Alcohol is not good for us from a scientific point of view.
The scientific spiel goes something like this:
Alcohol adversely affects every organ of the body and levels of most vitamins and minerals are reduced by its consumption. It irritates the lining of the gut. It prevents the release of digestive enzymes and leads to the malabsorption of vitamins such as folate and thiamine. It can cause diarrhoea due to fluid overload, as alcohol passes rapidly to the colon, or overstimulate microorganisms in the colon.
So whilst all that is potentially going on each time you have a drink, depending to what extent by how much you have, why do we drink at all?
Well perhaps because there are some benefits to drinking. Teetotallers have a lower life expectancy (in population studies, so not proving cause and effect so this may be due to other factors apart from alcohol intake). Also alcoholic drinks don’t just contain alcohol; there are other parts with nutrients in as well. For example, the tannins in red wine protect against heart disease and resveratrol helps to remove chemicals responsible for blood clots. Beer is high in B-vitamins, which have many functions including B-12 which helps to prevent a type of anaemia. Also alcohol makes us more relaxed and sociable, to a point and many feel a glass of wine makes a meal a bit more special.
Alcohol can be a part of a common sense healthy diet, but at this time of year there is more opportunity to drink and this can sometimes get out of control.
So what can you do to ensure drinking has a positive effect both in your life and on your health?
- Always eat before you start drinking. Okay so you may be at an event where it wasn’t possible to eat first, you came straight from work or another event. What do you do? If nothing else is available go for a bag of crisps or peanuts from the bar. This will help to slow the absorption of the alcohol from the stomach and reduce the irritation to the gut. It can also mean you won’t be so ravenous later when you do come to eat.
- Really enjoy the first one or two drinks. Then ask yourself each drink after that do you really want it. Alternating drinks with glasses of water can also help. Often when drinking you do enjoy the first glass and then don’t really taste the others. This goes back to mindfulness of what you are eating. If you eat (and drink) for enjoyment, then you can stop when you are not enjoying it, instead of making it a mindless habit.
- The next day make sure you have good food. Replace vitamin and minerals with orange juice and eggs on toast for breakfast and plenty of water. Eat plenty of vegetables throughout the day and make sure you have a good protein portion with lunch and dinner.
- If you drank and ate more than you intended on a night out, don’t beat yourself up. Slips happen when trying to make changes and perhaps you really enjoyed the night out? Don’t let this one incident knock you off track so you no longer keep going with your health goals and give up. Go back to your healthier ways and keep going with your plan.
- Don’t weigh yourself the day after the blow out. Salty food and alcohol can affect your fluid balance so it won’t give you an accurate picture. Weigh yourself no more than once per week or use other measurements such as waist circumference, hips and arm circumference.
If you would like to know more about how a few drinks can be a part of a healthy diet contact me to book you free Common Sense Nutrition Strategy Session where you will find out 3 things you can do now to improve you energy, enjoyment of food and health.