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Alcohol - can it be part of a healthy lifestyle?
Most of us love an alcoholic drink every now and then. Whether it’s a glass of wine at night with dinner, a beer at the pub with friend or a cold cider on a sunny day - alcohol is part of our lives. But sometimes we find it hard to stop at one and what effect is this having on our body and health?
Alcohol is tough on your liver….
The liver is an amazing organ that has hundreds of essential roles to play in the body, so we want to keep it in tip top shape. One of the liver’s major jobs is detoxification of unwanted substances that enter the body. That includes alcohol. The liver is the only way out for alcohol, it converts it into a substances called acetaldehyde (this is the substance responsible for those nasty headaches!) and the body can then excrete it. If the liver didn’t do it’s job, the alcohol would accumulate in your blood and you would go into a coma and die. Not so good! Moral of the story - too much alcohol is toxic and it’s the liver’s number 1 job to get rid of it.
I can hear you saying, cool, my liver is on it and is breaking that alcohol down and excreting - doing it’s job! Go liver! Yes, the liver is incredible! The problem is that, when the liver is busy dealing with too much alcohol, all of it’s other jobs get put on the back burner. One of these jobs is the recycling of the sex hormone estrogen. If estrogen isn’t recycled by the liver the body reabsorbs it. This results in the body’s levels of estrogen increases and this can lead to some unwanted health consequences.
When your body’s estrogen and testosterone levels aren’t in sync, you can develop health symptoms. Symptoms of high estrogen include:
- swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- decreased sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- mood swings
- fibrocystic developments in the breast
- weight gain
- hair loss
- cold hands or feet
- feeling tired or lacking energy
- difficulty with memory
- trouble sleeping
- increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, bad skin anyone?
Now that doesn’t sound ideal does it!! If you have some of those symptoms, have a honest think - do you drink too much alcohol? Could it be that your liver is struggling from all that over indulging you did over Christmas? And maybe last year too? Is it time to reduce how much alcohol you drink?
Above is just ONE of many consequences of overloading your liver with alcohol. Others include high cholesterol levels, changes in skin colour, digestive issues, fatigue, dark urine and skin problems!!
Skin problems!!??? How does alcohol wreck your skin….
We all want fresh and clear looking skin but drink too much alcohol and you won’t have.
If your liver is not doing its job of breaking down those toxins efficiently, they must be eliminated from your body by other means – in many cases they come out through your skin.
When excessive toxins build up in the deeper layers of the skin this causes inflammation to occur and this can result in:
- Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
- Brown liver spots which make you look older
- Red itchy rashes anywhere in your body
- Deep painful rashes which may lead to ulcers
- Rosacea – this causes small red pimples which affect the cheeks, the chin and area around the nose and small yellow heads may occur on the top of the pimples.
Too much alcohol will reduce weight loss efforts or make you gain weight….
As mentioned above, alcohol is a toxin to the body and the body’s number 1 priority will be to get it out of your system. When alcohol is consumed the body shifts from burning the macronutrients that you eat, to burning the byproducts of the alcohol instead - because they are harmful to the body. This mean that whilst alcohol is not stored as fat, the other foods you eat are more likely to be. In short, the body will utilize energy from the alcohol first, then the food energy - increasing the chances of fat storage from the food you eat.
Alcohol is also often served with soda drinks such as coke or lemonade. These come with loads of sugar and we all know that too much sugar = weight gain! And if you think choosing the diet soda was a better option, think again! Research shows that consuming large amounts of artificial sweeteners increase your chances of becoming obese more than sugar does!
And lastly, remember that alcohol puts pressure on the liver when the liver is unable to work efficiently it can cause hormone imbalances - which in turn, can also cause weight gain.
Have you put your glass down yet?
Alcohol reduces the quality of your sleep….
A good night’s sleep is the best supplement we can take and it’s free! But when you drink alcohol in the evening, your body can go straight in the deep sleep phase, missing out on the initial restorative phase of sleep called rapid eye movement or R.E.M. When your R.E.M sleep is reduced you will wake up looking and feeling exhausted. Dark circles under those eyes, dull skin, low on energy and motivation - not a great start to the day!
So… alcohol - it’s all bad then?
Alcohol is bad for your health and beauty when over consumed - there is no doubt about this. It will put pressure on your liver, make you gain weight, reduce your sleep quality and reduce your general wellbeing. In saying that, there is however, one alcoholic beverage that research shows has health benefits and that is red wine. You can READ MORE about this from Neuroscientist and author of the Grain Brain and Brain Maker books, Dr David Perlmutter. The benefits of red wine are suggested to be that it reduces risk of coronary heart disease, alzheimer’s disease, contains antioxidants, increases HDL, improves gut bacteria and even decrease blood pressure.
How much can I drink then?
“Ok yay! I can have a glass of red”, I hear you saying! How much wine is good for me? For women, a small glass containing 150mls a day would work just nicely to provide some health benefits. Men with a larger frame, can have approximately twice that amount. Savour those 150mls because they need to last the evening!