Effects of Coffee on Thyroid Medication (How it Affects?)

effects of coffee on thyroid medication

The thyroid gland, situated in the frontal area of the neck and right beneath the Adam’s apple, is responsible for releasing hormones that manage many functions like metabolism, and growth and development of the body. Interferences caused in the gland or secretion of hormones can lead to various diseases. Usually, the only effective way to manage the symptoms is through medication but in rare cases, drastic dietary changes have also been found to do the trick.

Just like any other chronic disease, it is important to learn how to live with thyroid disease. This mainly includes adjusting your diet and schedule, knowledge of which foods to avoid, and taking timely medication. More often than you would realize, your diet plays a huge role in thyroid gland maintenance. Certain foods and the elements present in them can react with your medication and result in positive or negative effects, one of them being the effects of coffee on thyroid medication.

Common Thyroid Disorders

Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)

  • This is a condition where the gland produces and discharges more hormones than your body needs.
  • Hyperthyroidism causes – a spike in metabolism rate, anxiety, nervousness, a higher appetite, and a faster heartbeat.

Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

  • This is a condition where the gland fails to release a sufficient amount of hormones into the bloodstream.
  • Hypothyroidism causes – lethargy, fatigue, weight gain, lower metabolism, and disruptions in a heartbeat.

Thyroiditis

  • This condition includes the inflammation of the thyroid gland that may be caused by various reasons such as autoimmune diseases, infections, contact with certain chemicals, and so on.

Thyroid Cancer

  •  It presents itself as a thyroid tumor and can be classified further into various types.

Effects of Coffee on Thyroid Medication

More than half of the world’s population drinks at least one cup of coffee a day. Under an ideal situation, this is considered normal but under circumstances where medicines are involved, you might want to rethink your coffee consumption. 

The good news is no one needs to completely cut coffee from their diets. However, the time taken between your medicine and coffee intake matters, especially if diagnosed with hypothyroidism. You should keep at least more than an hour of gap between your medicine & coffee.

Levothyroxine is a common drug prescribed by doctors to patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This synthetic drug, taken orally and injected, helps in restoring thyroid hormones in your bloodstream, enough to bring them to a satisfactory level. However, levothyroxine can react negatively when taken with coffee.

Coffee contains a large amount of caffeine, which has mainly proven to be the root of the problem. It can result in increased intestinal movement or bowel movement, as well as an increased flow of fluids into the intestines causing diarrhea. This can cause the medicine to pass out of your body before it even gets the chance of absorption.

The effects of coffee on thyroid medication is reduced by up to 30%. The reduced absorption rate substantially increases the chances of facing hypothyroidism symptoms.

Experts usually suggest waiting for at least an hour after taking levothyroxine to drink your coffee, even if it is decaffeinated. You can also wait for an hour after your coffee to take the medicine.

In hyperthyroidism patients, caffeine can further increase the heart rate, causing unnecessary anxiety and restlessness.

Other Foods That Interact With Thyroid Medication

Coffee is not the only thing you need to be mindful of with regards to your thyroid medication. There are other foods which can prove to be better or worse for your condition.

Goitrogens

  • Goitrogens contain a chemical that can interfere with the thyroid gland and possibly lead to a decline in thyroid hormone production. These interfering compounds can be tamed by cooking these food items.
  • Hypothyroidism patients are asked to eat them in moderation, while it is a suggested nutrient for hyperthyroidism patients.
  • Goitrogenic foods include – cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale, and so on), soy foods, nuts and seeds, fruits and starchy plants, and beverages (like tea, coffee, alcohol).

Soy

  • Research has found that soy can reduce the ability to absorb thyroid medication.
  • It can increase the risk of hypothyroidism.
  • Foods containing soy include – tofu, miso, edamame, soy milk, and so on.

Gluten

  • Gluten can harm the gland by causing inflammation.
  • A recent study found that a gluten-free diet was beneficial for women with thyroid disease.
  • There was a strong relationship found between autoimmune thyroid disease and celiac disease (inflammation of the small intestine because of the intake of gluten).
  • Foods containing gluten include – barley, wheat, malt, rye, and so on.

Calcium-Rich Foods or Supplements

  • Hypothyroidism patients are generally asked to regulate their calcium intake since it can decrease the absorption rate of thyroid hormone replacement medication.
  • Doctors suggest the ingestion of calcium-rich supplements either four hours before or after your thyroid medication.

Processed or Canned Foods

  • Processed foods contain nitrates which can absorb too much iodine. This can lead to hyperthyroidism.
  • They are also high in sodium content and can lead to high blood pressure, both of which can be dangerous for a person diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
  • Food cans are usually treated with BPA (bisphenol – A) – a man-made estrogen – that interrupts typical thyroid function.
  • Processed foods include – processed meats (like bologna, salami, pepperoni), cookies, cake, and so on.

Excessively Fibrous Foods

  • Too much fiber can irritate your digestive system and interfere with thyroid hormone replacement medication.
  • Hypothyroidism patients are suggested to intake fibrous foods in moderation since some fiber is healthy and required for the body.

Alcohol

  • Alcohol can interfere with the ability to produce and use thyroid hormones.
  • Hypothyroidism patients are advised to either cut off alcoholic beverages or drink them in careful moderation.

Good Nutrients For Thyroid

Iodine

  • Iodine deficiency can cause goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland).
  • It helps with thyroid hormone production; hence a deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism or worsen it.
  • Hyperthyroidism patients should avoid too much iodine.
  • Found in – salt, seafood, cheese, and so on.

Zinc

  • It helps with keeping the gland and the immune system healthy.
  • Effectively facilitates thyroid hormone production.
  • Hypothyroidism patients are asked to consume a zinc-rich diet.
  • Found in – chickpeas, cashews, mushrooms, and so on.

Selenium

  • It balances thyroid hormone levels.
  • Protects the thyroid and other tissues from damage by incorporating its antioxidant properties.
  • Found in – couscous, eggs, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, and so on.

Iron

  • An essential nutrient for not only thyroid health but also for overall bodily functions.
  • Lower iron levels have been interlinked with a higher risk of hyperthyroidism.
  • Found in – red meat, green leafy vegetables, lentils, and so on.

To Summarize

Many doctors and experts suggest that people take their thyroid medication early in the morning, with an empty stomach, and wait at least an hour before they start with their daily meals. If not in the morning, it can also be taken right before bed, or to be more specific, an hour after dinner. These medication timings can result in better absorption as well as lesser interference of other food items with the medicine.