Giving up alcohol is essential of you want to get the best from your detox diet. Your liver is your main organ for detox and it is the only organ that metabolizes alcohol and it takes precedence over other functions. So. if you want to detox you need to avoid anything that gives your liver extra work.
What’s wrong with alcohol?
Alcohol is a drug and a poison, a toxin in fact, that has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain and inhibitions. Although many people believe it to be a stimulant it is in fact a depressant decreasing your digestion, thinking, judgment, reaction time, and muscle contraction.
It increases blood fats and can increase blood pressure. Regular drinking can result in a fatty liver as the carbohydrate content is converted to fat in the liver cells which builds up and damages the cells.
Evidence of weekend binge drinking among hard working and stressed women and men is causing a huge increase in liver disease. Continued heavy use of alcohol, of course, results in cirrhosis of the liver. In fact alcohol can cause a rise in the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn reduces the body’s ability to burn calories.
Alcohol feeds Candida and other yeast infections.
Alcohol affects fertility in both men and women
New research shows that wine can reduce the chances of the embryo implanting and increased risk of miscarriage when women have IVF treatment. Beer is known to affect the quality of a man’s sperm. Experts extend the warning to all couple trying for a baby. Eggs & sperm take three months to develop so both partners should stop smoking and drinking for 3
months before trying to conceive.
Alcohol & nutrients
Alcohol has adverse effects on almost every nutrient especially the B vitamins and Vitamin C. The minerals calcium, magnesium and zinc can be depleted in people who drink large quantities of alcohol. Fatty acids become deficient too. There is increasing evidence that many cases of alcoholism are due to a deficiency of nutrients and hypoglygemia.
Alcohol is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and causes a rapid rise in blood sugar faster even than sucrose. The initial rise makes you feel good and gives extra energy but eventually your blood sugar level comes crashing down which makes you feel you want another drink or other sugar boost to reverse the unpleasant symptoms.
A few benefits
Some of alcohol’s positive effects include relief of stress, stimulation of appetite and dilation of of blood vessels improving blood flow. However there are much healthier and better ways of doing this.
Conflicting advice on drinking alcohol
On the one hand we hear that red wine is full of antioxidants and a glass or two every day can help prevent heart disease. On the other hand we are told to avoid alcohol if we want to avoid cancer. The risk of developing cancer of the liver, breast (through the increase of estrogen), pancreas, esophagus, larynx, and mouth are increased if you drink alcohol.
A number of studies show that moderate alcohol consumption can increase HDL, the good cholesterol, and reduce the accumulation of plaque in arteries protecting against heart disease. It also has a mild anti clot forming effect. Exactly how it does this is not clear.
On the other hand, drinking more than three drinks a day can damage your heart and lead to high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, (enlarged and weakened heart), congestive heart failure, and stroke.
The best way to reduce your risk of heart disease is eating right, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.
How does the liver detox alcohol?
Alcohol is first detoxified through the Phase 1 liver detox pathway by two enzymes that convert it to highly toxic substances. One enzyme, known as alcohol dehydrogenase, needs zinc to function properly and the other, aldehyde oxidase relies on molybdenum. Acetaldeyhyde, a by-product of alcohol metabolism by the liver, is almost 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself.
If you are deficient in either zinc or molybdenum then you will not detox alcohol properly and get a build up of chloral hydrate which gives you that dopey, spacey, dizzy feeling.
The amino acid glutathione plays a key role in the Phase 2 liver detoxification of alcohol. Glutathione binds to the aldehydes and ketones produced by Phase 1 and transforms them into compounds that can be excreted in the bile or urine. Having enough glutathione is important to prevent hangovers.
Some of alcohol’s worst effects, however, are caused by the free radicals produced as a result of its metabolism. These damage cell membranes and impair their function.
Giving up for detox
If you are in the habit of drinking every day you might find this more difficult that you thought it would be. In fact the detox diet with its high intake of alkaline forming foods and vegetable juices can help. Rehydrating with plenty of pure water, fresh juices, green and herbal teas will help enormously. Dilute fruit juices half and half with water.
Small regular meals of complex carbohydrate such as whole grains, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds and some protein such as clean fish and poultry is the way to go. This should provide sufficient fiber for good bowel function but if not then add some linseeds or psyllium husk powder.
If you have been drinking heavily you will need more nutritional support that someone who drinks very little. Take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains at least 50mg of the B vitamins, 400 mg of magnesium and 25mg zinc. Make sure it also contains molybdenum. Take 2 – 4 grams of Vitamin C a day. Add some Omega 3 and 6 essential oils.
The amino acid L- glutamine can help with alcohol cravings and withdrawal. Take 2 – 4 grams a day between meals or at least 30 mins before. L-Carnitine may also help with cravings at a dose of 1 gram a day. Spirulina at 1 – 3 teaspoons a day may help with blood sugar regulation. Silymarin, the active extract of the herb Milk Thistle is a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs the liver cells. It can also help to regenerate glutathione.
It may also be helpful to stay away from occasions where you might be tempted to drink.
After the detox
After your detox you might want to continue avoiding alcohol to give you liver a chance to really recover if you were in the habit of drinking regularly.
If you still feel you need alcohol to unwind clinical hypnotherapist Georgia Foster says run bath, do yoga or have a swim. Just sitting for 15 minutes and focusing on your breathing can help relax you.
It helps to make sure your blood sugar level is steady. Hunger and thirst create the desire for alcohol. Eating small frequent complex carbohydrate meals will help to keep you blood sugar steady. Have some nuts or seeds or a healthy naturally sweetened bar to hand to fill the gaps.
When you feel the need for a drink try a green smoothie instead.