Motivation For Dry July – Alcohol 101
Are you struggling to get through Dry July?
Here’s a few health tips and reasons that you should stay true to your goal.
The Boozy Facts
- Once alcohol is consumed about 10-20% is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the stomach where it reaches your heart, brain, muscles and other tissues in under a minute.
- The rest is transported to the liver where it is broken down to acetaldehyde – a close relative of formaldehyde used to embalm or preserve human remains. In other words…its highly toxic and highly reactive.
- It can take approximately 3 hours for just one glass of alcohol to be metabolised and removed from the body.
- In general women tend to have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol than men, meaning more toxic acetaldehyde circulating in our system for longer and more severe hangovers.
Want more information on how the body deals with alcohol? Read more HERE.
Need more reason to put the drink down?
1. Alcohol promotes fat storage
Alcohol is lacking in nutrients but certainly not calories. And lets not forget to add the calories you get from any added mixers such as Coke or Lemonade and any hangover meals you devour on your crawl home (hello souvlaki van!) But drinking alcohol also stops you burning all other energy sources such as the hot dog and donut you scoffed down for lunch. Why? because the body recognises that it must get rid of the acetate from the metabolism of alcohol as a priority, so all other forms are sent to fat cells to be stored so the body can concentrate on using acetate as the primary fuel. Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang…straight to your spare tire thanks very much for coming!
2. Leaky Gut
Alcohol is an intestinal irritant and is known to increase intestinal permeability (known as leaky gut) whilst also influencing changes in the bacterial microflora (gut bugs). What does all of this mean? If you have a leaky gut you have a harder time keeping the large food particles, proteins and pathogens out of your blood stream.
If improperly digested food particles enter the blood stream, your immune cells identify them as foreign and attack them potentially causing inflammation, stress and autoimmunity such as Hashimotos.
Having a leaky gut is associated with an array of conditions and symptoms, some of which I have listed here:
- Abdominal pain
- Allergies or food sensitivities
- Constant hunger despite eating
- Bladder infections
- IBS / SIBO
- Chronic Fatigue
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Gas (flatulence)
3. Fatty liver and cirrhosis
The liver is the largest organ in the body and bears most of the brunt of our alcohol consumption. It should be no surprise then that fatty liver, fat accumulation in the liver (also called steatosis), can occur from excessive drinking. If not reversed as the liver tries in vain to repair itself, it is left irreversibly scarred – known as cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis can develop into diabetes, high blood pressure, liver failure, liver cancer, cardiovascular events and liver-related death.
Cirrhosis of the liver is the 10th largest overall killer of men in Australia.
Various studies on the impact of alcohol on fertility on both men and women have shown detrimental impacts such as; decreased probability of conception rate by over 50%, decreased implantation rate, increased risk of miscarriage and fetal death.
One study on 1050 women from seven infertility clinics investigated the relationship between moderate alcohol intake and fertility. Results showed an increase in infertility due to factors that prevent the maturation and release of the ovum from the ovary with alcohol use.
One study noted a 50% reduction in the probability of conception in participants who consume alcohol during a menstrual cycle. For the fellas semen volume, count and motility is significantly decreased with heavy drinking, leading to an overall negative effect on male reproductive hormones and fertility.
5. Brain damage
Brain cells aren’t damaged directly by alcohol itself but the by-products of breaking alcohol down can cause brain damage. More importantly, chronic alcohol consumption can alter the way your brain communicates as alcohol can damage brain cell neurons (the cells that transmit messages), specifically the dendrites (the end bits).
An estimated 50–75% of long-term drinkers show cognitive impairment and structural damage to the brain .
6. The C word
Cancer. Alcohol can cause cancer. Really that in itself is enough to make you put down your drink. One study examined over 58,000 women with breast cancer, with results showing that women who drink more than 3 drinks a day, have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer than nondrinkers.
Loss of sleep and limited quality sleep – glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (building blocks of protein) in the body, and the predominant amino acid in muscles. Glutamine makes the antioxidant glutathione (the good guy that removes toxins). However once you stop drinking, the body tends to overcompensate by overproducing glutamine that results in a restless sleep and heightened anxiety.
So hang in there guys, you are nearly through July and your body (especially your gut) will thank you for the time away from booze. So stay strong!
What gets you through a detox from booze? Do you have a favourite non-alcoholic drink recipe that you lean on? I’d love to hear from you.