcohol is a big reason why the thyroid acts up.

The Thyroid’s Reaction to Alcohol

Reportedly, alcohol causes many negative consequences when linked to the thyroid gland. Alcohol actually suppresses the thyroid by limiting the response time of its hormones to the rest of the body.

This is also the case if someone is withdrawing from alcohol. Not only does alcohol suppress the thyroid, it can lead to thyroid cancer as well.

Because of the potent chemicals in alcohol, its effects are far reaching through the entire body.

The reasons these chemicals affect the body is due to its reaction with the hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid or the HPT.

These three separate body functions, that are all linked together for the good of the body, are impacted by alcohol.

Research has proven that alcohol slows the creation of T3 and T4 hormones, while diminishing type II 5’-deiodinase. Type II 5’-deiodinase converts T4 hormones to T3 hormones.

Whenever alcohol is overused in the body, the thyroid will not convert T3 hormones as often as it normally would. This causes a reduced amount of T3 helping through the body, and could lead to hypothyroidism.

Hormones are blocked because of the over consumption with alcohol. Even weeks later, alcohol can stall hormone reproduction.

Alcohol Consequences

Excessive drinking can really cause havoc to the thyroid.

Not only has alcohol been shown to cause impaired driving, but it also can mess up test results by medical professionals.

For example, a person with alcohol in their system, even if they haven’t had a drink in weeks, can be examined by a doctor, and many trained in medicine will not be able to pinpoint an issue with the body.

This is because alcohol can still effect working functions in the body weeks after a person’s last drink. Some of the effects of alcohol include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Nervousness and Irritability
  • Throwing Up
  • Uncontrollable Shaking

The scary thing is that withdraws from alcohol can lead to patients seeming fine when it comes to their thyroid.

This causes confusion to a doctor’s diagnosis of a patient’s issue.

So, when doctors are diagnosing a patient, they have to be very careful and aware if the problem involves alcohol.

It is possible that physical, psychological, and physiological issues could be a part of the problem, too, because detoxifying someone from alcohol can really open up a blanket of negative possibilities including thyroid issues.

Ultimately, the thyroid is hurt by alcohol because of how the substance interacts with estrogen.

Estrogen disruptions affect the body in three different ways. First, estrogen, spurred on by alcohol, suppresses a person’s thyroid because of phyto-estrogens.

Phyto-estrogens come specifically from alcohol.

There have been studies done on rats connected with phyto-estrogens. To start, rats’ ovaries were removed, which helped stop estrogen production, but alcohol was able to replenish and overwhelm a rats’ body with estrogen, even when they were ovaries-less.

This proved that estrogen levels and the thyroid were connected by alcohol use, and estrogen can either elevate or suppress the thyroid production.

Secondly, estrogen creates a new enzyme when alcohol is thrust into the process. This is called “aromatase,” and it becomes more and more prevalent in fat cells. It starts by pumping more testosterone into the body.

However, this only pushes the estrogen creation causing more blocking properties to the thyroid.

Now, a thyroid, which should be creating more hormones, is actually lagging far behind in what it was meant to do. When more testosterone is created in the body unnaturally, it does mean overtime that testosterone levels will be lowered from this point on in a patient’s life moving forward.

This is because the body converts testosterone and androgens (other male hormones) into even more estrogen. Today, this is one of the main reasons why people have lower than normal testosterone levels.

Most of these same patients have thyroid issues to boot.

Lastly, alcohol burdens an individual’s liver function.

As estrogen levels continue to be out of whack, the body tries to equalize the levels by removing the excess estrogen in the body. However, alcohol in the body puts stress on a person’s liver and this makes the estrogen detoxification process less efficient than normal.

With estrogen, still in the body for longer periods, the thyroid will only continue to malfunction. Normally, the creation of T3 from T4 hormones happens within the liver, but with alcohol calling the shots, the liver becomes less and less productive and useful.

This means that even if a patient does not abuse alcohol, but they have either Hashimoto’s or a hypothyroid, the liver will not be able to dilute alcohol properly.

Alcohol also affects the body in other ways by adding a thiamine deficiency (which is directly correlated with Vitamin B1), increasing prolactin (which aids in helping women produce breast milk after childbirth), lessening progesterone (a hormone that helps the body to get ready for childbirth), and interrupts the handling of blood sugar (which regulates a person’s diet).

As you can see, this disruption can affect the body in more ways than one.

Ways to Take Control of The Thyroid

A person’s tolerance to alcohol varies, but, more often than not, weight determines how much an individual can drink. Someone who weighs more has a higher tolerance with alcohol than someone who weighs less on average.

But, when it comes to a thyroid issue, alcohol intake should be limited to 2 drinks or less on a weekly basis. Some doctors even encourage patients to consume more fructose when drinking alcohol to help counteract issues that could flare up with the liver.

Fructose, after drinking alcohol, helps slow toxicity within the body by helping the liver metabolize the substance quicker. Statistics show that fructose can actually metabolize about 80% of alcohol that enters the body.

This significantly aids in helping protect the thyroid.

Of course, the best way to protect the thyroid completely is by not drinking alcohol at all.

The World Health Organization, or the WHO, records alcohol as being one of the top 5 issues for death, dysfunction, and disease in the human body.

So, if individuals take their health for granted, alcohol not only affects the thyroid, but one’s life and quality moving forward by destroying and not allowing oxygen into cells.

Changing Up the Beverages

A lot of people struggle to find other beverages to replace their need for alcohol, but if you are not dependent on alcohol, you should try some other drinks that help and not hurt your thyroid.

No matter if you live in an area where it is hot or a location that is cold, there is a beverage to support everyone’s thyroid.

Consider trying a smoothie, hot chocolate, green tea, or chai tea to boost the thyroid to success. There is even a drink out there called the “Hypothyroidism Miracle Drink,” and it not only enhances the thyroid, but also serves the body with extra doses of Vitamin C, and anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory helpers.

If you are a fan of cranberries, then you will absolutely love this drink. Other drink ingredients that aid the thyroid include allspice, ginger, cinnamon, coconut milk, cacao butter, water, and coconut sugar.

Not only are these drinks great for your thyroid, but they also support relaxation, calmness, and can be low in calorie intake.

Conclusion

It is so crucial that people are weary of the amount of alcohol they drink each week because it could very well affect their thyroid in the short-term and long-term.

In this case, less is more, and stopping alcohol all together could save your thyroid from many issues down the road.

Since your thyroid has many health properties, it is in your best interest to keep your thyroid functioning effectively and efficiently for years to come.

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