Alcohol and Nutrition
Alcohol is usually very high in calories. It is considered to be a source of empty calories because there are no other nutrients present in it except the ones that provide calories. For example, a 12-ounce beer can typically contains 150 calories. Though different alcoholic beverages have different nutritional values, much of what is inside alcohol and the effects it has on one’s body are the same.
Wine includes small amounts of phytochemicals which work as antioxidants that help you fight off diseases. The key however is to drink in moderation, as the harmful effects of drinking too much alcohol are far more than its health benefits.
Good nutrition improves your health and prevents ailment. The key to determine whether alcohol has any nutritional value is to know how it is processed in your body.
How is Alcohol Metabolized
Alcohol cannot be stored in our body like proteins, carbohydrates and fat. It is given priority and metabolized before other nutrients, meaning that all the other essentials processes in the body get interrupted. Moreover, alcohol is not broken up prior to being absorbed like other nutrients. It is absorbed as it is by body.
The Impact of Alcohol on your Weight
Your body requires a set number of calories that must be consumed to maintain your ideal weight. This requirement is usually based on your gender, age, height, weight and activity level. When you intake more calories than required, you gain weight. Alcohol can be a source of weight gain as it provides you additional unwanted calories. It is full of sugar and is virtually void of nutrients. In addition to being high in calories, it’s not filling at all, so people tend to eat more while drinking. These extra calories easily contribute towards weight gain over a short span of time.
Alcohol and Blood Sugar
Alcohol is considered by the body as a poison, and the liver begins to work extremely hard to excrete this poison down your urinary tract. The problem here is that the liver also has other things to do like regulating the blood sugar levels. So if your blood sugar levels start going up or down, your liver cannot help because its busy getting rid of the poisonous alcohol. So you run into serious health troubles. Studies show that 45 to 70 percent of people affected by alcoholic liver disease either had diabetes or glucose intolerance.
Alcohol Contributes to Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
The use as well as misuse of alcohol forces the body to change the way it metabolizes certain vitamins and minerals. And at times even causes an increased requirement for certain minerals, mainly B vitamins. When alcohol replaces food, it leads to numerous deficiencies caused by the lack of proper intake of essential nutrients. Common nutritional deficiencies triggered by alcohol consumption are folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A and calcium deficiencies. The long-term consequences of these deficiencies badly affect the drinker’s health.
Health Benefits of Alcohol
Many people claim that alcohol is beneficial for health provided it’s consumed in moderate quantities. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends one drink per day or less for women and two drinks per day or less for men. Alcohol is also said to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease because it raises the levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol and lowers plasma fibrinogen levels
From the above argument, it is clear that alcohol is not essential in our diet as it can end up causing serious health problems. Therefore, those who prefer to drink alcohol should do so wisely and in moderation.
- “Alcohol and Nutrition”, https://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_nutrition/article.htm
- "Why Alcohol Calories Are More Important Than You Think", https://www.thefactsaboutfitness.com/research/alcohol.htm
- Image Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Wine_Glas.jpg