April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Written by Lynde Weatherford | Director of Training Services, Personal Trainer and Health Coach

 

Understanding how alcohol processes in our body and how it affects our mental state is important. In moderation, enjoying an alcoholic beverage is perfectly okay!

Alcohol, to some, is considered the “fourth” macro nutrient. When it is consumed, it gives us 7.1g/kg of energy. The nutrients from alcohol aren’t as beneficial when consuming nutrient dense foods.

The alcohol that we consume with liquors, beer and wine is ethanol which is mainly metabolized by the liver. Our liver has a HUGE job in that it metabolizes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, alcohol and most drugs. This is why physicians may recommend that you not drink alcohol. We want to utilize our liver’s function to metabolize the drug rather than metabolizing alcohol.

Ethanol when metabolized by the liver is broken down into acetaldehyde which is a known carcinogen but that usually is short lived as it is quickly further broken down into acetate. Your liver’s function may affect how quickly alcohol is metabolized. Acetate is then broken down further into carbon dioxide and water to be eliminated by the body.

By knowing the metabolic process you can easily see how binging alcohol all at once can contribute to health issues when the liver is unable to keep up.

For most of us, alcohol consumption may not be an issue if you rarely consume it. People that choose to consume alcohol will need to learn how to incorporate it into their lifestyle without increasing the risk of health issues down the road.

The best thing that you can do for your health, is to spread out your alcohol consumption throughout the week instead of binging all at once. This allows your body to be able to metabolize the ethanol in a manner that doesn’t bog down the other duties.

If you choose to drink, women are recommended 1 standard drink a day and men are recommended 2 standard drinks per day.

Most alcoholic drinks can contain more than 1 standard drink in just “one” drink. beers can also contain more than 1 standard drink (example, IPA beer). Below is a picture to help you become more aware of what a standard drink is so that you can enjoy alcohol safely!

Image Credit: NIAAA

Binging alcohol is defined as “consuming 4 or more standard drinks per night for women and 5 or more standard drinks per night for men in a 2 hour span”. It is important to be mindful about how many drinks you consume in one sitting, or what you drink you are consuming, to make sure that you aren’t intaking more than the recommended amount. Your ability to metabolize alcohol depends on your age, gender and body composition.

Below is another tool to use the next time you decide to have a drink.

Standard Drink Calculator >>

https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/tools/calculators/drink-size-calculator.aspx

Keep this bookmarked on your phone so that it is quickly available. Seeing the data helps us to change our habits so we can improve our overall health.

Another trick is to always consume alcohol on a full stomach. Your body primarily works on digesting the food you are eating rather, than the alcohol to prevent your blood alcohol content increasing too quickly.

Consuming too much alcohol has a myriad of health issues correlated with that habit, but incorporating alcohol in a healthy way, helps you to have more control.

If you would like to learn more about alcohol consumption, visit the website linked below for more information. Our health coaches are here to help you in any way that we can.

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

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