Holidays often offer opportunities for over-indulgence in eating, drinking, and other celebratory practices. Since there seems to be a dearth of current discussion on the negative effects of alcohol, let’s take a look so we can make more informed decisions. Some of the known harmful effects of alcohol include:
- Toxic liver – the liver is charged with detoxification of harmful substances including medications, alcohol, and toxic chemicals. When it becomes toxic it is less able to do its job and can lead to fatty liver, cirrhosis, or alcoholic hepatitis.
- Increased insulin release leading to increased fat storage
- Hormone imbalances (including estrogen and testosterone)
- Vitamin deficiencies, especially B vitamins
- Sleep disruption
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Compromised immune system
A recent article in the Barnstable Patch, reporting on news from a survey by 24/7 Wall St., reveals that Cape Cod is the “drunkest” place in MA with 21% of its inhabitants drinking excessively! (This is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC – as binge drinking: four or more drinks in a single occasion for women and five or more for men and heavy drinking: defined as at least eight drinks per week for women and 15 for men.)
Some of you are now asking “But what about the positive health effects of red wine?” Unfortunately the jury is still out on this but most researchers agree that it’s nearly impossible to get sufficient amounts of the antioxidant resveratrol from red wine without risking toxic doses.
Healthier alternatives: Try sparkling water with fresh lemon, lime, or unsweetened cranberry juice. (Sparkling Kombucha, a probiotic tea, makes a healthy and delicious alternative too!) If you do choose to drink alcohol, do so wisely.