Does Alcohol Impair Nutrition?

Does Alcohol Impair Nutrition?

Does Alcohol Impair Nutrition?

Good nutrition and healthy eating habits are an essential part of providing energy for and maintaining function. Many people with alcoholism tend to eat less than the necessary amount of food to provide their vitamins and minerals for the day. Alcohol interferes with the nutrition process by impacting digestion, utilization, and excretion of nutrients. Learn more about the consequences of drinking alcohol on overall nutrition and how to combat the effects.

How Nutrition Works

The digestive system works in a very meticulous way. The body begins to break down food into usable molecules and continues this process in the stomach and intestines. The pancreas helps this process. Nutrients are absorbed into the blood from the intestines and carried to the liver where they are prepared for immediate use or later storage.

Alcohol and Digestion

The challenge of alcohol and digestion is that it inhibits the natural breakdown of nutrients in many ways, including:

  • Decreased secretion of digestive enzymes in the pancreas
  • Impaired nutrient absorption by damaging cells lining stomach and intestines
  • Disabling transport of nutrients into the blood
  • Prevention of nutrients from being absorbed
  • Alteration of transport, storage, and excretion of nutrients for body to function

Energy Supply

Eating a balanced diet provides the body with necessary calories and nutrients for energy. Some people with alcoholism ingest as much as 50% of their total daily calories from alcohol. There are calories in it, but the body processes them differently and uses energy from alcohol differently than calories from food. Chronic drinking can cause the body to use microsomal ethanol-oxidizing system (MEOS) to metabolize alcohol. Much of this energy is lost as heat rather than used for energy.

Other systems can also be impacted in the body by drinking alcohol. The body works as a whole system. Proteins, vitamins, and minerals are necessary for proper body function. Alcohol can impact proper body functioning by causing nutrient deficiencies and by disrupting the ‘machinery’ the body uses to metabolize nutrients. Some things to consider when it comes to nutrition:

  • Metabolism and utilization of vitamins can decrease with alcoholism, causing deficiencies
  • People who drink excessively usually have deficient stores of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc
  • Pancreatitis can occur from a diet deficient in protein
  • Brain damage can occur
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome can impair the nutrients necessary for a healthy fetus

Self care is really important for people who drink excessively. It is key to know about the negative health issues associated with alcoholism. Supplementing the diet can be helpful but the best way to combat the effects is to make sure you get help for alcoholism, followed by support for overall health and wellness.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. We also help you navigate nutritional issues and support your overall health. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.