Nutrition RX: Alcohol--What Does That Drink Do to Your Body?
There is nothing like winding down with a cocktail but the body has much more of a menaichal view of that lovely cocktail, so here is what it actually does to your body and how you can lessen the impact:
Alcohol on Digestion: The body converts alcohol to acetaldehyde which the liver see as poison and tries to metabolizes it first and puts you last meal on hold while it does this, so fatty acids in your meal are metabolized later. In the mean time, you are more apt to absorb the fat in that meal. This is why heavy drinkers can also have high cholesterol. Ideally, you should not drink alcohol with a fatty meal, but you should also never drink on an empty stomach because that causes other issues. For example, you are more likely to become intoxicated more quickly. The last thing you want is to be too out of control. This is of special concern for women because alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme in the stomach that breaks down alcohol, is found in smaller amounts in women. With less of this enzyme, women can become intoxicated more quickly than men.
Mindless Eating and Weight Gain: Alcohol provides 7kcal per gram, while carbohydrates provide 4kcal, protein 4kcal and fat 9kcal per gram. Of course this does not include the extra calories added to an alcoholic beverage in the form of juice, soda or sugary mix. But more importantly, alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases mindless eating--you know about that late night fridge raid when you come home and wake up to wrappers of food in your bedroom the next morning, we have all been there! Alcohol also disrupts sleep; lack of sleep will throw off your hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones which may trigger you to eat more as well.
Alcohol on Your Immune System: Alcohol also interferes with the absorption of B-vitamins like folic acid, thiamin and B-12 as well as vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin K and calcium. This is why many alcoholics are found to be malnourished. Without these nutrients your immune system can't build it's defense system. It also disrupts your sleep patterns (even though it may help you fall asleep initially) and sparks nightmares (mine are very David Lynch -esque) which also exhaust you and lowers your immune system. So if you were to actually get food poisoning, drinking makes you even more susceptible. Oh and by the way we all know when you call in sick with food poisoning, we know it means you just got shocked.
Alcohol and Your Mood- Don't forget that Alcohol is a depressant and may have residual effects on the day the next day. And if you are a frequent drinker and prone to depression, it can make you feel worse. Don't combine caffeine with your alcohol, it is very difficult for your liver to oxidize both and may make you feel more sober than you actually are which can be dangerous.
My advice is to drink in moderation, don’t drink your calories with trendy drinks and stick just with a balanced diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and do not skip meals to have that extra cocktail at happy hour. Skipping meals will only intoxicate you more quickly and prevent you from consuming the nutrients that you need for a healthy diet. If you end up having one too many, stay with a pal you trust, don’t drink and drive, and lastly don't drink and text!
Morning After Smoothie
1 cup Kefir Lowfat plain
1/2 cup of coconut water
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of pineapple
Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin A, Protein, Probiotic, Calcium