11 ways coffee can impact your thyroid

11 ways coffee can impact your thyroid

I have to be honest and tell you that while the many dietary changes I have made to improve my thyroid health have been hard, quitting coffee has been my most challenging. It is often said that the change we resist the most is the change our body needs the most.

Written by Magdalena Wszelaki

Black magic. Black medicine. Morning elixir.

If you had to give up either coffee or the internet for 2 weeks, which one would you choose? How about either coffee or sex for 2 weeks?

Yeah, that was me, too.

If you’d rather relinquish anything to keep your coffee, you’d be on par with the majority of the people around you.

Taking steps to remove gluten, dairy or sugar from your diet can feel like a breeze compared to giving up coffee. However, as with anything that makes us feel that good, there is another side to your java fixation, and you need to know about it.

Benefits of coffee

Many reliable studies are often cited in confirming that coffee is full of antioxidants and polyphenols. However, these same antioxidants and polyphenols can also be found abundantly in many fruits and vegetables.

In addition, there are also a variety studies showing coffee’s role in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, depression, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, etc.

Beyond science, there is also the undeniable feeling of comfort in a morning routine, a stop at a favorite coffee shop, the smell, the buzz, and the energetic boost and mental clarity that come with a good cup of joe.

Everyone reacts differently

Is coffee bad for everybody? Not really. Each of us can have a different reaction to coffee. Some people get jittery and nervous, while others feel uplifted for hours. Many coffee drinkers report feeling good for the first two hours (mainly due to a dopamine spike), but eventually their energy and mental alertness will start dropping rapidly.

Coffee is metabolized in Phase I of the liver detoxification pathway, and some people have a harder time breaking it down – we call them “slow metabolizers.” This can either manifest immediately, presenting shaky and jittery feelings, or in a delayed fashion, such as poor sleep and digestive issues.

What is so worrisome about coffee?

If you are suffering from thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes or hormone-related conditions, it’s important to be fully aware of the “other side of coffee” and make an educated decision whether it is good for you.

Here are some of the lesser-known facts about coffee:

Increases blood sugar levels

According to this study, caffeine increases blood sugar levels. This is especially dangerous for people with hypoglycemia (or low sugar levels) who feel jittery, shaky, moody and unfocused when hungry. Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes, which not only exhaust the adrenals, but also deregulate the immune system. This is highly undesirable for those of us with adrenal fatigue, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. Such cortisol spikes are also highly inflammatory (read more below).

Creates sugar and carbohydrate cravings

As the result of the above (increase in sugar levels), when our blood sugar levels come down, we need an emergency fix to bring them back up. This is why people who drink coffee at breakfast or indulge in sugary and processed breakfasts crave carbs and sugar by 11am or later in the day.

Exhausts the adrenals

Coffee stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol, our stress hormone; this is partly why we experience a wonderful but temporary and unsustainable burst of energy.

What many of us don’t realize is that our tired adrenals are often the cause of unexplained weight gain, sleeping problems, feeling emotionally fragile, depression and fatigue. Drinking coffee while experiencing adrenal fatigue is only adding fuel to the fire.

Worsens PMS and lumpy breasts

It’s well-established that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance (source), which can mean one of two things: we either have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, or we have an imbalance in the estrogen metabolites (some are protective and some are dangerous).

PMS, lumpy breasts, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer (which is an estrogenic cancer) can be symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Gluten-cross reactive food

50% of people with gluten sensitivities also experience cross reactivity with other foods, including casein in milk products, corn, coffee, and almost all grains, because their protein structures are similar. Cyrex Labs provides a test for gluten cross-reactive foods.

Many people report having a similar reaction to coffee as they do to gluten.

Impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 thyroid hormones

Coffee impacts the absorption of levothyroxine (the synthetic thyroid hormone); this is why thyroid patients need to take their hormone replacement pill at least an hour before drinking coffee.

The indirect but important point is that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance, cited above, and estrogen dominance inhibits T4 to T3 conversion.

Can cause miscarriages

This study showed that women who drink coffee during their pregnancy are at a higher risk of miscarriage.

Can be inflammatory, for some

Any functional or integrative doctor would say the majority of modern diseases are caused by inflammation – a smoldering and invisible fire found on a cellular level.

