If you’re like many busy women, you might choose to relax at the end of a big day with a glass of wine or a few large G & T’s.
The problem is that, as much as we love the taste, relaxing effects, connection with others, and habitual comfort that comes from drinking, our bodies don’t necessarily respond to it so well. In particular, alcohol and our hormones don’t mix positively. This is especially the case as we get older, our hormones fluctuate more wildly, our nutrient levels may not be optimal and our livers aren’t at their best.
Read on for the lowdown on how alcohol might be affecting your hormones and some tips for helping your body to deal with alcohol more effectively when you do imbibe.
The Effects Of Alcohol On Hormones
Mood And Stress
Although you may feel happy and de-stressed after drinking, alcohol actually tends to lower serotonin levels and raise the stress hormone, cortisol. In turn, you may become more anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. Plus, alcohol often lowers testosterone levels. This can reduce your sense of well-being, levels of motivation, and libido.
Alcohol can help you fall asleep initially, but having an evening drink can reduce your deep sleep and wake you up at 3am with low blood sugar and / or dehydration – both of which are stresses on the body, raising cortisol.
As women age, it gets more difficult to budge extra kilos as the metabolism slows down and hormones go haywire. When you drink alcohol, not only are you taking in more ‘empty’ calories than you need, but that drink can lead to poor eating choices and also messes with your blood sugar levels. It reduces your levels of growth hormone and testosterone, which are the fat-burning hormones you need to lose weight.
Our livers are typically working hard to process all the toxins we’re exposed to in our modern world. When you add alcohol into the mix, your liver may have to sacrifice eliminating other toxins or hormones, increasing your toxic load and circulating oestrogen. When this hormone builds up too much, the result can be PMS, heavy periods, headaches, bloating and an increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
Drinking alcohol can negatively impact your bone health. This is because alcohol inhibits osteoblasts (your bone building cells), alters vitamin D, testosterone and cortisol – which all impact bone health.
Unfortunately, if you already have some hormonal imbalances, gut issues, auto-immune disorders, nutrient deficiencies or trouble sleeping, alcohol is likely to make all of the above problems larger.
Tips for making alcohol consumption less impactful
- Never drink on an empty stomach.
- Choose quality alcohol over quantity, and avoid pairing sugary mixers with spirits. Red wine is a better option for most people.
- Drink plenty of water before you consume alcohol, as well as while you’re drinking, and afterwards, too.
- Restrict alcohol consumption to as few days per week as possible, and take longer breaks, such as a “dry” month or more, throughout the year.
- Boost your liver detoxing abilities, especially when it comes to oestrogen, by eating more cruciferous vegetables. This food group includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and chard.
- If you think you may have candida, take steps to get rid of this infection before you continue drinking in your daily life – alcohol will only feed it.
- Take a quality multivitamin that has high levels of active B vitamins, which can be depleted by alcohol.