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Alchohol in the body

Posted by Monica Monedero on February 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM


This article provides information on how drinking alcohol affects the body and dieting. The book Understanding Nutrition, eleventh edition, was used as a source for this information.


 When alcohol enters the body, unlike food, the body does not require time to digest it. Alcohol is quickly absorbed across the wall of an empty stomach, reaching the brain within a few minutes. This explains why we all know we should consume food before drinking!


The stomach begins to break down alcohol using the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. The enzyme varies by person and by race depending on the genes each person has inherited. Women produce less of this stomach enzyme than men. Consequently, more alcohol reaches a woman’s intestine for absorption into the bloodstream, and thus women have a lower tolerance for alcohol than men.


Alcohol is metabolized primarily in the liver. If more alcohol arrives at the liver than the enzymes can handle, the extra alcohol travels to all parts of the body, circulating again and again until the liver enzymes are finally available to process it. If you are going to drink, a good tip to control your intake is to limit the number of drinks before you start and drink no more than one drink per hour. This gives the enzymes in your liver time to process the alcohol. Keep an eye on your watch!!


Alcohol alters both how the body synthesizes amino acid and protein. Synthesis of proteins important in the immune system slows down, weakening the body's defenses against infection. Eating well does not protect the drinker from protein depletion; a person must stop drinking alcohol before the body will resume its natural rate of protein synthesis.


Alcohol is rich in energy (7 calories per gram) (we are talking "calorie energy" here). As with pure sugar or fat, the calories are empty of nutrients. Alcohol's contribution to body fat is most evident in the central obesity that commonly accompanies alcohol consumption. In other words, it is a large contributor to belly fat! It displaces nutrients from the diet and interferes with the body's metabolism of nutrients.


Those are a few of the facts. So how do we handle this sticky situation while trying to diet? Unfortunately, the best thing would be to stop drinking while dieting. Then, once the desired weight has been reached, slowly introduce it back into your diet on a moderate level and pay close attention to how it affects your weight and appetite.


The next best thing would be to limit drinking to no more than once or twice a week, or, even better, only on special occasions. Keep in mind that tip above about deciding how much you will drink during a certain occasion and limit drinks to no more than one per hour until you have reached that maximum number of drinks. Also, try not to drink sugary mixed drinks like the liqueurs used in, for example, restaurant Margaritas (try my Healthy Margarita recipe under the Vitamix blender tab), Lemon Drop and Apple Martinis, and Long Island Ice Teas. These just compound the dietary problem.


Other Tips:

  • Intersperse your wine, beer, or low-calorie drink with water or sparkling water between each drink.
  • Tell your friends and family you are trying to diet and seek their support of your limited drinking while trying to reach your desired weight.
  • Add water, ice, or club soda to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.

Categories: Foods To Eat/Nutrition Articles

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Reply Monica Monedero
12:23 AM on February 27, 2012 
Thank you for the kind words! I do try to make sure that what I post is as accurate as possible. Feel free to comment anytime. I also invite you to join my website!
Monica Monedero

Nursing license says...
This blog is nice and amazing. I love your post! It's also nice to see someone who does a lot of research and has a great knack for ting, which is pretty rare from bloggers these days.
Nursing license
Reply Nursing license
10:42 PM on February 26, 2012 
This blog is nice and amazing. I love your post! It's also nice to see someone who does a lot of research and has a great knack for ting, which is pretty rare from bloggers these days.
Nursing license
Reply Monica Monedero
10:28 PM on March 2, 2011 
Thanks for the comment! Yes, I agree. I have tried that with 2 parts club soda and 1 part cranberry juice. Having something to hold and sip feels better because it simply does not feel right to stand there with nothing in your hand!
Reply Jessie
7:40 PM on March 2, 2011 
These are good tips...I have been following this while dieting and it works! I've lost almost 20 pounds since new years and I think cutting back on drinking has been a big part of that. I drink hot tea at night instead of wine like I used to. Also, I like having a club soda with lime at a bar. People assume you are drinking a cocktail so you don't have to deal with people bugging you about why you aren't drinking.