There are a lot of mixed messages about alcohol. On one hand, we often hear that having a glass of wine or a drink every once in a while, in moderate amounts, can have some health benefits. Despite this, research has also shown that alcohol use and abuse could have some serious implications to our health and gut microbiome.
So, let's take a more in-depth look at what alcohol is and how it affects your health:
Alcohol is a popular "recreational drug" which has a considerable effect on mood and mental state. It is largely composed of ethanol; the substance that makes you intoxicated. Ethanol is produced by yeast when they digest the sugar in certain carbohydrate-rich foods, such as grains (beer) or wine (grapes).
While it is true, that moderate amounts of alcohol consumption have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and that moderate consumption of wine, for example, have been linked to a reduced weight gain; we have to consider the negative outcomes that are linked to alcohol use.
Heavy drinking may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Alcohol has addictive properties, can lead to unintentional weight gain, and exacerbate the symptoms of depression. In a more immediate sense, while on the betr program, especially during level 1, alcohol will likely slow down the healing of the microbiome.
Research has shown how excessive alcohol intake and weight loss don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Alcohol may affect your intestinal microbiota composition and function, creating systemic inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. This alters the speed and rate of absorption of foods and nutrients through the gastrointestinal tract, thus putting it out of balance. Alcohol-induced bacterial overgrowth and imbalance in the gut can lead to the release of endotoxins. Endotoxins then activate proteins and promote inflammation. It is also true that your body will likely put most of its energy towards burning the "empty" calories associated with alcohol rather than the carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats that it needs.
While there may be some research that identifies the positive effects of moderate alcohol intake, we must consider the pros and cons, especially when we are trying to heal the gut.
In the event that you decide to have a drink, reach for a glass of antioxidant-rich organic red wine. These antioxidants are made up of polyphenolic compounds, which have been suggested to provide a protective effect against heart disease and other diseases.
The Betr lifestyle is all about giving your body a chance to rest and heal with nutrient-dense, easy to digest, low inflammation foods. So during your time with us on the program, go ahead and skip the cocktails, beer, and wine...enjoy them once you have reached Betr Health!