If you're like many people around the world, kicking your feet up with a glass of wine or a 'small' beer at the end of the day is how you shrug off the day's stresses. In moderation, alcohol has been shown to have some positive health effects, including slightly increasing -- not decreasing -- your metabolism. However, alcohol is still high in calories and offers few nutrients. Drinking too much could counteract any of its positive health effects and make it harder for you to lose weight. Discuss your drinking habits with your doctor to be sure you're not overdoing it
When the fact that alcohol causes harm is acknowledged, language conveniently distances us from asking whether our own drinking is worth thinking about. Terms such as “alcohol abuse” or “alcohol misuse” reinforce the idea that risky drinking and related harm are something that happens to others – to a small minority of different people.
And if drinking is the social norm, those who have problems must surely be unusual. This dissuades many from perceiving and taking action to reduce alcohol-related risk. It also allows us to demand that government responses target a small group of “alcohol abusers” and leave the rest of us to enjoy drinking.
Alcohol contains empty calories and has no nutritional value. Your body can't store alcohol, so it must metabolise it right away. Metabolising alcohol, however, can have a detrimental effect on other metabolic processes. Here's what you should know about how alcohol effects your metabolism.
Alcohol and Nutrition
Alcohol contains only empty calories and has no nutritional value. It can often contribute to malnutrition because the high levels of calories in most alcoholic drinks can account for a large percentage of your daily energy requirements. Even one alcoholic drink a day can contribute to malnutrition.
Your body can't store alcohol, so it must metabolise it right away. When you drink alcohol, your body makes metabolising it a priority over all other metabolic processes. Your body sends alcohol to the liver, which produces the enzymes necessary for the oxidation and metabolism of alcohol.
Not only does alcohol not contain any nutrients of its own, but it can impair your body's ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat. Alcohol irritates your gastrointestinal tract, and can damage your body's ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
Alcohol and Your Liver
Alcohol is toxic to your liver, and if you drink heavily for a long time you can experience cirrhosis of the liver and death. Heavy drinking over the long term can also impair your liver's ability to activate vitamins, which contributes to the malnutrition often suffered by long term alcoholics.
Alcohol and Blood Sugar
Maintaining adequate blood sugar levels is one of the key functions of your metabolism, but when you drink alcohol, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is one of the first elements of metabolism to be shoved aside in your body's rush to excrete the toxins as efficiently as possible. Alcohol inhibits your body's ability to make glucose and to maintain healthy levels of glucose (or blood sugar) in the blood. Over time, heavy drinkers develop glucose intolerance and can even become diabetic.
Even occasional alcohol consumption can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar levels, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. That's why drinking alcohol can be very dangerous for diabetics and hypoglycemics.
Alcohol Can Cause Weight GainBecause your body can't store alcohol and must metabolise it right away, other metabolic processes suffer. Your body won't metabolise sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol, and drinking heavily can cause your metabolism to slow. This can contribute to weight gain, as can the empty calories found in alcohol.
Alcohol Also Causes Weight Loss
Alcohol can also cause weight loss in those who drink heavily over the long term. Alcohol continues to slow the metabolism of long term drinkers, but it also causes inflammation in the organs of the digestive tract. If you drink heavily in the long term, alcohol can impair your body's ability to absorb nutrients. If you become chronically malnourished due to alcohol consumption, you'll lose weight in spite of your slower metabolism.
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!