INSHAPE NEWS OPINION
Diana Robinson – Nutritionist
Is alcohol enhancing your fun or ruining your life? For many, it is a fine line between enjoying a drink socially with friends, and drinking so much you can’t stand up. Unfortunately, our culture prides itself on binge drinking. Despite all the drink driving ads – the ones about how alcoholism can destroy your life, and posters and labeling designed to reduce consumption – the underlying theme in Australia is that it is completely normal to write yourself off on the weekend with booze.
What Happens When You Drink Alcohol?
So what is going on in your body when you start to feel the effects of alcohol?
Firstly, your liver is very efficient at processing and removing toxins. It does it all day and night, every day for your entire life. It can handle processing a certain of toxins before it becomes overloaded, and the excess is then reabsorbed throughout the body before the liver has a chance to tackle it. When this occurs, you begin to feel drunk.
Well, the rate of alcohol consumption is too fast for the liver to keep up, and toxic substances pump around the body. Alcohol in excess affects not only your liver but also your brain chemistry. Increased inflammation in the body caused by poor diet and excess alcohol, inhibits the brain’s ability to form neurological pathways, which affects your mood. In short, regular binge drinking can increase the risk of depression, anxiety and mood disorders.
How Can You Counteract These Effects?
So, realistically, reading this article is probably not going to make stop drinking. But, there are some ways you can prevent some of the damage to your cells. These are as follows:
1.Take a liver supplement – Have St Mary’s Thistle (Milk Thistle) before and after drinking. This herb is an excellent liver tonic that can help reduce the harmful effects on the body. As such, it may also lessen the severity of your hangover the next day!
2. Eat plenty of antioxidants – Consume these preferably before, but definitely after, over indulging. There will be an abundance of free radicals (cell damaging nasty’s) circulating through your body reeking havoc unless you neutralise at least some of them with anti-oxidants. Eat a meal with some brightly coloured veg, good sources of fat and good quality protein. An example of a perfect recovery breakfast consists of poached eggs on sourdough toast with a side of avocado, spinach and mushrooms (mushrooms are high in B vitamins, which help process alcohol by the liver).
3. Hydrate – Like points 1 and 2, you’ll feel better if you hydrate before and after drinking. Use a powdered electrolyte supplement rather than sugary sports drinks.
How Do You Know If You Need Help?
The problem with all forms of addiction is that they are “self-diagnosed” conditions. This means that you need to be the one who takes responsibility for your actions because it really doesn’t matter how many people around you are telling you that you need help if you don’t acknowledge that you do. As the old adage says, “the first way to overcome a problem, is to recognise that there is a problem.”
And if you’re not sure if you have a problem with alcohol here are some of the most common symptoms of overuse or abuse:
- Regularly passing out and experiencing temporary blackouts and or memory loss.
- Do you exhibit signs of irritability and extreme mood swings?
- Justifying your alcohol use as “needing to relax”, or “going through a stressful period and it helps you feel normal”.
- Are you choosing to drink over family or professional responsibilities?
- Have you become isolated from friends and family?
- Do you drink when you’re alone or in secret?
Another great way to check on your habits is to use a sobriety calculator to see how long it’s been since your last drink. And if you can’t manage more than a day or even hours without alcohol, then reach out and speak with someone. Everyone needs a little help sometimes and there is no shame in getting the help you need. Just reach out, and you’ll be surprised at how many people are there for you.
Diana Robinson is a Melbourne based nutritionist working in clinical practice with a special interest in food intolerance, fitness and mood disorders.
Diana graduated from Melbourne’s Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Bachelor Degree in Health Science – Nutritional Medicine. She is a firm believer in living life to the full and taking care of your body by feeding it healthy, nutritious food but not forgetting to nourish your mental wellbeing also.
Diana encourages patients to seek enjoyment from the food they eat rather than having a negative relationship with food. When you learn to eat right, you will learn that food is your friend and not your enemy.
You can follow her Instagram for inspiration and recipes @dianar_nutrition.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have about any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.