How Alcohol Can Negatively Affect Your Hormones
Unfortunately, alcohol consumption comes with a lot of negative effects when consumed in excess. Despite how much we may love it, too much can lead to vitamin deficiencies, suppressed adrenals, unbalanced blood sugar levels, and exacerbated hormonal issues. Because of these risks, it’s important to understand exactly how alcohol affects your body and how to consume it in healthy amounts.
When it comes to hormones, men and women naturally have a slightly different makeup, and consequently, the things they consume will affect them in different ways. For one, women process alcohol at a much slower rate than men, which means if a man and a woman consume the same amount of alcohol in a night, the woman will generally feel a greater physical impact. Seems unfair, right? Fair or not, it’s a good piece of information to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to order another drink to keep up with your friend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, women should not exceed 1 drink per day and men should not exceed 2 drinks per day.
For all genders, one of the negative effects of alcohol is a depletion magnesium and vitamin B in the body. What happens when your body isn’t getting enough of these? Well, these vitamins are essential for proper hormone balance, so when you couple this depletion in healthy hormone-balancing vitamins with alcohol’s tendency to naturally raise your estrogen levels, you can see how a night of drinking might throw your hormones more than a little out of whack. For most people without any hormonal based health issues, as long as you generally stick within those guidelines of healthy alcohol consumption, you are probably fine. But, if you drink in excess or if you have any estrogen-dominant hormonal health issue, such as PCOS, fibroids, and endometriosis, alcohol can definitely worsen symptoms and lead to more severe health issues down the line. (If you struggle with any hormonal health issues, it’s best to discuss with your doctor if alcohol should be a part of your diet at all.)
And alcohol is affecting more than just your estrogen. When your body consumes sugar, including the refined carbs present in alcohol, your insulin levels spike. This spike disrupts your blood sugar function and desensitizes your body to the appetite-controlling hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ever wonder why you find yourself craving greasy food after a few drinks and a huge breakfast the next morning? Your body is no longer paying attention to the signals that are telling it “stop, that’s enough, you’re full.” To top it off, those extra calories you’re consuming (especially the ones coming from bad kinds of fat) aren’t helping to restore that proper hormonal balance, they’re making it worse.
One last effect to keep in mind is that sugar and refined carbs from any source create inflammation in the gut and disrupt the microbiota. This means you aren’t able to absorb vitamins and minerals the way your body usually does. So not only are you haven’t too many calories at this point, but you’re not even absorbing as much of the healthy nutrients in your food as your body normally would. All of this makes keeping a healthy weight nearly impossible.
Does this mean you should never drink alcohol? Of course not. As long as your doctor hasn’t given you a health-related reason that you shouldn’t be drinking at all, and you’re sticking within the CDC’s guidelines, a moderate amount of alcohol each day can actually have some health benefits. What this means is that if you want a healthy hormone balance and to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, sugar and alcohol in excess is not the way to go. Okay, so this isn’t exactly breaking news, but now at least you understand why these things are working against you.