How Diet and Body Chemistry Affect Alcohol Addiction

How Diet and Body Chemistry Affect Alcohol AddictionAn individual’s unique body chemistry and diet significantly affects alcohol absorption and intoxication. A poor diet can make alcohol addiction worse, so get help today learning to manage your symptoms through healthy food practices.

Nutrition and Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse often leads to poor nutrition. Alcoholic drinks can account for as much as 50 percent of daily calories for some alcoholics, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It is difficult to determine how many drinks a day will contribute to malnutrition. Experts at the NIAAA estimate that two drinks or fewer per day will have little impact on nutrition. A heavy drinker, or a person who drinks more than two drinks a day, could damage his nutritional health, particularly if he has a poor diet. Without important vitamins and minerals, people can suffer fatigue and depression, which can strengthen the urge to drink.

Because alcohol affects food digestion and the absorption of minerals, it can make people who are already suffering from malnutrition even more malnourished. Alcohol affects the way the small intestines and liver synthesize amino acids from proteins, which weakens cell growth and health.

The NIAAA notes that many heavy drinkers do not get adequate amounts of the following essentials:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins
  • Calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc

The effects of such an unhealthy diet can devastate people who are recovering from alcoholism.

Body Chemistry and Alcoholism

Due to a difference in body chemistry, men and women respond to alcohol differently. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), women are more likely to feel alcohol’s effects sooner than men, because their bodies tend to have more fat and less water. Also, women’s bodies metabolize alcohol differently than do men’s. When women have an alcoholic beverage, it is more highly concentrated, meaning they feel the effects more strongly. Women also process less alcohol in the stomach, instead processing more in the small intestines, which leads to higher levels of intoxication from one drink. During menstruation, women also may be more prone to intoxication. To protect their health, women should drink no more than one drink per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A standard drink of alcohol equals the following volumes:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor

If women drink more than this in a day (doubled for men), this constitutes as alcohol abuse.

Help with Alcoholism

We are available 24 hours a day to help you or a loved one with alcoholism. Our staff offers information and guidance about quality treatment programs and the recovery process. Don’t wait to find the right treatment center; call our toll-free helpline anytime and get started on a healthy future.