WHAT IS NUTRITION?
WHO defines nutrition as “the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs.”
Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced meal, combined with regular physical activity- which becomes the cornerstone for good health. This supplies energy for work and provides the building blocks needed to replace damaged cells.
Alcoholics often tend to eat poorly – decreasing the supply of essential nutrients affecting both – physical activity and good health.
DIGESTION OF FOOD
Food is ideally digested to be available for energy and maintenance of the body. Digestion begins in the mouth and continues to the stomach to the intestines. The nutrients are absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream and carried to the liver.
Alcohol impairs the absorption of nutrients by damaging the cells lining the stomach and intestine. Thus, making it difficult for the nutrients to pass to the bloodstream.
ALCOHOL AND NUTRIENTS
ENERGY – Foods are made up of 3 essential components – Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. These are used as energy for doing physical activities. Some alcoholics tend to ingest as much as 50% of their daily calories from alcohol, which makes them neglect important foods and nutrients along with them.
Once alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and into your cells, it disrupts the water balance in muscle cells. This alters their ability to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy source of the muscles. (ATP is the fuel for the muscles to contract)
PROTEIN – An adequate protein diet is important for the body as all the cells in the body are mostly made up of proteins.
Alcohol affects this by causing impaired digestion of proteins. Impaired processing by small intestine and liver, impaired synthesis of protein from amino acids, impaired secretion of protein by the liver. Leading to many problems throughout the body.
VITAMINS – Vitamins are essential for normal growth and metabolism of physiological processes.
Alcohol hinders with the absorption of vitamins leading to deficiencies that can cause :
Vitamin A – can cause night blindness
Vitamin D – can cause softening of bones – causing fractures.
Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K – are involved in cell maintenance.
Vitamin K – necessary for blood clotting.
Deficiencies of these essential vitamins causes reduced brain functions and severe neurological damage.
MINERALS – Such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc are also needed by the body in trace amounts for the functioning.
Alcohol hinders the absorption of these that can cause medical consequences such as – bone diseases or skin lesions.
ALCOHOL AND WEIGHT GAIN
Does alcohol cause weight gain? – YES!
Alcohol is packed with sugar, carbohydrates and empty calories that will not do any good to your body but will add extra fats- making you gain weight. Also alcohol will most like;y make you eat more unhealthy foods than you usually do, adding more empty calories and fats that are not needed by the body.
Gaining weight is just one of the many considerations to keep in mind when it comes to alcohol. The only key is to limit how much you drink, when you drink and how often do you drink that can save you the trouble.
Alcohol is something that no one recommends and does no good to the body. Keeping away from such drinks and having better healthy replacements can help you a lot in staying healthy and disease free all throughout your life.