Nutrition serves two purposes in your body. The first is to provide you with energy. The second is to maintain body structure and function. The food we eat provides the necessary components to any worn or damaged cells. Alcohol interferes with these nutritional processes by affecting digestion, utilization, storage, and excretion of nutrients.
IMPAIRMENT OF NUTRIENT DIGESTION AND UTILIZATION
Digestion technically begins the moment we put food in our mouths. The purpose of digestion is to break down the food we eat into smaller, usable components so it is available to provide us with energy and help to maintain body structure, as previously mentioned. The nutrients from food once they have been digested are absorbed through the intestines into the blood and then carried through to the liver where they are either used immediately or stored away to be used later as needed. In an alcoholic there is a reduction in the secretion of digestion enzymes from the pancreas which in turn reduces their body’s ability to break down these vital nutrients. Nutrient absorption in an alcoholic is further impaired by damage caused to the cells lining the stomach and the intestines and preventing absorption of some of the nutrients into the blood. Even if the nutrients were to be properly digested and absorbed, the presence of alcohol can still negatively impact their utilization by altering their transport, storage, and their excretion. Alcoholism also decreases the ability of the liver to certain vitamins.
ALCOHOL AND ENERGY SUPPLY
The three building blocks of the nutritional value of your food are referred to as macros. These three building blocks are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Some alcoholics ingest as much as 50% of their daily caloric intake from alcohol alone. This leads to a diet that is nutritionally barren. Studies have also shown that alcoholics tend to have worse eating habits than non-alcoholics. This means if you spend all day consuming vodka and Hot Pockets your stomach might feel full but your body is receiving literally no nutrition of any kind. Even if food intake and quality are both adequate alcohol harms the mechanism the body uses to control its blood glucose levels. Glucose it the body’s principal sugar. Decreased blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia, occurs when a fasting or a malnourished person consumes alcohol. When there is no food to supply the body with energy, the body uses its stored sugars which then become depleted. The byproduct of the metabolized alcohol in the blood then inhibits the formation of glucose from other compounds. As a result, the brain and other body tissue are now deprived of the glucose they need for energy and function.
ALCOHOL AND THE MAINTENANCE OF CELL STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
Your cells are primarily made up of protein so a diet containing protein in adequate amounts is vital for maintaining your body’s cell structure. This is especially true if cells are being damaged. Research indicates that alcohol affects protein nutrition by causing impaired digestion of proteins to amino acids, impaired processing of amino acids by the small intestine and liver, impaired synthesis of proteins from amino acids, and impaired protein secretion by the liver. Vitamins are essential to the human body because they regulate growth along with many other physiological processes. Alcoholism causes the body to be deficient in a wide spectrum of vitamins because of decreased food ingestion, impaired vitamin absorption, and metabolism.
Over times these factors can wreak havoc on your overall physical health and that is in addition to the other health problems associated with chronic drinking such as cirrhosis of the liver and high blood pressure. Make your health a priority. Reach out to our well trained and caring staff here at Asana Recovery and let us help you through the steps that you need to take to get you physically and emotionally back on the right track.