Spread the Health

What You Don’t See When You Drink

We know that drinking alcohol can come with downsides like empty calories and overeating. But did you know that alcohol can keep you from getting the proper nutrients your body needs? It’s simple: in the body, booze gets priority. When alcohol enters the digestive tract, the body starts to metabolize it immediately, kicking other foods to the curb and preventing proper absorption of essential nutrients. [1]


What’s an essential nutrient?
These are molecules our bodies need in order to function normally. Unfortunately, they are nutrients your body can’t make enough of on its own. (And hence the importance of a well-balanced diet!) [2]

Here are a few of the nutrients your body might lose as it puts alcohol above food:

  • Potassium: A major player in muscle contraction and neuronal signaling
  • Vitamin B group: Molecules that increase the rate of metabolism and enhance immune system function
  • Vitamin A: An essential component of bone growth and visual function

The Evidence:
In addition to interrupting nutrient absorption, studies show that alcohol consumption increases the breakdown of Vitamin A, leading to a deficiency that may cause visual impairment or other eye disorders. [3]

The Truth:
There are many ways to make smarter choices and have good nutrition if you choose to drink.
Here’s how –

  1. Limit and keep track of your drinks—don’t overload your digestive tract or liver!
  2. Alternate each drink with water—hydrating may aid nutrient digestion and absorption.
  3. Educate yourself on nutrient deficiencies—think before you drink!
  4. Remember your fitness goals—proper nutrition and weight loss go hand-in-hand.
  5. Eat healthily before, while, and after you drink—start replenishing your body ASAP.

[1] “Alcohol and Nutrition.” Kovacs, Betty, MD. Medicine Net 2012, http://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_nutrition/article.htm.

[2] “Essential Nutrients in the World’s Healthiest Foods.” The George Mateljan Foundation, 2012 http://www.whfoods.com/nutrientstoc.php

[3] “Relationships Between Nutrition, Alcohol Use, and Liver Disease.” Lieber, Charles S., MD, MACP. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 29 September 2004 http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-3/220-231.htm

Additional Resources:
Proper Nutrition in Weight Loss.” Morin, Tina, Livestrong. 26 April 2011, http://www.livestrong.com/article/362510-proper-nutrition-in-weight-loss/.

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