We live in a society where regular alcohol consumption is commonplace. Many people enjoy the daily routine of having an alcoholic beverage as a means to unwind. Even with a controlled, casual or sporadic consumption, alcohol has no real positive health effect on the body. In fact, it has just the opposite. Alcohol consumption lowers the liver’s capacity to metabolize estrogen by causing ethanol toxicity, which can lead to a host of metabolic issues, including high triglycerides, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman in his book, The UltraMind Connection, “alcohol damages the liver and prevents it from excreting excess estrogen…a factor that influences hormonal imbalance. Men who drink too much literally grow breasts along with their beer bellies!” Therefore, I believe it’s safe to say that alcohol, in its essence, promotes a bad estrogenic environment in the body. This poses the question as to whether or not one may drink and still take an effective approach to dieting and wellness. Quite frankly, the best action is not to drink alcohol at all. If you do choose to drink alcohol, below are some effective guidelines for minimizing the negative impact that it may have on your body.
Guidelines for Drinking Alcohol
- All alcohol is not equal. Some are much worse for the body than others. What and how much you choose to drink can help minimize or maximize any damaging effects. (Refer to the box to the right to make the best choices.)
- Drink wine (preferably red), as it at least contains some nutrients that are beneficial to the body (resveratrol, tannins, anti-oxidants).
- Combine alcohol only with proteins or fat fuel foods, such as fish, eggs, nuts or seeds, respectively. Cheese is also a good combination. For that matter, wine and cheese will always be a superior combination over wine and pasta. The protein will help minimize an insulin spike and the negative effects on the liver.
- Never eat simple or processed carbohydrate foods while drinking alcohol (i.e. – crackers, cookies, pasta, grains, starches, etc.) Combining alcohol and carbs can over-spike insulin levels leading to blood sugar fluctuations, elevated blood lipids (high tryglicerides) and stubborn fat gain.
- Try to stay away from drinks that are made by blending alcohol with sugary mixers (i.e. – margaritas, piña coladas, fruit daiquiris, cocktails with fruit juice, etc.) These again will cause a high spike in blood sugar and insulin levels and will most likely cause the most damage.
- If you have any existing estrogen disorders such as stubborn fat or prostate enlargement, stay away from alcohol until all of your symptoms go away, so as not to prolong the issue or make it worse.
Having an occasional drink is not a bad thing. In fact, wine has been enjoyed for centuries throughout some of the greatest civilizations known to man by people who lived long and healthy lives. Unfortunately, today’s world is already overwhelmed with toxic chemicals that affect us in adverse ways. For those already suffering from certain disorders, drinking just exacerbates the issue. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to first address the weight and metabolic issues in order to effectively handle modest alcohol consumption.