Diet Shift

Week 1: No More W(h)ining

While I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, I do appreciate having a cocktail when I eat out or have a dram of Scotch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I feel like it. I have been on droughts before: I just went through one when I was pregnant with Jai. It wasn’t a big deal and so by making this my first removal it is a bit like cheating because it’s so easy.

I don’t plan to make this a permanent removal like some of the other foods. Alcohol is actually considered reasonable to consume when on an anti-inflammatory diet provided you consume in moderation and it doesn’t conflict with medication. The praises of the occasional glass of red wine on your health are published almost on the daily.

But we need to call a spade a spade: technically what I am doing is considered a detox or a cleanse.I am removing things that are potentially bad for my health and replacing them with good things. And most cleanses tell you that drinking, while not forbidden, should be discouraged. Giving your body a break from having to process alcohol isn’t a bad thing, especially since I am making such a shift in diet and lifestyle choices, I think it’s the perfect way to get me in the mindset of thinking of body and mental health. Abstaining from alcohol has long been considered a form of self-reflection throughout human history.

The other reason is what alcohol is to the body: it’s delicious, delicious food (sugars and gluten depending on your drink choice) for the microbes in your gut. And if you feed enough of the bad ones, you can create health issues down the road.

One study found that even moderate consumption of alcohol can lead to a condition known as SIBO in some patients:

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a condition where abnormally large numbers of bacteria grow in the small intestine. Normally the small intestine contains a relatively low number of bacteria in contrast to the large intestine, which should contain a larger number of bacteria. In patients with SIBO, the abnormally large numbers of bacteria in the small intestine use for their growth many of the nutrients that would otherwise be absorbed.

As a result, a person with small bowel bacterial overgrowth may not absorb enough nutrients and become malnourished. In addition, the breakdown of nutrients by the bacteria in the small intestines can produce gas as well as lead to a change in bowel habits. — “Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, study finds” (emphasis mine)

Obviously, in studies such as this, you need to examine the sample size and the risks/chances of this being the case for you could be minimal. And if you are willing to accept the risks, then that’s absolutely fine. But to give it up or at least minimize my consumption for a period of time to see how I feel and if I can naturally balance my body out so it is less likely to attack itself, then it is worth a shot.

One form of alcohol that I will continue to consume in some manner will be kombucha, but that’s because it’s beneficial in terms of providing good bacteria for my gut. And the alcohol content is rather small depending on the type of kombucha I consume.

Also, I will be doing a dedicated blog post about gut flora and how I think it is currently the poster child for either being healthy and happy or the source of all your health problems. It may be the diagnosis du jour right now in the medical and science fields, but I do believe that there is something to it.

If making certain changes helps me think  that I am doing better, then who am I to argue with the placebo effect?

I think this will be a relatively slow or mild week for me in regards to dropping alcohol. I’ll be checking in later in the week to update on how I am doing.

1 thought on “Week 1: No More W(h)ining”