Holiday season means holiday drinks… and we love them too…
…but you may need more nutrients if you’re drinking a lot this season (keep reading).
While constant alcohol consumption may not be good for our health, removing alcohol from someones consumption is not one of the first things I go for when clients come to see me– particularly not at this time of year. I do however get many questions about what alcohol does to our bodies, and that I want to address right here.
For those of you who think that alcohol causes our bodies to process nutrients differently you’re right. They do. In fact alcohol does change regular metabolism as well as nutrient metabolism, because it gets prioritized first and the rest comes behind it. Meaning that if you’ve just worked out, I don’t suggest having a drink because your muscle will get the fuel it’s looking for in the snack you just had… after your body is done processing the alcohol. To put it simply, drinking alcohol means you do not get the same quality of nutrition from food than you would if you were not drinking.
There are some nutrients that are more negatively impacted by alcohol than others. So, it is extra important to be sure to get more of those ones both before and after episodes of drinking.
9 Nutrients to Get More of When Drinking (Hello Holidays)
- B Vitamins. These include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), as well as folate (B9) and vitamin B12. B vitamins play many important roles in the body, including helping break down food into energy and producing red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. It is so, so important to get extra B vitamins when drinking. While food should come first, you may even want to consider doubling up on your multivitamin dose surrounding a drinking event.
- Good food sources: Salmon, leafy greens, asparagus, eggs, beans, whole grains, and meats.
- Water. Ever notice that you have to pee more when you drink? This is because alcohol is a type of diuretic, which means it causes the body to remove more fluids via urination. If you don’t drink enough water while drinking alcohol, you can become dehydrated very quickly which often means worse headaches and hangover symptoms. No thank you! While you can (and should) be sure to drink plenty of water in liquid form, many foods can help prevent dehydration as well.
- Good food sources: Grapefruit, watermelon, celery, cucumber, tomato, melon, and lettuce all have a high water content and can help make sure you stay hydrated.
- Zinc. This mineral is required for a healthy immune system, promotes wound healing, help with cell division for growth, plays a role in your sense of smell and taste, and much more. Zinc is often provided in a multivitamin but it’s even more important to eat foods rich in zinc especially around drinking occasions.
- Good food sources: Nuts, seeds, shellfish, dairy, whole grains, and even dark chocolate (yum!)
- Calcium & vitamin D. Alcohol interferes with the production of vitamin D, which also impacts calcium. It can cause more calcium to be lost in the urine, so these are both nutrients to make sure you’re getting more of when drinking.
- Good food sources: Almonds, broccoli, dairy products, beans and lentils are good sources of calcium, while vitamin D should come from supplementation.
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for vision, immune system, and bone and skin health, and alcohol can cause a deficiency of it.
- Good food sources: fish, cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, and dairy products.
- Vitamin C. This vitamin is water-soluble, meaning that water is needed to absorb it in the body. Since alcohol is dehydrating as described, many water soluble vitamins can get lost in the urine along the way.
- Good food sources: Citrus fruits, broccoli, kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, and tomatoes.
- Protein. Alcohol interferes with protein metabolism and people who drink more alcohol are at a higher risk of protein malnutrition. Another benefit of eating more protein when drinking, though, is that protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates which may lead to less grazing on carbs!
- Good food sources: Eggs, meat, fish, poultry, beans, lentils, dairy, nuts, seeds, and soy are all great sources.
- Potassium. While most research shows that only chronic alcoholism can cause a significant deficiency of potassium, it is still a good idea to consume more potassium even when drinking more lightly.
- Good food sources: Tropical fruits like banana, mango and kiwi as well as potatoes, avocados, tomatoes, and coconut.
It may seem like you basically need to get more of everything when drinking; but the good news is that by following a balanced diet that includes a large variety of foods in addition to taking a high quality multivitamin (ask us for help here), you can cover all of your bases. The important thing is to just be extra aware of what you’re eating around drinking episodes to make sure you’re getting enough (extra).
Questions? Let us know. We are always here to help!