Published April 3, 2011
Updated August 20, 2012
Although in my articles and posts I focus a great deal on how people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions need to eat healthier foods, in this article I want to focus on the beverages that people commonly drink, as this can play a big role in thyroid health as well. While I recommend that people mostly drink purified water, I realize many people are going to drink other beverages as well. So I figured it would be a good idea to list all of the different beverages that people commonly drink, and discuss which ones are okay to drink in moderation besides water, and which beverages should be completely avoided.
As you read the different beverages I list below, you’ll notice that many of them will affect your blood sugar levels. And since many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have adrenal problems, the last thing you want to do is put a lot of stress on your adrenal glands by drinking beverages that will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, which in turn will cause them to crash down, releasing cortisol. As I’ll mention a few times in this article, drinking beverages that are high in sugar every now and then shouldn’t be much of a problem for most people. But drinking them on a regular basis can either lead to the development of an adrenal problem, or exacerbate an existing one.
So let’s take a look at the different beverages:
Water. This is obviously the preferred beverage you should drink, and you’ll want to avoid drinking water from the tap, as most sources will contain toxins you should avoid (lead, chlorine, fluoride, etc.). You should drink purified water, and while there are many different types to choose from, I would personally recommend water that has gone through the reverse osmosis filtration process, or a good quality spring water in a glass bottle (an example is Mountain Valley Springs). Distilled water is okay too, although some sources will state that due to the lack of minerals you should avoid drinking distilled water. On the other hand, other sources claim that you’re not looking to obtain minerals from water, and therefore it’s fine to drink distilled water. Then there are sources which claim that drinking distilled water actually can be harmful for you, as it can leach the minerals from your body. There seems to be some evidence that reverse osmosis can do this too, but it’s still inconclusive. Then there’s alkaline water, which is another option, although in my opinion you want to make sure the pH isn’t too alkaline.
Either way, you want to avoid drinking tap water, and you need to be cautious about drinking most brands of spring water as well, mainly because in many cases you can’t completely trust the source. In other words, drinking certain brands of spring water may be no better than drinking water from the tap. You also need to keep in mind that drinking bottled water might expose you to the toxins contained in the plastics, which is why it’s best to have your own filter installed in your home. A whole house filter is ideal, but can cost a lot of money for this type of filter, as well as getting a plumber to install it. You can purchase a reverse osmosis filter for a few hundred dollars. This isn’t cheap, but let’s not forget that buying bottled water will add up as well.
Coffee. Some sources will say that it’s okay to drink coffee in moderation, and might even suggest that there are some health benefits of caffeine. However, for someone who has a thyroid and/or adrenal problem, they really should avoid drinking coffee, or at the very least minimize their consumption of it. This is especially true if you add sugar to your coffee, but even if you don’t add sugar, due to the caffeine and the effects it can have on your thyroid and adrenal health, it’s best to avoid drinking coffee altogether. If you must drink coffee, try drinking no more than one or two cups each week, drink a high quality coffee, and don’t add sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Tea. Tea also has caffeine and therefore you should avoid drinking it on a regular basis. However, it’s okay to drink green tea on an occasional basis, as green tea does have numerous health benefits, including antioxidants. There actually is a book dedicated to all of the health benefits of green tea. It’s called “The Green Tea Book”. If you like drinking Green Tea, or if you are curious as to the health benefits of green tea then I recommend reading it.
Soda. Whether or not you have a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition you should try to completely eliminate drinking any kind of sodas. Sure, having a few sodas per month probably isn’t going to do you much harm, but the problem is that most people don’t drink only a few sodas per month. In fact, many people drink soda on a daily basis, and it’s unfortunate that this includes many young children. Unfortunately I drank a lot of soda growing up, and it was therefore very difficult to give it up. Besides leading to potential adrenal and thyroid problems, this can also lead to other health conditions, such as diabetes.
Obviously a big problem with drinking soda is that these beverages contain large amounts of sugar, which means that drinking them daily will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, and eventually compromise the adrenal glands. Most sodas also contain caffeine, which as mentioned earlier, is something that ideally should be avoided, at least on a regular basis. Also, many sodas contain phosphoric acid, which has been shown to leach calcium from the bone, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Some dispute this, but even if there is a slight risk of this happening, I’d still rather stick to drinking water. Finally, many sodas also contain artificial colors and/or flavors, which are toxins to the body.
