alcohol and nutrition EssayNutrition is a course that has two purposes: to provide energy and to maintain body structure and function. Food supplies energy and provides the building blocks needed to replace worn or damaged cells and the nutritional components needed for body function. Alcoholics often eat poorly, limiting their supply of essential nutrients and affecting both energy supply and structure maintenance.
Once ingested, food must be digested so it is available for energy and maintenance of body structure and function. Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable molecules by decreasing secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Alcohol impairs nutrient absorption by damaging the cells lining the stomach and intestines and disabling transport of some nutrients into the blood. In addition, nutritional deficiencies themselves may lead to further absorption problems. For example, foliate deficiency alters the cells lining the small intestine, which in turn impairs absorption of water and nutrients including glucose, sodium, and additional foliate. Even if nutrients are digested and absorbed, alcohol can prevent them from being fully utilized by altering their transport, storage, and excretion.Order now
Decreased liver stores of vitamins such as vitamin A and increased excretion of nutrients such as fat, indicate impaired utilization of nutrients by alcoholics. The three basic nutritional components found in food–carbohydrates, proteins, and fats–are used as energy after being converted to simpler products. Some alcoholics ingest as much as 50 percent of their total daily calories from alcohol, often neglecting important foods. Even when food intake is adequate, alcohol can damage the mechanisms by which the body controls blood glucose levels, resulting in either increased or decreased blood glucose (glucose is the body’s principal sugar. As a result, alcohol causes the brain and other body tissue to be deprived of glucose needed for energy and function.
Although alcohol is an energy source, how the body processes and uses the energy from alcohol is more complex than can be explained by a simple calorie conversion value. For example, alcohol provides an average of 20 percent of the calories in the diet of the upper third of drinking Americans, and we might expect many drinkers who consume such amounts to be obese. Instead, national data indicate that, despite higher caloric intake, drinkers are no more obese than nondrinkers. Also, when alcohol is substituted for carbohydrates, calorie for calorie, subjects tend to lose weight, indicating that they derive less energy from alcohol than from food Nutrients are essential for proper body function; proteins, vitamins, and minerals provide the tools that the body needs to perform properly.
Alcohol can disrupt body function by causing nutrient deficiencies and by usurping the machinery needed to metabolize nutrients. Vitamins are essential to maintaining growth and normal metabolism because they regulate many physiological processes. Chronic heavy drinking is associated with deficiencies in many vitamins because of decreased food ingestion and, in some cases, impaired absorption, metabolism, and utilization. For example, alcohol inhibits fat absorption and thereby impairs absorption of the vitamins A, E, and D that are normally absorbed along with dietary fats. Vitamin A deficiency can be associated with night blindness, and vitamin D deficiency is associated with softening of the bones. Deficiencies of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc are common in alcoholics, although alcohol itself does not seem to affect the absorption of these minerals.
Deficiencies seem to happen secondary to other alcohol-related problems, decreased calcium absorption due to fat absorption; magnesium deficiency due to decreased intake, increased urinary excretion, vomiting, and diarrhea iron deficiency related to gastrointestinal bleeding; and zinc absorption or losses related to other nutrient deficiencies. Mineral deficiencies can cause a variety of medical consequences from calcium-related bone disease to zinc-related night blindness and skin lesions. .