Triglycerides Lowering Diet: Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Unlike caffeine, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Though it relaxes the drinker and has a mild tranquilizing effect, it also slows down physical processes.
Also the relaxant effect of alcohol helps remove inhibitions and improve congeniality or enhance pleasure at parties and other social gatherings. This is why people often socialize with a beer or a glass of wine in their hands.
Alcohol stimulates the appetite and increases the enjoyment of dining.
Unfortunately, many people take alcohol in amounts far beyond that which is needed to produce the social benefits. In fact, 10 percent of all alcohol consumers in the United States (10 million people) cannot limit their amount of alcohol use.
Some people may crave alcohol because they are allergic to the grains, grapes, or yeast from which the beverages are made. As with other food allergies, the sufferer may crave the food to which he or she is allergic. Thus, alcohol abuse in some people may be a manifestation of an underlying medical problem.
Alcohol itself has no particular nutritive value. It contains almost twice the calories of protein and carbohydrate foods (7 calories per gram). Unfortunately, these are empty calories.
Alcohol, like a simple sugar, is readily digested and easily absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract so it rapidly affects the blood sugar level after ingestion. Like other sugars, it increases hypoglycemia symptoms. Its excessive use can increase anxiety and mood swings.
Once absorbed and assimilated, alcohol is metabolized primarily by the liver and used immediately as energy or stored in the liver or in the rest of the body as fat.
Unfortunately, the liver cannot convert alcohol to a storage form of carbohydrates, such as glucose, which would be much more beneficial. As a result, with excessive alcohol use, the amount of fat stored in the liver increases.
Excessive intake of alcohol, however, can overwhelm the liver's ability to process it, leading to toxic byproducts.
Too much alcohol can also impede the body's ability to detoxify other chemicals including drugs, hormones such as estrogen, and pesticides that we take into our bodies by choice or through environmental contact. As a result, toxic levels of these chemicals can build up in the body.
In addition, alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body. So, its excessive intake can dehydrate the skin and tissues.
Alcohol's diuretic effect also causes the loss of excessive amounts of essential minerals through the urinary tract, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
More Reasons to Avoid or Limit Alcohol
Researchers have found that apart from adding calories to the diet, alcohol also prevents the burning of fat.
According to a Swiss study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, booze in the bloodstream can slow down fat metabolism more than 30 percent. Plus, alcohol drinkers don’t just drink alcohol – usually, they have it with chips or peanuts.
When alcohol (ethanol) is present in the blood, the liver prioritizes removing alcohol from the blood over other metabolic processes.
The liver can detoxify about one ounce of alcohol (distilled spirits) per hour, which is about 1 serving of an alcoholic beverage (equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine).
In the meantime, however, glucose tends to be further processed into triglycerides which raises their blood levels (some drinks may contain fruit, syrups, or other additives that increase their carbohydrate count, thus, triglyceride levels).
Alcohol also reduces the amount of the enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and spurs the liver to make more triglycerides.
Some people have increased susceptibility to developing raised triglycerides in response to alcohol. So if you do not require insulin, or are not diabetic, and consume alcohol regularly, you may be able to lower your elevated triglycerides just by avoiding alcohol.
In addition, alcohol will potentiate the toxicity of cholesterol-lowering medications much more than the drugs would do alone. Actually, this is the major problem with the statins - a class of drugs used in the standard medical treatment of elevated blood fats (hyperlipidemia), such as Lescol, Lipitor, or Zocor.
By drinking alcohol daily, you may increase your chances of serious statin side effects, especially liver problems. Therefore, to protect your liver, you should go easy on alcohol or avoid it completely while taking a statin drug.
In addition, alcohol irritates the lining of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. It also causes irritation and inflammation of the pancreas.
Over time, this can result in worsening of hypoglycemia and diabetes, as well as impaired absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients from the small intestine, such as B vitamins, necessary to stabilize these conditions.
How A Drink Can Affect Your Body?
The serving, or a 12-ounce bottle, of beer (5% alcohol) contains 0.6 ounce alcohol. The serving, or 1.5 ounce shot of whiskey (50% alcohol), contains 0.5 ounce alcohol.