There is conflicting research concerning the connection between coffee and inflammation. Some studies like this one (source) from 2017 from Stanford University School of Medicine suggest a cup of coffee may counter age-related inflammation. Contradictory effects have been reported too and it may be individual (source).

This study found that caffeine is a significant contributor to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Chronic body pains and aches, fatigue, skin problems, diabetes and autoimmune conditions are just some of the conditions related to inflammation.

Can contribute to and even cause osteoporosis

It is well-known that coffee changes our body pH to a lower, and thus more acidic, level. A low pH (which means a more acidic body) can contribute to osteoporosis.

This study has confirmed that habitual coffee drinking among postmenopausal women was the leading cause of osteoporosis.

Can cause insomnia and poor sleep

This study showed that 400mg of “caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive [sleep] effects.”

This, again, is dependent on the individual and his or her ability to metabolize caffeine. Some people experience deep and restful sleep whether or not they drink coffee, while others do not, even if they stop drinking anything caffeinated at noon.

How sensitive are you and how does coffee impact your sleep? You will only find out when you give up caffeinated drinks for 5 days – then your body will tell you!

What about decaf?

It’s a disputed area, but many health practitioners don’t suggest it for two reasons. For one, many manufacturers use a chemical process to remove caffeine from the coffee beans. The result is less caffeine, but more chemicals. Secondly, it is the caffeine in the coffee that has the health benefits we discussed above. Without it, you are left with little benefit.

The change we resist the most is often the change we need the most

Many people who have made extensive dietary changes will admit that coffee was the last and hardest thing to eliminate from their diets. Coffee is our ritual; it’s our best friend.

But is it really? It is often said that the change we resist the most is the change our body needs the most. Let your intuition be your guide.

Bottom line

You will only know how you really feel without coffee when you get off it for 3 to 5 days (and please don’t say it does not impact you until you try this experiment).

The first 2 days will be tough, but that tells you something important about this addictive substance, does it not?

Many women who have given up coffee and caffeine report better sleep within days, fewer hot flashes, less depression and anxiety, and many more other benefits over time.

What are some substitute options?

If you feel like you still need a slight kick, go for less-caffeinated options, such as green tea. Use the below infographic to guide you.

How much caffeine is in your drink?

Once you are ready to completely rid yourself of caffeine, herbal teas are a wonderful replacement.

One of my personal favorites is a Roasted Chicory Latte – it tastes like coffee, but it contains no caffeine. Making it into a smooth and creamy (yet dairy-free) latte makes the transition so much easier.

[RECIPE] ROASTED CHICORY ROOT LATTE If you are suffering from thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes or hormone-related conditions, it’s important to be fully aware of the “other side of coffee” and make an educated decision whether it is good for you.

Roasted Chicory Latte

Time to prepare: 15 minutes

Time to steep: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

Equipment: blender


1 tbsp roasted chicory root

2 cups water

1 tbsp ghee, coconut butter or butter (if tolerated)

1 pitted date

fresh nutmeg (nut or powder)

How to make:

  1. Bring water to a boil, add chicory root and steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain and transfer to a blender.
  3. Add the ghee (or any fat you decide to use) and the date. Blend for 1 minute at high speed.
  4. Top with freshly grated nutmeg and enjoy.

About Magdalena Wszelaki

Magdalena Wszelaki is a nutritional coach, hormone specialist, chef, and diet coach. She has a long history of hormonal challenges herself, from Hashimoto’s and adrenal exhaustion to estrogen dominance. She is in full remission today and lives a symptoms-free life. Check out her book Cooking for Hormone Balance.

READ NEXT: Hypothyroidism? Hair Loss? Fatigue? Heavy Periods? Check Your Iron

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. I have Hashimoto’s and I’m on 100mg of Synthroid. I’m 52 years old and drink about 4 cups of coffee per day but never with my meds. I wait about 45 minutes then drink my coffee. Great article. I love my coffee but I think I’m going to let it go for a while and see if I lose some weight as I have gained some!

  2. Hi – I am curious about substituting green tea because of some research I found which stated this: “Green tea has high levels of fluoride which is why it can disturb the function of thyroid gland.

