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The Complete Guide to Healthy Drinking

healthy drinking guide

Millions of people worldwide enjoy drinking alcohol. Most do so in moderation, with infrequent overindulgence. Some are chronic heavy drinkers, despite indisputable evidence that drinking to excess on a regular basis is unhealthy and can be life threatening.

This article is intended for individuals who drink frequently but want to take measures to preserve their health while doing so. It outlines the various adverse health consequences that heavy drinking can have, and the measures that can be taken to reduce these adverse effects.

How Much is "Too Much"?

The age-old question is “How much drinking is too much drinking?” While most people would agree that 20 drinks a day would be foolish, there isn’t a specific answer that would be relevant to everyone. Everyone’s body and personality is different. Some people can drink more than others. Also, the term “too much” is subjective.

Because “too much” may be considered subjective, and everyone’s body reacts differently, I am not going to try and answer this question. Instead, I will cite objective levels of alcohol intake cited in scientific studies that measured organ damage caused by alcohol.

Moderate or "Low Risk" Drinking - The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as:

  • For Men: No more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. [1]
  • For Women: No more than 3 drinks on any single day AND no more than 7 drinks per week. [1]

By this definition, very few young people who drink on a weekly basis are moderate drinkers. It isn’t unheard of for college students and young professionals to have well over 4 drinks in a single night, for example.

Chances are if you’re reading this article, you are considered, by the official definition at least, a “moderate drinker”, and possibly would even be considered a “heavy drinker” by official definitions. This is ok, just don’t kid yourself into believing that regular drinking doesn’t adversely impact your health. For the rest of this post, I am going to explain how alcohol adversely affects different areas of your body, and how you can minimize the damage it causes.

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How Alcohol Damages the Liver and What You Can Do About It

Excessive alcohol consumption is more likely to damage your liver than any other part of your body. The following statistics come straight from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (the people who defined us all as heavy drinkers)

  • Chronic alcoholism is the cause of over 50% of all end-stage liver disease deaths.[2]
  • Over 90% of heavy drinkers will suffer from fatty liver. [2]
  • Between 10-30% of heavy drinkers will suffer from liver inflammation. [2]
  • Between 8-20% of heavy drinkers will suffer from liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is deadly. Only 23% of those who suffer from liver cirrhosis will survive for more than 5 years. The damage caused by liver cirrhosis is irreversible and the only way to survive the disease is to receive a liver transplant. [2]

Why is the Liver So Sensitive to Alcohol?

Think of your liver as the purification tank for your body. Blood circulates through your body and repeatedly enters your liver for purification. Virtually everything you ingest will interact with your liver, including alcohol.

Once consumed, alcohol instantly enters your stomach, then your intestines and is absorbed into your blood. Blood then quickly circulates to your liver for purification. In our liver an enzyme called “Alcohol Dehydrogenase” (ADH) breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde (a substance up to 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself). At this point, another enzyme called “Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase” (ALDH) breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid. Finally, the acetate is broken down into carbon dioxide and water at which point it is expelled from your body.

Liver and Alcohol Metabolism: 3 Key Facts

1. It takes the average individual’s liver approximately one hour to metabolize a single drink of alcohol. (12oz 4.3% beer or 1.5oz 35% liquor). It doesn’t matter if you have 3 shots or 10 shots in one hour, your liver metabolizes the alcohol at the same speed. Alcohol that can’t be immediately metabolized continues to circulate through your body raising your blood alcohol content (BAC) and making you intoxicated.

2. Other liver functions are suspended while alcohol is being metabolized. Alcohol is identified by your body as a toxic substance (After all, too much in too little time will kill you). Your liver makes metabolizing alcohol its top priority. While other normal liver functions are paused to focus on alcohol, over time the liver accumulates fat and is damaged. Initially this may lead to Liver Steatosis (Fatty Liver) but in time can eventually lead to Liver Inflammation and Liver Cirrhosis.

3. As alcohol is metabolized in the liver, free radicals and acetaldehyde are created. Free radicals are atoms, ions, or molecules with an unpaired valence electron. These unpaired electrons are highly reactive towards other substances (including other free radicals). An over-abundance of free radicals can damage liver cells and promote fat production.