It takes six bottles of 12-ounce beers containing 5 percent alcohol to equal the amount of alcohol contained in a 30-ounce bottle of wine that contains 12 percent alcohol.
Therefore, drinking beer is NOT safer than drinking wine or hard liquor such as vodka or whiskey. It is not the type of drink but rather the amount of alcohol consumed that determines the extent to which you are affected by drinking.
What about a “shot,” or 1.5 ounces, being the typical serving size for hard liquor? Mixed drinks, usually containing hard liquor, are much larger than 1.5 ounces as they have water, juice, or soft drinks. By comparison, a 12-ounce beer contains the same number of ounces of alcohol (0.6 ounces) and the rest is primarily water.
The percentage of alcohol in the drink and the serving size determine the amount of alcohol contained in an alcoholic beverage. In the United States, proof is a measure equivalent to twice the percentage of alcohol by volume; that is, an 80-proof liquor is 40 percent alcohol by volume.
Alcohol is first absorbed by the stomach and small intestine, then, incorporated into the bloodstream. Then alcohol goes to the liver, where it is metabolized (or broken down). After alcohol is metabolized, it passes through the kidneys, which process it for excretion in the urine.
The alcohol is not distributed evenly through the body - it stays in only certain types of body tissues. Its concentration is higher in the person with more body fat (same amount of alcohol in a lower total volume). This means that the higher-body-fat person is more affected by a given dose of alcohol than a lean person of the same size. Because females, on average, have more body fat than males, they tend to feel the effects of alcohol more readily than do men.
However, it is not possible to tell just by appearance how you will be affected by alcohol. Two people of the same size or weight may have different amounts of body fat.
Also the body size accounts for our variation in response to alcohol. A larger body means a greater blood volume for alcohol distribution as compared with a smaller body size with an equal body fat content. Thus, in general, a larger person will be less influenced by a given alcohol dose than a smaller person will.
However, the effects of alcohol on the body are more complex than body size and amount of body fat. Although females are usually smaller than males and have higher levels of body fat, a comparison strictly on the basis of gender is not accurate.
What about Wine?
Although there are many health experts that feel drinking alcohol is fine in moderation, this hypothesis needs to be verified and thoroughly tested. The fact is that alcohol has a very narrow therapeutic window and too much has an adverse overall effect, leading to
Wine is not for everyone. Certain medical conditions are worsened by the consumption of wine. Here are other dowsides of wine consumption:
Research has indicated that moderate intake of red wine can be beneficial to the heart health. Its cardioprotective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes.
It is believed the antioxidants, called flavonoids, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in three ways by:
It has been well documented that moderate amounts of alcohol can raise HDL-"good" cholesterol and thin the blood. This is thought to be one of the primary cardiovascular benefits from wine (red and white). Therefore, consuming one drink (defined as a 5-ounce a glass of wine) along with a meal may favorably influence your blood lipid profiles following that meal. But if you drink more than that, the possible health benefits will be lost and your health risks will go up. What matters with wine is the amount of wine you have.
Researchers at the University of California, at Davis have found the highest concentrations of flavonoids (antioxidants) in
White wine had significantly smaller amounts of flavonoids than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.
A four-ounce glass of wine is equivalent to one serving (drink). Men may benefit from consuming one to two servings every other day. Women may benefit from one serving every other day.
This is not to say that you should start drinking alcohol if you presently do not!
However, for some people, 1 drink may be plenty, 2 may be too many, and, unfortunately, 3 may be not half enough. Therefore, if you cannot restrict, for whatever reason, your drinking to light to moderate levels, you should not have alcohol.
You also need to be aware that consuming large amounts of red wine or just grapes - which have a much lower concentration of antioxidants than wine - will increase your insulin levels and eventually have a negative impact on your lipid health due to their high fructose (sugar) content.
Is wine good for you? Yes, but in moderation and as part of an overall healthy diet only. And these recommendations are limited to individuals with a clean bill of health. It is also clear that people with health problems, medical and social conditions worsened by alcohol should not consume any alcohol at all.
Hypertriglyceridemia (high blood triglyceride levels), pancreatitis, liver disease, diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, depression and congestive heart failure (CHF), or heart failure, are diseases that are worsened by drinking alcohol.
