Nutrition RX: Alcohol and Your Body
Everyday we read headlines about the perils of drinking too much and the most recent binge drinking among students and recent grads. It can have implications to one's safety, health and weight management. Drinking socially however is part of our lifestyles and can be- my advice everything in moderation. And for safety's sake- drink wisely- 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 is smaller amounts in women. With less of this enzyme women can become intoxicated more quickly than men.
How Alcohol affects your Health:
Alcohol provides 7 calories 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. Alcohol also disrupts your metabolism. Alcohol comes form a carbohydrate source but is metabolized as a fat in the body. When alcohol is in the body, the liver metabolized the alcohol first and this causes fatty acids are metabolized later, so if someone is a consuming to much alcohol, a fatty liver can result and also elevated cholesterol levels.
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. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep patterns and throw off your hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones which may trigger you to eat more.
My advice is to drink in moderation, don’t drink your calories with trendy drinks too often and stick 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 and don’t drive.