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Alcohol and Health

Alcohol and Hashimoto's Disease: Everything You Should Know

Published:
August 11, 2023
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10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
August 11, 2023
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10 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
August 11, 2023
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10 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
August 11, 2023
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10 min read
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Reframe Content Team
August 11, 2023
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10 min read

Ever feel like your body's playing tricks on you? That’s what Hashimoto's Disease can seem like. This condition is a bit of a medical mystery: it’s yet another case of the immune system going rogue and attacking the body instead of protecting it from outside invaders. When the immunity wires get crossed, all kinds of trouble ensues — and alcohol can make things even more challenging. Let’s explore the science behind this connection.

What Is Hashimoto's Disease?

Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system gets overzealous and attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid controls many of our body's functions, like metabolism and energy levels.

Hashimoto's Disease is named after the Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto, who first described it in 1912. He spotted patients whose thyroid glands were enlarged and exhibited specific changes, including chronic inflammation and an influx of particular immune cells.

Back in the early 20th century, this was groundbreaking stuff! It took some time and a lot of research to realize that the immune system was attacking the thyroid gland, mistaking it for an enemy. Over the years, the understanding of Hashimoto's Disease evolved, and it became recognized as an autoimmune disorder.

Thanks to advances in medical technology, the diagnosis and management of Hashimoto's Disease have come a long way. Today, blood tests can easily detect antibodies that signal the disease, and treatment typically includes thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

The understanding of Hashimoto's Disease continues to grow, along with awareness and support for those who live with this condition.

What's Alcohol Got To Do With It?

Alcohol might seem like the life of the party to some, but when it comes to Hashimoto's, it's more like a party crasher. Let's break down why.

  • Thyroid function. Consuming alcohol, especially in large quantities, can seriously interfere with thyroid function by influencing the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Some studies suggest that alcohol can lead to elevated levels of thyroid hormones, like triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). In contrast, other research indicates a decrease in these hormone levels. This discrepancy might be due to differences in individual responses and the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol — a known toxin — can also damage the thyroid gland directly by causing structural changes that may impair the gland's function. Moreover, heavy alcohol use can interfere with the way the body absorbs and uses iodine, potentially influencing thyroid hormone production.

  • The immune response. Alcohol's not content with just bullying the thyroid. It takes aim at the immune system too. This makes the already-tricky situation with Hashimoto's even more complicated.

In fact, drinking alcohol with any autoimmune disorder can spell trouble. Chronic heavy drinking is a known immune suppressor, leaving the body more susceptible to infections. On the other hand, even one night of heavy drinking can lead to an "immune overdrive,” making the body overreact to pathogens.

  • Inflammation. Moreover, alcohol can trigger inflammation by releasing a rush of cytokines — proteins that the immune system uses for communication. While a little inflammation helps protect the body against injury or infection, chronic inflammation can lead to tissue damage. And since many autoimmune conditions are characterized by an overactive immune response and chronic inflammation, alcohol can push these processes into overdrive.

What's the Verdict?

If you're living with Hashimoto's, cutting back or quitting alcohol might not be a bad idea. It's like decluttering your health closet. That said, everyone’s response to alcohol differs slightly from others’. Listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider.

What You Can Do

  • Monitor your body. Keep an eye on your drinking patterns. Reflect on why you consume alcohol and how it makes you feel. Does it make your symptoms worse? Could you do without it? You're the best judge of what's right for you, and journaling about these thoughts and feelings can be an enlightening exercise that will help you better understand your habits and their impacts.
  • Understand thyroid basics. Familiarize yourself with what the thyroid gland does and how it impacts your bodily functions. Understanding the role and importance of this tiny gland can give you insights into your symptoms and triggers, empowering you to make better health decisions.
  • Decipher your blood work. Regular blood tests are part of life with Hashimoto's, and the results can often feel like they're written in another language. Take the time to learn what these values mean, from TSH to T3 and T4, and how they relate to your wellbeing. Knowledge is power!
  • Join the club. Connect with others who understand your journey. Look for local support groups, online communities, or organizations like the American Thyroid Association. It can be hugely comforting to share experiences, tips, and triumphs with others who are on a similar path.
  • Explore alternatives. If you're looking for something to sip at dinner, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options that won't get in the way of your health goals. Alcohol-free doesn't have to mean fun-free! There are so many delicious non-alcoholic beverages available now. From sparkling kombuchas to herbal teas, alcohol-free wines, and craft mocktails, there's a world of tasty drinks that won't affect your thyroid or immune system.
  • Start a gentle exercise routine. Regular exercise helps manage Hashimoto's symptoms and boost your mood while reducing alcohol cravings. Try low-impact activities like yoga, pilates, or walking — they’re all gentle on your body but effective in keeping you active.
  • Get creative with stress-busting. Stress — as well as chronic conditions such as Hashimoto’s — can sometimes drive us towards alcohol. Instead, discover new, healthier ways to deal with stress. You could try meditation, yoga, painting, dancing, or even hula-hooping! The idea is to find a fun, relaxing activity that helps you unwind without the need for a drink.
  • Chat with your healthcare provider. A candid conversation with your healthcare provider about your alcohol consumption and how it impacts your Hashimoto's disease can be eye-opening. They can provide personalized advice tailored to your situation, taking into account your medical history, current health, and lifestyle habits.

So there you have it — the basics of alcohol and Hashimoto's Disease. Whether you're thinking of quitting or just cutting back, remember that your body loves being in balance. If you give it a chance to function at its best and listen to the subtle clues it sends you along the way, your body will reward you. Stay informed, stay happy, and keep going!

