Is Coffee Hurting Your Hormones?

Is Coffee Hurting Your Hormones?

I have been around the medical profession long enough to know that bodies can respond differently to the same situations. One of the differences in these responses is with coffee. Some people get nervous or jittery, while others just feel “up” for several hours.  For the vast majority of coffee drinkers the experience is only positive. But for others, coffee could be the one thing causing disruptions in your health. 

Trying to remove any substance from your diet is often difficult. We all have struggled with giving up some kind of food, whether it was sugar, gluten, dairy, or a big old fatty cheeseburger.  But for many coffee drinkers it is not just the “nutrition” we would give up, it would be the “kick start to the day” or an “afternoon pick-me-up”.  For many, the ritual habits done every day are the most difficult to give up.  

Before I get into the negatives, let’s explore the good side of coffee. It contains antioxidants and polyphenols which can reduce free radicals. There are also small studies which highlight coffee’s ability to prevent cancer, diabetes, gallstones, and depression.  The boost of energy and the mental clarity which come from coffee are helpful.  Additionally, there are the feelings of comfort associated with just the habit of the morning routine.  

On the negative side, coffee (even without the added ingredients) can raise blood sugar and cause sugar and carbohydrate cravings.  For people with hypoglycemia, the fluctuations can cause cortisol spikes leading to stress on the adrenal glands. Also, many people already suffer from adrenal fatigue and are using coffee or other sources of caffeine to counteract the extreme fatigue which can be associated with those adrenal issues. Coffee will mask the symptoms of fatigue, only to make the problem worse after the “sugar crash”.  

Coffee will not cause estrogen dominance, but can contribute to the problem.  Estrogen dominance usually means there is more estrogen in the body than the appropriate amount of progesterone. Women with estrogen dominance usually have a normal amount of estrogen, but insufficient progesterone for that amount.  Some of the symptoms of this dominance are: heavy periods, fibrocystic breasts, PMS, and increased breast cancer risk. Additionally, estrogen dominance can lead to low thyroid function by inhibiting levothyroxine absorption in thyroid patients taking it, and also inhibiting the conversion of the levothyroxine (T-4) to the more active liothyronine (T-3). This lack of conversion leads to low thyroid function.  Low thyroid function is a major health problem causing problems from weight gain to hair loss, to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 

While not ever the first thing we think of when working on these issues, if one is experiencing continued problems with hormone related issues and can’t figure out what is going on it is worth looking at your coffee habit to determine if you need to make any changes there.