By Le’Nise Brothers
January is the month when we recover from the Christmas party season, traditionally a time when many of us regularly indulged in a tipple or two. We may think about our drinking this month, perhaps curb it in an effort to make up for the indulging, but alcohol has a detrimental effect on our hormones regardless of the time of year. So why don’t alcohol and hormones mix, and what can you do about it?
Alcohol and your lovely liver
We all know that alcohol is a toxin. Yes, I said it! It tastes great and can loosen you up, but your body has to work hard to clear this toxin from your body. And guess what organ does most of the work? Your liver!
Your liver is an incredible organ. It has over 200 functions, including cholesterol production and fat and protein metabolism. For women, the liver is where we metabolise or break down hormones like oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone and remove the excess from our bodies.
Because the liver does so much for us, when we drink alcohol we put an extra burden on our livers. Alcohol is very toxic and cannot be stored by the body, so the liver prioritises clearing it from your body above its many other functions.
Alcohol and your hormones
The thing is, if you have PMS, heavy and painful periods, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or are perimenopausal or menopausal, alcohol can throw a spanner in the works, affecting your hormones and throwing them out of balance.
When you drink a lot, your liver’s number one priority is removing alcohol in the form of ethanol from your body. And while it’s doing that, it can’t do things like get rid of excess oestrogen that might be causing PMS or perimenopausal symptoms.
More bad news: all of this means that your oestrogen levels are raised and your body’s capacity to burn fat slows down.
So what does this mean for you? If you’re having hormonal issues, it’s time to think about how much alcohol you drink. If you’re worried about losing weight, then it’s also time to think about how much alcohol you drink.
The British government recommend a maximum of 14 units of alcohol each week for men and women, which is the equivalent of six pints or six small glasses of wine. Not in one session, mind!
Why not try mindful drinking: being aware of what you’re drinking and why you’re drinking it.
If you automatically pour a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day, think about why you think the wine will help you relax. Could you do something else instead? A bit of yoga, a couple of boxing jabs to a pillow, a hot bath?
When you’re out, instead of allowing people to buy you endless rounds of drinks at the pub or bar, be aware of how much you’re drinking and how you’re feeling. If you don’t want another drink, just say so, instead of feeling pressured to ‘be polite’. Or ask for some water instead.
Mindful drinking means learning to drink what YOU want to drink and the amount that YOU want to drink rather than what you consider to be socially acceptable.
To find out more about Le’Nise, please visit her at eatlovemove.com