Here's How to Heal Your Body From Alcohol Use
You’ve probably seen those memes on the internet that show how once you hit your 30’s, you don’t bounce back from alcohol like you used to.
And if you’ve regularly consumed alcohol as an adult, you’ve probably experienced the worsening of your hangovers as you’ve gotten a bit older. Maybe even noticed that even 1-2 drinks leaves you feeling groggy and unmotivated the next day. When you overdo it with more than a few drinks, you’ve probably noticed it can take 2 or 3 days before you feel like yourself again.
So what’s the solution?
The hangover pills, electrolyte drinks, and even vitamin drip IVs sound like they might be able to do the trick, but let’s face it — alcohol is a toxin. The only way to actually avoid a hangover is not by drinking at all (sorry)!
If you’ve consumed alcohol regularly for much of your adult life, there’s a good chance that your body has been affected negatively from its consumption.
Even if you don’t drink alcohol at a level that might be classified as having an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), you may still have negative health effects from drinking.
Here are some of the ways that alcohol can affect your body, even if you don’t drink to excess or on a daily basis:
Alcohol does a number on our body’s nutritional stores. That’s because our body requires additional nutrients to help metabolize the toxic substance. The more we drink, the more we reduce nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, zinc and more. These deficiencies leave us with low energy, low mood, hormonal imbalances, sluggish metabolism, a weakened immune system and more.
Gut health effects:
Alcohol is highly disruptive to both the gut microbiome as well as the gut lining. When it comes to the gut microbiome, alcohol changes the balance of healthy probiotic bacteria to an unhealthy balance, what we sometimes refer to as dysbiosis. Alcohol also irritates the fragile layer of the gut and can contribute to intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut”. If you’ve taken a probiotic or other gut support supplement and haven’t noticed improvement, it may be due to your alcohol use history.
Cortisol and hormonal imbalances
When we’re chronically drinking alcohol, it changes how our body releases hormones, including our stress hormone known as cortisol. After even a single night of drinking, it can take up to a full week for the body to recover. These changes to cortisol can also have downstream effects on other hormones, like our sex hormones and metabolism management hormones.
And while it might seem overwhelming to think of the damage that might have been caused from years of alcohol use, here’s the good news: you can support your body to heal!
Here are my top three ways to repair the body post-alcohol use:
Eat a varied, colorful diet rich in fruits, vegetables and plant foods. This ensures that you’re consuming a range of vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (aka antioxidants). Consider supplementing with vitamins that you may be lacking, like B vitamins or Vitamin D.
Support your gut:
Upping your fruit and veggie intake will also ensure you’re getting lots of fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in the gut and helps to regulate digestion. Elimination or minimization of alcohol will be so important to help repair the lining of the gut.
Rebalance your hormonal pathways:
Balancing hormones not only requires the supportive foods from above, but also can be supported by increasing your protein intake. Make sure you’re consuming protein-rich foods at EVERY meal and snack. Minimizing stress is also KEY to hormone balance — instead of reaching for a drink when stress kicks up, start incorporating movement, meditation, journaling, or other activities to lower stress.
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