Alcohol, Calories, Bellies

The alcohol-Eat to Live conundrum. It’s a puzzling one. As Eat to Livers we want to eat and live healthfully, but, how does booze fit into the equation? Does it even? Dr. Fuhrman discusses alcohol in his book Eat to Live. Here’s a snippet:
It is much wiser to avoid the detrimental effects of alcohol completely and protect yourself from heart disease with nutritional excellence. For example, even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to higher rates of breast cancer and to occurrence of atrial fibrillation.1 Avoid alcohol and eat healthfully if possible, but if that one drink a day will make you stay with this plan much more successfully, then have it.
Reasonable advice—works for me. I don’t drink a lot, but I do drink. When you’re young and single, not drinking can become a social handicap. Now, the reason why I don’t drink very often is because I’m firmly aware of the adverse health effects. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Dietary Factors That Induce Calcium Loss in the Urine2
animal protein
refined sugar
aluminum-containing antacids
drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, thyroid hormone
vitamin A supplements
15 Common Migraine Triggers
dairy and cheese
salted or pickled foods
fermented foods
smoked meats
monosodium glutamate
nuts food
hydrolyzed protein
baked goods
For most people, the worst side effect of booze is consuming all those excess calories and in Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains, they go right to your gut. Check it out:
Moderate drinking has been associated with a lower incidence of coronary heart disease in more than forty prospective studies. This only applies to moderate drinking—defined as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less for men. More than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.3 Alcohol consumption also leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger. One glass of wine per day is likely insignificant, but I advise against higher levels of alcohol consumption.
Now, it’s always cool when Dr. Fuhrman’s points get echoed somewhere else. Like this report for example. Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times investigates the claim, Calories From Alcohol Go to Your Midsection. Take a look:
In general, drinking causes weight gain primarily because alcohol slows the body’s ability to burn fat for energy, not to mention that it increases appetite. The effects of alcohol on the midsection are complicated, but studies show pretty clearly that beer, wine and spirits have a greater effect on belly fat in adults who drink sporadically than in people who drink regularly but in small amounts.

In one study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2003, a group of scientists followed more than 2,300 drinkers and nondrinkers and found — after controlling for a number of variables — that those who averaged a single drink per day had the lowest levels of abdominal fat. Those who drank occasionally but had four or more drinks in one sitting had the greatest levels. Several studies have shown similar results.
The investigation concludes that excessive drinking is the likely to cause unsightly belly fat. So, with all this being said, next time your out with friends and one of them offers to buy you a drink, at least you’ve got the facts. Personally, I’ll take a gin martini on the rocks!
1. Wright, R. M., J. L. McManaman, and J. E. Rapine. 1999. Alcoholinduced breast cancer: a proposed mechanism. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 26 (3–4): 348–54; Dorgan, J. F., D. J. Baer, P. S. Albert, et al. 2001. Serum hormones and the alcohol- breast cancer association in postmenopausal women. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 93 (9): 710–16; Jancin, B. 2002. Just a few drinks raise risk of atrial fibrillation. Family Physician News, January 11: 4.

2. Feskanich, D., W. C. Willett, M. J. Stampfler, and G. A. Colditz. 1996. Protein consumption and bone fractures in women. Am. J. Epidemiol. 143 (5): 472–79; Itoh, R., and Y. Suyama. 1996. Sodium excretion in relation to calcium and hydroxyproline excretion in a healthy Japanese population. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 63 (5): 735–40; Massey, L. K., and S. J. Whiting. 1993. Caffeine, urinary calcium, calcium metabolism and bone. J. Nutr. 123 (9): 1611–14; Harris, S. S., and B. Dawson-Hughes. 1994. Caffeine and bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 60 (4): 573–78; Nguyen, N. U., G. Dumoulin, J. P. Wolf, and S. Berthelay. 1989. Urinary calcium and oxalate excretion during oral fructose or glucose load in man. Horm. Metab. Res. 21 (2): 96–99; Bunker, V. W. 1994. The role of nutrition in osteoporosis. Br. J. Biomed. Sci. 51 (3): 228–40; Sampson, H. W. 1997. Alcohol, osteoporosis, and bone regulating hormones. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 21 (3): 400–03; Villiger, P. M., and R. Krapf. 1996. Osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. Schweiz. Rundsch. Med. Prax. 85 (43): 1354–59; Spencer, H., and L. Kramer. 1985. Osteoporosis: calcium, fluoride, and aluminum interactions. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 4 (1): 121–28; Wolinsky-Friedland, M. 1995. Drug-induced metabolic bone disease. Endocrinol. Metab. Clin. North Am. 24 (2): 395–420; Melhus, H., K. Michaelson, A. Kindmark, et al. 1998. Excessive dietary intake of vitamin A is associated with reduced bone mineral density and increased risk of hip fracture. Ann. Intern. Med. 129 (10): 770–78.

3. Dallongeville, J., N. Marecaux, P. Ducmetiere, et al. 1998. Influence of alcohol consumption and various beverages on waist girth and waistto- hip ratio in a sample of French men and women. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 22 (12): 1178–83.
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LLouise - December 26, 2007 3:38 PM

Happy Holidays, Gerr!

So are Doc F.'s comments only regarding vino? I would think liquors would be totally out??
I would think the mixed drinks would be worse, but I never quite knew if "drinking" only referred to wine. I know the grapes in wine is what gives the benefits (why not just eat grapes?!); but most people like to think one drink a day as any ol' booze they want. Any word from the Doc about liqueurs and the limitations of them?

LLouise - December 26, 2007 5:00 PM

So, he would say one mixed drink a day is okay (as he stated if it helps keep one on plan)??!

I don't drink. I never got into it, I guess, lol. I've tasted things and, really, just don't think any of it tastes good! I think the only thing that tasted good was a drink with the green melon liqueur...what's it called? Midori? I guess because it was super sweet!
Beer is awful tasting! Only time it tasted half decent was when I took a sip of it with lime and salt -- Ack!
Don't like wine either; I used most alcohol I have in my cooking. :)

Matthew R. Scott - December 27, 2007 6:48 PM

I've acquired a taste for beer myself, as has my wife. I find it interesting, though, that the more and more I follow the whole-foods, plant-based diet, the less I feel like I can consume.

I also attribute my kicking of the nicotine habit to this lifestyle (less than a month away from 365 days!).

We still buy beer, but we open them at most once a day, sharing one bottle, with neither of us really desiring more than a few swigs -- so about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottle goes down the drain! I can see us gradually slowing to only a few (or zero) occasions a year, really.

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