Alcoholism and the needs of the brain
Fundamental deficiencies in nutrients may result in a feeling of anxiety, depression or unease that is alleviated with alcohol. Alcohol, in turn, is often consumed in place of meals and the downward nutritional spiral leads to more deficiencies, more anxiety, shakiness, cravings.
People nowadays are malnourished, even while they are overfed. Our processed food is toxic in many ways and certainly lacking in nutrients. For the alcoholic, malnourishment may have been the trigger for their need for alcohol but continued use of alcohol propels them still further into a state of malnourishment, with its signs and systems that are only alleviated with more alcohol.
Low levels of neurotransmitters, poorly functioning thyroid, hyperinsulinaemia and a low protein intake may all propel a susceptible person towards alcoholism. The ‘feel good’ sensation that drugs or alcohol give us, becomes the substitute for the sense of calm, well- being, that a properly nourished body will supply naturally. More alcohol then depletes these nutrients even more, or takes the place of meals, thus exacerbating an already precarious situation.
The organ damage that follows in the wake of alcohol requires MORE protein and nutrients to repair and this, in turn, results in even less of what is necessary, being absorbed by the body. The massive production of free radicals that organ damage and toxins such as alcohol pour into the system, severely damage the mitochondria, (the tiny cells within our organ cells that are the sole manufacturers of energy (ATP)). This leads to less energy for toxin elimination and cellular repair and so the spiral drags the cells into this never ending pit of damage.
Nutrients most severely affected by alcoholism are:
1. Amino acids (protein). Necessary to heal and make essential hormones and enzymes
2. All the Vitamin B’s
3. Essential Fatty acids. Necessary for the integrity of the nerves and the cell membrane
4. Anti oxidant vitamins such as Vit C and Vit E
5. Magnesium and zinc. Essential co factors in energy production.
6. Selenium (Thyroid)
Alcohol also trashes the natural gut bugs that are essential for our primary immunity, as well as responsible for making Vitamin B available for our body to use.
For example. Magnesium deficiency leads to signs of anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, insomnia and muscle weakness. (Does any of this sound familiar as a trigger to drive one to reach for alcohol to ‘calm’ you)
Vit B6. This vitamin is necessary to convert tryptophan to serotonin (feel good neurotransmitter)
Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) are the precursors for serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body cannot manufacturer. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, which in turn is converted into serotonin.
Low Tyrosine (an amino acid) is also a player in anxiety disorders as well as increased anger.
Some quick and easy guidelines to support your decision to give up alcohol
1. Eat regular, small meals
2. Have protein at EVERY meal
3. Try and stay away from sugar and bread
• Vitamin B (The best B complex available. 2x per day
• Magnesium Glycinate 2 x day
• Probiotic (25 billion cfu’s) 1x day
• Selenium complex (with zinc) 1x day (15mg zinc, 200microgram selenium)
• Omega 3. 4g per day
Optional (Mitochondrial health and nerve damage repair) If affordable
• Alpha Lipoic acid. 2x day
• Co enzymeQ10 200mg per day
• Acetyl L Carnitine 4g per day
Also GABA(500mg) and L-tryptophan to assist neurotransmitter health