EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON NUTRITION
Most people are suffering from alcohol related nutrition disorders but may not believe that they are sick, especially because some of them take alcohol for social reasons, this is worse for those who take it to relieve stress.
Some people are experiencing the effects of alcohol that was taken by their parents, especially the mother, during pregnancy; the damage that occurs in children as a result of heavy drinking during pregnancy is called Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
It occurs most often in children whose mothers are alcoholics or chronic binge drinkers. This is why it is difficult to have a standard diet for different people, in designing a diet one should consider the person’s blood type, weight to height, age, sex, health history and current health status, lifestyle and a lot more, there is also need to consider the person’s history before birth.
This is because a person who was born by parents who were taking alcohol at conception and during pregnancy will already have some damage that would compromise one’s nutritional status.
Nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking and use of other drugs and substances, are some of the key health risk factors that contribute to the greater burden of ill health experienced by most people.
Research studies reveal that, historically doctors have promoted alcohol for its perceived health benefits and most recently for protection against coronary heart disease. There is evidence of cardiovascular benefits from drinking 1 - 2 drinks per day; however, the health benefits from moderate intake of alcohol are controversial.
It is worth noting that this also depends on the type and the percentage of alcohol in that alcoholic beverage. Studies reveal that alcohol should be regarded as a recreational drug with potentially serious adverse effects on health and it is not recommended for cardio-protection in the place of safer and proven traditional methods such as exercise and proper nutrition.
Alcohol consumption and nutrition:
Alcohol at moderate levels has some positive and negative effects on health. The negative effects include increased risk of liver diseases, cancer and pancreatitis. Chronic alcohol misuse and abuse has serious effects on physical and mental health. Heavy drinking is associated with liver disease, such as cirrhosis. The impact of alcohol on aging is negative when excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed.
There is a strong relationship between 'high levels' of alcohol consumption and an increased risk of developing alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease and cancer.
Nutritional disease is any of the nutrient-related condition that causes illness in humans; it may include deficiencies or excesses in the diet, obesity and eating disorders, and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetes mellitus.
Nutritional diseases include developmental abnormalities that can be prevented by diet, hereditary metabolic disorders that respond to dietary treatment, the interaction of foods and nutrients with drugs, food allergies and intolerances, and potential hazards in the food supply.
The long term effects of alcohol range from possible health benefits for low levels of alcohol consumption to severe detrimental effects in cases of chronic alcohol abuse. Research studies reveal that damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from chronic alcohol abuse.
Long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body. The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol, as is the developing brain of the unborn, possibly resulting in the fetal alcohol syndrome.
Alcohol and the unborn baby:
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. The alcohol passes quickly through the placenta into the foetus. In the baby's immature system the alcohol is broken down much more slowly than in the mother's. As a result, the alcohol level can be higher, and remain elevated much longer in the baby.
This can sometimes cause lifelong damage to the child. For the foetus, alcohol interferes with its ability to get enough oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and other body organs. Such children are abnormally small at birth and do not catch up later, no matter how well they are nourished. They have distinctive facial features.
Their organs, especially the heart, may not be formed properly.
Their brains may be small and shaped abnormally. Most will have some degree of mental disability; this may not be easily noticed by the parents.
They will often be afflicted with poor co-ordination, behavioural problems and short attention spans.
The effects of foetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong.
Even as adolescents and adults, those who are not mentally retarded will have varying degrees of psychological and behavioural problems. It is unlikely they will be able to hold down a job or live independently.
Other babies affected by alcohol can also have serious, lifelong disabilities without all the features of FAS. These babies are said to have foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
These disorders are the biggest preventable cause of birth defects and brain damage in unborn children. There is no cure for FASD. The disabilities are permanent. You may be dealing with such children at schools and within your community and not realising the source of the problem.
Signs and symptoms of FAS include:
g Distinctive facial features, including small eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short, upturned nose and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip;
g Deformities of joints, limbs and fingers;
g Slow physical growth before and after birth;
g Vision difficulties or hearing problems;
g Small head circumference and brain size;
g Poor coordination;
g Mental retardation and delayed development;
g Learning disorders;
g Abnormal behaviour, such as a short attention span, hyperactivity, poor impulse control, extreme nervousness and anxiety;
g Heart defects;
Professor Abraham Fainsod of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the Winnipeg Free Press that vitamin A supplementation may mitigate the effects of alcohol on embryos' central nervous systems.
This was discovered by Fainsod and his colleagues who were investigating the effects of retinoic acid, one form of the vitamin, on nerve cell rejuvenation. Retinoic acid can be found in dairy, liver oil and enriched foods, but little else, the National Institutes of Health states.
Getting the recommended daily dose of vitamin A is good for eye, bone and tissue health, it adds.
A good intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, liver and whole milk can help although researchers emphasise that there is no rationale for taking alcoholic drinks while expecting. Imagine the amount of stress and problems you would bring to your family, society and nation.