The Question of Alcohol in you Diet
Alcohol, like caffeine and nicotine, is a drug. As such, it is capable of bringing about serious damage to mind and body when taken over a long period of time. Made from the fermentation of carbohydrates with yeast enzymes, alcohol is rapidly absorbed through the digestive system, affecting coordination of the muscles, nerves, and vision. It also stimulates stomach secretions, inhibits mobilization of lymphocytes so that the body’s ability to fight infection is reduced, and causes sludging in the red blood cells, thereby reducing oxygen to the heart and lungs. And it affects the brain, adversely affecting the specific centers that govern self- control, judgment, and personal inhibitions.
Alcohol is a depressant. The transient feeling of well-being that goes with a couple of glasses of whisky or a dry martini—the “lift”—is followed by a series of miseries to which your body is subjected, not the least of which, for a woman, is the effect drinking alcohol has on the liver. And the insidious thing about the detrimental effects which alcohol has on health and beauty is that they occur even to the average social drinker, not just to the serious drinker and the alcoholic.
A joint study by Dr. Charles S. Leiber of the Section of Liver Disease and Nutrition at Bronx Veterans Administration and Dr. Emanuel Rubin of the Department of Pathology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that too much social drinking can cause serious damage to the liver, even though the drinker may feel fine, act normally under the influence of alcohol, and not be an alcoholic. Leiber and Rubim took a group of healthy nonalcoholic volunteers and put them on a carefully controlled eight-day drinking regimen. Then they tested the subjects’ livers to see what changes, if any, the alcohol had caused. The amount given to a particular group was considered equivalent to the average intake of a business executive-7 ounces of 86-proof whisky per day for the first four days, 11 ounces for the new two, and then 14 ounces for the last two. The results were surprising: there was an increase in the fat levels in the subjects’ liver of from five to thirteen times, all in only eight days, and in spite of the fact that the diet of the subjects had been supplemented with vitamins.
Similar studies have turned up similar results. Researchers have also found that liver-cell damage and the increase in fat in the liver can be reversible if the drinker abstains from alcohol for long enough. But longterm damage to the liver resulting from daily consumption of alcohol over the years can be irreversible. Persistent drinking can also be a precursor not only to specific diseases of the liver such as cirrhosis, but also to other toxic conditions in the body.
Next to the skin, your liver is your body’s largest organ. In many ways it is also the most important. One could, for instance, live without a stomach if necessary but never without a liver. It is the body’s chemical purifier, performing more than five hundred different functions, many concerned with detoxifying the system from all the drugs, pollutants, and poisons you take in every day, including alcohol. If the liver is overworked or worn out by excess alcohol consumption, eventually and unavoidably your whole body suffers. Biochemists used to believe that excess alcohol was no more damaging to the liver than too much sugar or too much fat in the diet; that the real damage to the liver came only from malnutrition. But these theories have been disproved. Both the quantity of alcohol you drink and the duration of time over which you drink it are important factors in determining liver damage.
Because the liver is responsible either directly or indirectly for controlling levels of many hormones in a woman’s body (particularly estrogen), when liver damage occurs as the result of a diet too high in fats or of drug taking or long-term alcoholic consumption, the endocrine balance can be severely upset, leading not only to disruption of the menstrual cycle but also indirectly to feelings of depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.
These troubles may have another cause, also related to alcohol. In order to metabolize alcohol, your body calls on its reserve of many B- complex vitamins which act as coenzymes in the process. When one eats foods containing natural concentrations of carbohydrates or sugar, such as grains and fruits, the B-complex vitamins necessary for their proper digestion and assimilation are provided by nature in the foods themselves. But the B-complex vitamins have been discarded in the processing of highly refined sugars and alcohol. So the body’s own reserves can easily get depleted when you drink alcohol and eat refined sugars. Results of this depletion are many, the most common of which can be fatigue, a craving for more alcohol or sweets, or diverse emotional complaints from severe premenstrual tension to simple feelings of chronic misery.
These are just some of the reasons why the Lifestyle Diet excludes alcohol in quantities of more than a glass of wine a day. This may seem like a tremendous sacrifice to you if you are used to taking a great deal more, but once you eliminate stimulants such as coffee, tea, and alcohol from your life and begin to experience the enormous sense of well-being that comes with the low fat, low protein, complex carbohydrate diet (and all the other important things that also go with discovering and expressing your potentials mentally and physically, such as deep relaxation and exercise), you will never miss it.