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In 2016, go slow on the booze

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Angella Wali | January 6th 2016

NAIROBI: January is here and with it the decision to make certain changes in the way we have been living. For some, re-looking at their relationship with alcohol tops that list.

While consuming alcoholic drinks is a socially acceptable behaviour, alcohol is actually classified as a drug. At high doses, it depresses or slows down your body’s central nervous system while at lower doses, it stimulates the body inducing feelings of euphoria.

For many, the decision to reduce their booze intake is often driven by the desire to shed excess weight but from a nutritional point of view, scaling down one’s alcohol intake has other benefits.

Consuming 1g of alcohol gives about seven calories, which makes alcohol a calorie dense beverage. It however, does not offer other nutrients, that is why we refer to it as empty calories.

Further alcoholic intake often means that it replaces other foods in the diet since it is able to supply energy gotten from food.

This replacement will ultimately lead to malnutrition due to inadequate dietary intake. In this state, some essential nutrients - needed by the body but only available in food - will not reach the body and this leads to micronutrient deficiencies which in turn makes the body vulnerable to infections.

Alcohol is metabolised and processed in the liver as are other nutrients, including fat soluble vitamins. The metabolism of alcohol, however, takes highest priority which means that other nutrients will not be metabolised as they should which leads to micronutrient deficiencies that eventually cause severe dysfunction and damage to the brain and other organs.

Alcohol also interferes with mechanisms by which the body controls blood glucose levels, leading to either increased or decreased blood sugar. Increased blood sugar in non-diabetics for a short time might be harmless whereas decreased blood sugar can cause injury and even death.

So, this year as you contemplate life over that drink, think about what that drink means to your nutritional status.

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