    This happens because EGCG absorbs fluoride from the environment and releases it into your body. Fluoride can displace iodine, an important nutrient essential for thyroid health. Impaired absorption of iodine doesn’t allow thyroid to function properly and it contributes to the disrupted production of its hormones.

    Basically, the oldest leaves contain the highest levels of fluoride.

    Why does fluoride displace iodine in the first place?

    Fluoride and iodine are both halogens. The fluoride, the negative ion of the element fluorine easily displaces iodine in the body because it is much lighter and therefore more reactive. In fact the activity of any one of the halogens is inversely proportion to its atomic weight.

  3. Leona crocus says

    You are bless
    Therefore, there are other rest of the population that are beyond weird and they suffer a lot of negative reactions with coffee

  4. Taking levothyroxine 50mcg currently, stop gluten /coffee/tea, daily meal include tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, high protein food, 2type of fruits daily, but still gaining weight, tried keto diet but can’t cope with it.

    • Joan Stearns says

      Keto worked well for me for a few months ( I lost 26 lbs). If you stick to it you will probably start losing the cravings for other foods 90 percent of the time – at least I did. I eventually began stretching the boundaries with low carb ice cream and Carbquick flour, and eating a lot of processed protein low carb bars and slimfast shakes and my weight held steady for a few months, I have been off kto completely for a month and have gained back 8 pounds already

  5. I have hashimoto, and with hard work, have lost 60 lbs in a yr. I had to really embrace the hunger feeling! But lately i can’t get the last 15 off, and I’ve gained 5 lbs. After so much work I am desperate. Read the article on coffee, and have to wonder if my coffee habit ( no cream and sugar) is affecting my success.

    • Try no sugar no flour. I skip breakfast and for lunch and supper I have a protein a vegetable and sometimes a fruit. Drink lots of water. Eat nothing out of a box. This lifestyle change helped me loose 38 pounds four years ago and I’ve been able to maintain.

      • Maythe Amini says

        Hi this is very helpful to me I have try so many diferent things but I’m still can’t loose the weight I’m at gluten free so thank you

  6. I commonly drink coffee every day. I will also go without coffee for weeks or months at a time, and I am truly never affected either way. At least not that I have ever been able to tell. I have never felt that coffee gives me energy, nor does it make me relax. I can easily fall asleep after drinking a cup of coffee right before bed and coffee does not appear to have any affect on providing additional energy in the morning. Coffee has always seemed not to have any effect on me what-so-ever. I know this is weird right? I also know that this is absolutely out of the norm. I have no idea why it is this way, but it always has been. I am 56 years old.

    • Do you have Hashimoto’s?

    • Martine Shepherd says

      This will fix you! Before bed drink half the juice of a big grapefruit or a whole small one, a large tea spoon of honey, a good splash of apple cider vinegar (proper Mother organic ACV) and half a tea spoon of cinnamon powder with a half glass of good water.
      This will drop off your weight. However first you need to make sure you are on T3 AND T4
      For your thyroid. Both tertroxin and thyroxin. I did this and returned to my normal weight after putting on 20 or so kilos. Also do your clean living and exercise and you will be thrilled with the rewards.

      • Martine Shepherd says

        Extra…..Check that the grapefruit juice does not interfere with any of your meds. If it does substitute lemon juice instead…..IMPORTANT as grapefruit does interfere with some medications…. Good Luck💚🍀

    • Leona crocus says

      You are bless
      Therefore, there are other rest of the population that are beyond weird and they suffer a lot of negative reactions with coffee

  7. Renee Szuba says

    I thought i would try chicory to get out of the coffee habit. It turns out chicory can give people allergic to ragweed a hard. And my asthma def took a tole from this. Bery dangerous for some. But windwrdul if you aren’t allergic.

  8. Emily Grace says

    Thank you. I absolutely love coffee, but it reacts drastically with me. I could be having a normal conversation with nothing to worry about and then the minute I drink some coffee, I’m a hot mess in tears over nothing, and usually something I damn well should not be crying about. I have always said there was something to it and that I probably should not be drinking it, but could never find any information to support my claims. So I kept drinking. Sigh. Interestingly enough, I was 4petite two years ago, until I took on an events management job that had coffee readily available at all times, so that’s what I drank. Sure enough, I gained 35 in no time, and have yet to get it back off. Sigh. This explains everything. Thank you so much!!

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