Alcohol & Your Hormone Health
Updated: Jan 22
During this pandemic one of the biggest challenges a lot of my clients and friends say they’re struggling with is increased alcohol intake. There can be different reasons for it depending on the person including stress and anxiety about what’s happening or boredom.
The trouble with alcohol for us women though is that it can have a significant impact on our hormonal health, and not a nice one.
Alcohol increases inflammation in the body and inflammation causes hormonal havoc - it will impact every hormone in your body to some extent making it harder to find the hormonal balance we all want and need so badly. Inflammation also plays a role in some of the horrible diseases we so want to avoid like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions.
The odd glass of wine has been shown in some research to lower stress and inflammation, BUT, firstly it literally does mean just one small glass and secondly these positive effects seem to apply less to women, any more than an occasional small glass can drive inflammation.
Have you ever had lab tests for your hormones and been told everything is normal despite having all the hormonal symptoms in the book and suspecting low oestrogen or low thyroid? The reason for this could be that inflammation is messing with the communication of your hormones, despite them being at adequate levels, which won’t be seen on the lab tests.
Alcohol, Sleep & Inflammation
Alcohol has a negative impact on our sleep.
“But I usually sleep better after a night on the booze” I hear you say...You might knock out quicker after a few glasses of vino but the quality of that sleep is low.
An alcohol-fuelled sleep will drive inflammation, and the inflammatory symptoms you might be familiar with the morning after a drink or 2 include puffiness (eyes, face, hands, ankles), bags, achiness, low grade headache, bloating, looser stools, and a foggy head. Sounds like you?
Basically while you’re asleep your liver should be getting to work on metabolising and clearing your own hormones, cleaning up any toxic exposures from the day, working with your gut to metabolise food, regulate your immune system, keep inflammation at bay, repair, and restore, but when alcohol is present it gets in the way of all this mega important work.
And you know what else your liver should be doing whilst you’re sleeping instead of processing alcohol? Helping your body to burn body fat!
There is some good news here though!
Guess when the liver’s most optimal time to process alcohol is? Happy Hour (5pm ish)! Having a drink early in the evening will have a lesser impact on your sleep that night and be not AS much of a burden on your liver’s ability to process it BUT stick to 1-2 drinks max nonetheless.
Another way alcohol can mess with your hormones is by depleting your B vitamin resources, for example B1 (thiamine) which is a vital nutrient for a whole host of metabolic reactions including liver detoxification and cortisol (our stress hormone) regulation. Without adequate vitamin B1 you’re likely to experience low energy, exercise intolerance and trouble metabolising carbohydrates (leading to blood sugar dysregulation). The other B vitamins, including B12, are also depleted with alcohol consumption so it’s wise to take a quality B complex supplement or a multivitamin that’s high in all the B vitamins if you consume alcohol. Zinc and vitamin C can also be depleted, which isn't good news for immune health as well as hormonal health.
What’s your relationship with alcohol like at the moment?
If you have any questions at all about any of this, and/or you’d like my help on a personalised level I would love to hear from you! Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to book an informal exploratory call with me to talk it through. Here’s to you vibrant health, hormonal balance & happiness! Lots of love Francesca
PS if you are interested in booking a standalone Health Optimisation Power Hour consultation (via Zoom) hit reply and let me know, and I am also offering my usual more in-depth longer term packages as well. Click here to book an informal exploratory call with me to talk it through.