by Dr. Jason Barker, ND
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
Since this week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts week, I thought I’d write a quick article about the myths and facts surrounding alcohol. Because, let’s face it the media headlines of studies can be confusing! One day you’ll read that moderate intake of alcohol is healthful, and then another study comes out saying no amount is healthy!
So, here are a few solid facts about alcohol, and how you can work to offset its effects if you do drink.
- Alcohol is the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. Yep, it has powerful effects on your mental state!
- Alcohol is the second most calorie-dense ‘nutrient’ – it packs 7 calories per gram. For reference, fat has 9, while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.
- Beer has roughly the same amount of calories as a soda, while wine has twice as many! (So, if weight loss is a goal of yours you’ve got to take a look at your alcohol consumption)
- The terms associated with “light”, “moderate” and “High” amounts of drinking are unstandardized, especially across the world. Here in the states, light drinking typically means 1 drink a day, moderate is 2 a day, and heavy is 3 a day.
As you can imagine, there are hundreds and hundreds of studies looking at alcohol’s effects on our health. Very, very generally, small amounts (1 drink a day) have fairly well established benefits for heart health, insulin resistance and even longevity!
- At the same time, no amount of alcohol is healthy for your liver, and even light drinking has been linked to a 20% increased risk of mouth and throat cancer.
- 12% of Americans suffer from alcohol dependency. If you have a family history of alcoholism, your risk is quite high of becoming dependent as well! (If you’re stressed and need relief, we have lots of natural medicines at the clinic (Theanine, Tranquility Formula, Lavender) that are great for taking the edge off of stress, as well as herbal teas like “Tension Tamer”, etc.
- The liver’s main job is to neutralize various toxins that you consume; because of this your liver is especially vulnerable to damage from alcohol. Fatty liver (increased fat cells inside the liver) and eventually cirrhosis (scaring of the liver) can result from even moderate alcohol intake. If you do drink, consider adding something like ‘lipotropic complex’ and
N-acetyl cysteine to your health regimen – they both contain ingredients that bolster liver health, and may protect if from alcohol-induced damage
Lastly, alcohol’s effects can vary widely from person to person. Some can tolerate more than others. Regardless, it’s generally considered a toxic substance (despite having health benefits – I know, confusing!) so if you do drink please do so in moderation and consider talking to one of our practitioners about ways you can limit it’s effects on your health!