Most of us know about the effects of alcohol on the liver in both men and women, but very few of the women have a sense of how alcohol affects other aspects of a woman’s body.
Your physiology means that it takes smaller amounts of alcohol to affect you than it does a man. Also, estrogen enhances alcohol absorption, so your own hormones increase the effects of alcohol on your system.
If you suffer from any estrogen-specific problems, such as fibroids or endometriosis, eliminate alcohol from your lifestyle. Estrogen boosts alcohol absorption, but the alcohol increases the body’s production of estrogen, too, creating a vicious cycle of imbalance.
According to the famous Framingham Study, which has been running for more than 50 years at Boston University, too much alcohol can increase bone loss and fractures, both of which have implications for osteoporosis. If you’re trying for a baby, drinking alcohol can reduce your fertility by half – and, if you do conceive, it can increase the rate of miscarriage.
So, the advice is: If you’re generally healthy, save drinking mainly for the weekends or special occasions and, when you do drink, make one or two glasses of wine or beer your limit. But if you have any known hormonal or other problems, cut out alcohol altogether. If you want to gain the benefits of the heart-boosting resveratrol in grape skins, you don’t’ need to drink red wine – red grape juice does exactly the same job.
Alcohol and Your Liver
Lying on the right hand side of the body, the liver cleans your system of toxins, waste products and excess, and “old” hormones.
But this isn’t all your clever liver does, it also helps optimize the function of your thyroid, secretes bile, and helps manage weight through its ability to break down fat and metabolize carbohydrates form your food. It makes little sense, then, to overindulge in anything that might cause your liver damage.
Alcohol is a “hepatoxin” – a toxin to your liver. The liver produces enzymes to break down alcohol into other substances that your body excretes through your urine and lungs. But some of these substances can be more toxic than the alcohol itself. In addition, free radicals, which are produced naturally as the liver breaks down alcohol, may also damage liver cells.
To boost your liver health, plenty of B-vitamins (found, for example, in sweet potatoes, bananas, and lentils), which help the liver process excess hormones and take milk thistle (Silybum marianum), an herb that helps the liver regenerate. Take a tincture (1 tsp., twice daily) or a supplement (200-400mg, daily).