Ever feel like your body's playing tricks on you? That’s what Hashimoto's Disease can seem like. This condition is a bit of a medical mystery: it’s yet another case of the immune system going rogue and attacking the body instead of protecting it from outside invaders. When the immunity wires get crossed, all kinds of trouble ensues — and alcohol can make things even more challenging. Let’s explore the science behind this connection.

What Is Hashimoto's Disease?

Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system gets overzealous and attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid controls many of our body's functions, like metabolism and energy levels.

Hashimoto's Disease is named after the Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto, who first described it in 1912. He spotted patients whose thyroid glands were enlarged and exhibited specific changes, including chronic inflammation and an influx of particular immune cells.

Back in the early 20th century, this was groundbreaking stuff! It took some time and a lot of research to realize that the immune system was attacking the thyroid gland, mistaking it for an enemy. Over the years, the understanding of Hashimoto's Disease evolved, and it became recognized as an autoimmune disorder.

Thanks to advances in medical technology, the diagnosis and management of Hashimoto's Disease have come a long way. Today, blood tests can easily detect antibodies that signal the disease, and treatment typically includes thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

The understanding of Hashimoto's Disease continues to grow, along with awareness and support for those who live with this condition.

What's Alcohol Got To Do With It?

Alcohol might seem like the life of the party to some, but when it comes to Hashimoto's, it's more like a party crasher. Let's break down why.

  • Thyroid function. Consuming alcohol, especially in large quantities, can seriously interfere with thyroid function by influencing the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Some studies suggest that alcohol can lead to elevated levels of thyroid hormones, like triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). In contrast, other research indicates a decrease in these hormone levels. This discrepancy might be due to differences in individual responses and the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol — a known toxin — can also damage the thyroid gland directly by causing structural changes that may impair the gland's function. Moreover, heavy alcohol use can interfere with the way the body absorbs and uses iodine, potentially influencing thyroid hormone production.

  • The immune response. Alcohol's not content with just bullying the thyroid. It takes aim at the immune system too. This makes the already-tricky situation with Hashimoto's even more complicated.

In fact, drinking alcohol with any autoimmune disorder can spell trouble. Chronic heavy drinking is a known immune suppressor, leaving the body more susceptible to infections. On the other hand, even one night of heavy drinking can lead to an "immune overdrive,” making the body overreact to pathogens.

  • Inflammation. Moreover, alcohol can trigger inflammation by releasing a rush of cytokines — proteins that the immune system uses for communication. While a little inflammation helps protect the body against injury or infection, chronic inflammation can lead to tissue damage. And since many autoimmune conditions are characterized by an overactive immune response and chronic inflammation, alcohol can push these processes into overdrive.

What's the Verdict?

If you're living with Hashimoto's, cutting back or quitting alcohol might not be a bad idea. It's like decluttering your health closet. That said, everyone’s response to alcohol differs slightly from others’. Listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider.

What You Can Do

  • Monitor your body. Keep an eye on your drinking patterns. Reflect on why you consume alcohol and how it makes you feel. Does it make your symptoms worse? Could you do without it? You're the best judge of what's right for you, and journaling about these thoughts and feelings can be an enlightening exercise that will help you better understand your habits and their impacts.
  • Understand thyroid basics. Familiarize yourself with what the thyroid gland does and how it impacts your bodily functions. Understanding the role and importance of this tiny gland can give you insights into your symptoms and triggers, empowering you to make better health decisions.
  • Decipher your blood work. Regular blood tests are part of life with Hashimoto's, and the results can often feel like they're written in another language. Take the time to learn what these values mean, from TSH to T3 and T4, and how they relate to your wellbeing. Knowledge is power!
  • Join the club. Connect with others who understand your journey. Look for local support groups, online communities, or organizations like the American Thyroid Association. It can be hugely comforting to share experiences, tips, and triumphs with others who are on a similar path.
  • Explore alternatives. If you're looking for something to sip at dinner, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options that won't get in the way of your health goals. Alcohol-free doesn't have to mean fun-free! There are so many delicious non-alcoholic beverages available now. From sparkling kombuchas to herbal teas, alcohol-free wines, and craft mocktails, there's a world of tasty drinks that won't affect your thyroid or immune system.
  • Start a gentle exercise routine. Regular exercise helps manage Hashimoto's symptoms and boost your mood while reducing alcohol cravings. Try low-impact activities like yoga, pilates, or walking — they’re all gentle on your body but effective in keeping you active.
  • Get creative with stress-busting. Stress — as well as chronic conditions such as Hashimoto’s — can sometimes drive us towards alcohol. Instead, discover new, healthier ways to deal with stress. You could try meditation, yoga, painting, dancing, or even hula-hooping! The idea is to find a fun, relaxing activity that helps you unwind without the need for a drink.
  • Chat with your healthcare provider. A candid conversation with your healthcare provider about your alcohol consumption and how it impacts your Hashimoto's disease can be eye-opening. They can provide personalized advice tailored to your situation, taking into account your medical history, current health, and lifestyle habits.

So there you have it — the basics of alcohol and Hashimoto's Disease. Whether you're thinking of quitting or just cutting back, remember that your body loves being in balance. If you give it a chance to function at its best and listen to the subtle clues it sends you along the way, your body will reward you. Stay informed, stay happy, and keep going!

Ready To Start Your Healing Journey? Reframe Is Here To Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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