Damage Control: How To Balance Alcohol with Good Nutrition

We are realists, with a firm belief that a healthy life can be a fun one too. No one is happy in a constant state of deprivation, so our approach is to find the best ways to offset those naughty little indulgences – least of which is a bottle of wine or perfect martini.

We all know that drinking alcohol isn’t good for us, but whether wine, beer or spirits, most of us make room for this treat, healthy diet or no. Give us a full-bodied organic merlot with our favorite DIY raw chocolate bar, a mimosa with Pressed Juicery’s Citrus 3 (grapefruit and mint) with protein pancakes, or an ice-cold cucumber margarita along with portabella mushroom tacos – we are happy campers. However, in order to ease our health-aware minds  and save our body from an overload of toxins, we are taking a look at therapeutic nutrition to target the liver.

The liver bears the brunt of the work when it comes to alcohol consumption, it is the body’s first line of defense against ingested toxins. Once alcohol reaches the liver, it releases enzymes to process it. If the liver is overwhelmed – from general toxicity or from too much alcohol – the excess alcohol circulates around the body until the liver is able to process it. This is when the body really becomes compromised, because the circulating alcohol has a chance to damage the tissues throughout the body. To prevent this from happening, it is very important to support the liver while consuming alcohol.

There are other ways in which alcohol damages the liver: impairment of fatty-acid synthesis which leads to the accumulation of fat (fat accumulation in the liver can be seen after one night of drinking), the death of liver cells, the formation of fibrous scar tissue, and the impairment of processing nutrients, hormones and production of energy. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the many ways our body is damaged by one of our favorite indulgences.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for offsetting the wine cellar cause and effect. These tips will help keep to your conscience clear and keep you free you to focus on enjoying that winter hot toddy or special glass of champagne…

Take your B Vitamins. B vitamins are needed by the liver to activate its key detoxification pathway, phase one and phase two, which is critical for the elimination of alcohol. Without B vitamins, the alcohol is not properly cleared, leaving it to circulate and cause harm. To make B vitamin supplementation even more vital, the very process of drinking decreases our B vitamin reserves, often leaving us depleted from the get-go.

The Form: Make sure to take only live-source B vitamins. Synthetic B vitamins are often derived from coal-tar and do not support the body in the way that we need. Furthermore, synthetic B vitamins (not live-source) may even cause stress on the body since they are harder to utilize. Look for B vitamin supplements that list whole-food ingredients such as Max B ND by Premier Research Labs, or increase your intake of the cheesy superfood, nutritional yeast.

Take Milk Thistle: Milk thistle’s active component silymarin has a slew of research studies indicating its effectiveness in the repair of new liver cells. Silymarin is widely used in Europe for liver disorders and is protective against free radicals (the bad guys that damage your DNA), fatty liver, and alcohol-induced damage. Furthermore, it has anti-inflammatory benefits, and prevents the depletion of glutathione, an antioxidant that is believed to be the most critical part of your detoxification system.

The Form: Make sure to purchase a milk thistle supplement that is free of any additives, toxic preservatives, and one that is not in tablet form. Look for a supplement that does not contain any suspect “other ingredients,” and one that is in a vegetable capsule, such as Silymarin by Pure Encapsulations. No reason to add more fuel to the fire!

the bottom line: By taking B vitamins and milk thistle on a daily basis, you can have your cake and eat it too. While obviously the absence of any toxic substance is better than its presence, the supplementation of these two nutrients will offset damage being done to the body, allowing you to breeze through those weekend libations with ease. Just make sure to keep your regime going because consistency is the key here, since therapeutic nutrients often take time to do their job. These tips aren’t meant to be a cure-all, but they sure will help to keep you healthy and balanced. Finally, if you are going to indulge, choose organic alcohol and drink in moderation. Living your best life is all about finding the right balance.

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