If you insist on drinking red wine you also need to check on the growing conditions of the grapes and how the wine is made. The wine should be made with organic grapes - free of toxic agricultural chemicals, synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
If it is NOT made from organically grown grapes - and with as little sulfur, synthetic stabilizers, colorings, etc. as possible - the wine may have few, if any, health benefits. For example, it may contain little antioxidants and/or no resveratrol at all. (Resveratrol is a prostate cancer-fighting compound found in red grapes from which red wine is being made).
However, the debate continues on whether it is the components of the wine, the way the wine is consumed, or the lifestyle traits that is the most responsible for the healthy lives of many wine drinkers.
Resveratrol (pronounced rez-VER-a-trawl), first isolated in 1940, has since been found in various plants, including grapes. Extensive research from all over the globe suggests that this red wine constituent has many properties, including potential anti-cancer and anti-aging activity.
Resveratrol (trans-3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene) is a protective compound produced by grapes and other plants in response to environmental stress. Studies have shown that it has potent antioxidant activity and the ability to inhibit platelet aggregation producing potent anti-thrombotic agents. These actions may help prevent free radical damage throughout the body and provide protective support to the cardiovascular system. Red wine also contains tannins, substances that act as antioxidants, which mop up free radicals - particles harmful to human cells.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation about resveratrol, so you need to keep the following in mind when reviewing articles and marketing information about related products.
Red wine is a rich source of resveratrol. On average, there is 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per liter (a liter is almost 34 ounces). For this reason, many sources reference resveratrol as "red wine polyphenols," "red-wine extract," etc. Actually, some studies focused on its health benefits used much greater dosages of resveratrol than the dosages actually found in an average glass of wine.
As resveratrol is found in the skins of grapes, red wine provides several times more resveratrol than white wine. That is because the longer the skin is kept on the grape during the wine making process, the greater the concentration of resveratrol in the wine. In the case of white wine production, the skin is removed before fermentation, giving white wines a lower concentration in resveratrol compared to red wines.
Also, as resveratrol is produced within the grape skin in response to attack by specific molds, grapes and wine produced in moist, northern climates (where these fungi are more prevalent) yield more resveratrol.
Resveratrol is vulnerable to rapid destruction by light and oxygen. Storing wine in airtight, cool conditions away from sunlight can protect its resveratrol content. In fact, the maximum resveratrol potency is available only immediately after a bottle of wine is opened.
Unfortunately, making wine also involves the potential damage from alcohol and preservatives; therefore, many people prefer a dietary supplement source for resveratrol.
Consequently, instead of drinking a 5-ounce a glass of red wine a few times a week, you can take a quality resveratrol supplement a few times a week. Mind you, there is only 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per liter of red wine (a liter is almost 34 ounces, that is almost seven drinks).
The Binge Belly (New Study)
According to a new U.S. study on how drinking alcohol affects the accumulation of abdominal fat, or 'central adiposity' - an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases - binge drinking is more responsible for beer bellies than beer itself. Therefore, the unhealthy beer belly, or ‘beer gut’, might be better known as a 'binge belly.'
This comprehensive, epidemiological study, involving 2,343 randomly selected men and women aged between 35 and 79, has found those who drank small amounts of alcohol regularly had the smallest beer bellies, while sporadic but intense drinking - involving more than three to four drinks on each occasion - resulted in the biggest bellies, stomachs sagging over the belts.
The researchers collected information on how much and how often people had drunk during the past 30 days, what type of alcohol it was and whether they drank it with or without food.
What they have found is that men and women who drank infrequently but heavily had more abdominal fat than people who consumed the same amount but drank regularly. In other words, the more drinks per drinking day, the higher the abdominal measurement.
Definitely, the way we drink is as important as the amount of alcohol we consume and binge drinking is an unhealthy way of consuming alcohol. It does not mean, however, that persons with abdominal fat should start drinking.
It should be added that, despite their huge bellies, men often have very thin arms and legs, Unfortunately, the abdominal fat causing the problem in this condition lies not only under the skin, but also in the internal cavity of the abdomen itself.
The study was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.