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Accept a healthy challenge and eliminate alcohol for 21 days

Does alcohol really affect my health and fitness goals?

The short answer, yes! But knowing why might help you make better decisions when faced with the temptation.

First, it should be understood that alcohol has no nutritional advantages. It does not have vitamins or minerals that your body can utilize to help with your health and wellness goals. In fact, we could argue that the side-effects of consuming alcohol also have negative consequences. Not only does it have zero value, it has the ability to cause you to lose your inhibitions and make poor decisions, like eating processed foods.

Alcohol has a negative affect internally as well. It is proven that alcohol directly affects your intestines as well as your brain. It promotes the overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria, which ultimately leads to inflammation and leaky gut. And it inhibits your body’s cellular response to combat unhealthy bacteria overgrowth. So it’s a double whammy; it makes you produce the stuff you can’t fight off.

Another negative about alcohol is the addictive nature it possesses. As with food, alcohol affects the brain and hormones. Hormones send signals to the brain that help you make your decisions. The more you have of something the more you will need it and/or have withdrawal symptoms when you decrease intake. In the case of non-nutritional foods/drinks, alcohol and sugar are on the top of that list.

Possibly the most interesting part about these facts about alcohol, is that they last into the next day. So when you say you will just have one night of drinking it actually affects your decisions for the next day. And if you have a “guy’s” or “girl’s” weekend, you’re really having a mini-drinking-vacation, the effects of which can last into the following week.

Why does this happen? Blood sugar and hormones.

When drinking alcohol, blood sugar levels plummet far too low for far too long. Even in the most healthy individuals, alcohol will pull too much blood sugar from the bloodstream, impairing the hormone balance and function, especially when combined with sugary substances like Pepsi, fruit juice, syrup etc,. Just a few drinks can greatly affect your blood sugar, and it takes days – even longer if you don’t have proper nutrition – to restore your blood sugar to an appropriate level.

This vicious cycle is what you are fighting each time you decide to have something your body can not process or respond to effectively. Alcohol prevents your hormones from responding correctly and consistently in a way that benefits your health. It can contribute to bloating, dehydration, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin disorders, memory issues, brain fog, weight gain, inability to burn fat, intestinal disorders and serious fatigue.

Dallas and Melissa Hartiwig say it best in their book, “It Starts with Food.”

“Understand, that the less (and less often) you indulge in (less-healthy foods), the healthier you will be. Where you draw that line is totally up to you,” they write.

You can certainly treat yourself every once in a while. But in order for you to be able to make those clear decisions for your health you’ve got to rewire your brain, retrain your hormones and heal your gut. One of the ways to do that is to pay attention to your alcohol consumption and the ways it can be a detriment to your health.

I simply believe that when people know the “why” behind what certain foods are doing to their body they can more easily move forward with their health goals, and be better prepared to become a healthier version of themselves. I hope this happens for you. Perhaps you’ve found a reason to cut down or cut out alcohol all together-in order to reach those goals you’ve set so many times. Now you know what to do, and why it’s important to do so. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. If you want to lose weight, feel better and impress the doc next visit, try eliminating alcohol (and sugar) for the next 21 days. You won’t regret it.

Fit It In runs the fourth Sunday of the month. Danielle Tetreault is a personal trainer and the owner of Fit It In Fitness and is always available for a free fitness assessment. She can be reached at fititinpt@hotmail.com, or visit her website at www.fititintraining.com.