How are you feeling today after a few days of your cleanse?
Those who have managed to cut out caffeine, did you have any headaches and if so, do you feel better now?
For most it is 5 days through the cleanse, some others a little longer. It’s suggested that you avoid alcohol for at least the first weekend of your cleanse to fully support your liver (intestines and kidneys too)! About 90-98 per cent of alcohol that you drink is broken down in your liver. The other 2-10 per cent of alcohol is removed in your urine, breathed out through your lungs or excreted in your sweat. After you swallow an alcoholic drink, about 25% of the alcohol is absorbed straight from your stomach into the bloodstream. The rest is mostly absorbed from your small bowel.
This means that the kidneys will have to work overtime to try and pull the toxic metabolites that alcohol creates out of the system. Short-term effects of alcohol on your excretory system include:
- More frequent urination.
- Heightened blood pressure.
- Bladder irritation
Women’s bodies process alcohol at a slower rate than men, so the effects of alcohol are about twice that of one drink for men. So why are women more sensitive to the effects of alcohol?
- Body Fat In general, women tend to weigh less than men and their bodies are composed of more fatty tissue and often, less water. Naturally, water dilutes alcohol, but fat retains it, concentrating the effects of alcohol in a woman’s system for a longer period of time.
- Metabolism – Women have lower levels of the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, which break down alcohol in the stomach and liver. Hormonal changes and levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle also have effects on the way alcohol is metabolised.
Here are some of the ways alcohol negatively impacts women’s health:
- Weight Gain and Increased Appetite By suppressing the hunger regulating hormone leptin, alcohol can make you hungrier, and more likely to binge eat due to lowered inhibitions and increasing the hunger hormone, Ghrelin. It causes cortisol to rise which affects your blood sugar levels.
- Alcohol affects oestrogen balance at all stages of life. It raises oestrogen levels and SLOWS fat burning. Pre menopause it can lead to too much oestrogen relative to progesterone and then encourage heavy bleeding, PMS, night sweats and hot flushes. In menopausal women, drinking 1-2 units /day raises oestrone and DHEAS, another hormone that can be converted into oestrogen. Excess may increase risk of breast cancer. In a vicious cycle, excess fat after menopause is more likely to produce oestrogen out of testosterone, a process called aromatisation.
- Losing Focus Alcohol affects the body’s ability to regenerate. On average, the consumption of alcohol decreases the production of adult brain cells by as much as 40 percent, meaning the useful cells in your body are killed while the damaged ones are inhibited from repair.
- Alcohol is a neurotoxin and after the age of 40 the blood brain barrier (BBB) gets thinner, so alcohol attacks cells more easily. Alcohol also causes this BBB to become leaky which is linked to multiple brain/body problems including MS, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Blood Pressure Spikes It may already be self-evident that alcohol causes your blood pressure to rise, but women are especially at a higher risk here. Research has shown that women who drank more than 10 units a week had a blood pressure level of 12 points higher than normal, twice as high as levels seen in men.
Alcohol acts as a disinfectant in the gut.
It kills many of the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines and this will reduce your immune resilience since 70-80% of your immune cells reside in the gut membrane. Our body needs these bacteria as they support a healthy gut microbiome and many additional critical processes.
Alternative drinks to enjoy:
Incorporating herbal teas such as dandelion root, nettle, or green tea into your meal plan is a great way to support liver and kidney function.
Iced tea: Brew some of your favourite herbal tea, I like 3 ginger or a strong mint. Use either loose leaf or a few teabags for extra flavour in a litre of boiing water poured into a large glass bottle/jug. When cooled, remove the teabags, loose leaves and add freshly squeezed lemon juice (if desired) then refrigerate and serve with ice cube/sparking water or even neat. I add mint leaves and lime to my peppermint mix.
Juice Spritzer: Mix sparkling water with a freshly made juice. Ginger and turmeric shots are also great when mixed with a little water.
Kombucha in a wine/champagne glass
Share your favourite substitute!
A really interesting podcast to listen to about alcohol is this one by a renowned neuroscientist – Have a listen and let me know what you think 🙂