How about drinking diet sodas? Even though diet sodas aren’t as high in sugar, many still contain caffeine and phosphoric acid. Plus, the artificial sweeteners that are included in sodas are also toxins. Once again, there is controversy over this, and perhaps you can drink diet soda daily for 20 or 30 years and have no health issues as a result of this. But even if you want to drink something other than water, there are better choices out there than diet soda.
Fruit Juice. You also need to be careful about drinking too much fruit juice. Of course many of the fruit juices sold in grocery stores contain high amounts of sugar, as well as artificial ingredients. So if you are to drink fruit juice you want to try to avoid purchasing any products with artificial ingredients, and make sure you buy fruit juice with a minimal amount of sugar. You can of course dilute the fruit juice with water as well.
But even if you purchase an all natural fruit juice with no artificial ingredients and a minimum amount of sugar, you still want to consume this in moderation. This is especially true when giving juices to children, as many parents assume that apple juice, orange juice, and other fruit juices are healthy. And while they definitely are a healthier option than drinking soda, they still affect the blood sugar levels, which is why you don’t want you or your children to drink them on a frequent basis.
Vegetable Juice. Drinking vegetable juice can be a healthier option than drinking fruit juice. However, you still need to be careful, as vegetable juice purchased in a grocery store can still be high in sugar, which will once again affect the blood sugar levels. It’s best to make your own vegetable juice, as you can purchase your own juicer and then obviously can control which vegetables and other ingredients you include. There are many different recipes you can get by searching online, as well as free videos on YouTube that show you how to become an “expert juicer”.
Cow’s Milk. Many people are lactose intolerant, and this is just one reason why they should avoid drinking cow’s milk. It makes sense to avoid those foods we are allergic too, yet many people who know they are allergic to milk continue to drink it regularly, which isn’t great for the digestive system. In addition, lactose is a sugar, which means that it also has an effect on the blood sugar levels, although admittedly it’s not as bad as drinking soda or fruit juices which are high in sugar. Milk also contains casein, which is a protein many people are also allergic to.
If you must drink cow’s milk, try to purchase organic milk. This way you will at least avoid the hormones that are included in non organic milk. You might also want to consider drinking goat’s milk, which is healthier than cow’s milk, and doesn’t contain as much lactose. Raw milk is also a healthier option, although in some states it’s illegal to sell raw milk.
Rice & Almond Milk. Rice and almond milk are okay to drink every now and then, but not on a daily basis. However, if you feel that you must drink milk on a daily basis, then in my opinion you should choose either rice or almond milk over cow’s milk. I would probably choose almond milk over rice milk, as it has a higher protein content. You do need to be careful though, as some brands do contain a decent amount of sugar. So you might just want to go with the “plain” flavor, rather than choosing vanilla or chocolate, which are typically higher in sugar.
Soy Milk. Many people are allergic to soy, and this is one reason why I recommend avoiding it altogether. In addition, soy is a goitrogen, which inhibits the function of the thyroid gland. So those people who have a thyroid condition will especially want to avoid drinking soy milk. Just like everything else, drinking soy milk once in awhile probably isn’t a big deal. But there are many people who drink soy milk everyday, thinking it’s a healthier substitute for cow’s milk. But given a choice to drink soy milk or organic cow’s milk, I would choose the organic cow’s milk. But as mentioned above, rice or almond milk is a better alternative than either of these.
Alcohol. You also want to avoid drinking alcohol, as this also will affect the blood sugar levels. Perhaps an exception to this is drinking red wine on an occasional basis, as there are some health benefits associated with this. But other than having an occasional glass of red wine, try to lay off the alcohol. Sure, having an occasional beer or two isn’t going to cause much harm for many people, but just as is the case with drinking soda, many people drink too much alcohol.
In summary, you ideally should stick to drinking water and avoid most other beverages. But if you get tired of just drinking water and must drink something else, then I hope the information provided here will help you to make a better decision regarding the beverages you drink. While drinking soda and other unhealthy beverages on an occasional basis isn’t too big of a deal for most people, drinking them regularly can affect your thyroid health. So if you are going to drink beverages other than water, drink green tea, vegetable juice, and some of the other healthier drinks I mentioned, although you still will want to do so on a moderate basis.
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