Acetaldehyde is a toxic substance created when alcohol is metabolized in your liver. It causes functional impairment of key proteins and enzymes in the liver (enzymes and proteins needed for normal liver function) and damages DNA.

Chronic Heavy Drinking Damages Your Liver in 3 Ways

1. Fatty Liver (Liver Steatosis): The first and most common ailment experienced by heavy drinkers is Fatty Liver. Between 90-100% of heavy drinkers suffer from a fatty liver at some point in their lives. [1] Simply put, if you are a chronic heavy drinker, fat will eventually accumulate in your liver. Symptoms associated with fatty liver include:

  • Chronic feelings of fatigue and weakness, even after a good night’s sleep.
  • Nausea and loss of appetite.
  • Abdominal pain.

Fatty liver damage is reversible and treatable. But if someone who suffers from fatty liver does not seek medical attention and continues to abuse alcohol, larger, more serious problems such as Hepatitis and Cirrhosis can develop.

2. Liver Inflammation (Hepatits): If Fatty Liver goes untreated for too long, the next stage of liver disease is usually Liver Inflammation. This occurs in 10-35% of heavy drinkers. [1] Symptoms of Liver Inflammation may include:

  • Aching of the muscles and joints
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Abnormal Bowel Movements/Diarrhea
  • Headaches

Interestingly, a large number of patients whom suffer from chronic Liver Inflammation experience no symptoms at all. A blood test measuring liver enzymes is reliable way to diagnose Liver Inflammation. If Liver Inflammation goes undiagnosed it may lead to a much more serious and deadly disease called Liver Cirrhosis.

3. Liver Cirrhosis: Liver Cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced with damaged tissue, fibrosis, and scar tissue. Approximately 8-20% of heavy drinkers suffer from this disease. Symptoms include:

  • Severe feelings of weakness and fatigue, despite being well rested.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexpected and sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and bruising.

How deadly is Liver Cirrhosis? The 5 year survival rate is a dismal 23%. [1] There is no cure or treatment for the disease short of a liver transplant.

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How to Protect Your Liver from Alcohol

Protecting your liver from alcohol-induced damage should be your top priority if you’re a regular drinker! I will explain two steps you can take to reduce the damage done to your liver by the over indulgence of alcohol.

Method 1: Speed up the rate your liver metabolizes alcohol and acetaldehyde

If you have read and understand how alcohol affects your liver this should make sense. The faster your liver metabolizes alcohol, the sooner it can resume its normal functions. Less fat accumulates in your liver and less tissue damage occurs.

How can I speed up the metabolism of alcohol in my liver?

Fortunately, there are many all-natural supplements readily available which speed up your liver’s metabolism of alcohol:

Dihydromyricetin (DHM) Dihydromyricetin may be the best supplement available for enhanced alcohol metabolism. Traditionally, it has been used as a hangover cure in Chinese medicine. Recently it has been gaining popularity in the west, and research has demonstrated it to be the “antidote to alcohol”.

An excerpt taken from the following research article stated:

“Ratten tea, made from the leaves of Ampelopsis grossedentata, may potentially perform multiple pharmacological roles, including anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and anti-hypertension function. These benficial functions of Ratten tea are strongly associated with the bioactivity of ampeloption (a term used in the scientific community for dihydromyricetin).” [3]

For our discussion, the most important word in that excerpt is “hepatoprotective”. Simply put, it means DHM protects the liver from damage, which is especially important for heavy drinkers.

Exactly how is DHM hepaprotective?

Dihydromyricetin’s primary mechanism for protecting the liver lies in its ability to promote the activity of both the Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) and Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase (ADLH) enzymes. [4], When you take DHM, your liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol goes into “overdrive”. Not only does it break down alcohol into acetaldehyde at a faster rate, but it also breaks down the acetaldehyde into harmless acetic acid more quickly. This allows your liver to resume its normal metabolic functions. There is less fat build-up, and less tissue (proteins, enzymes, and DNA) damage.

Does Dihydromyricetin Actually Make a Difference?

For obvious reasons, scientists aren’t going to allow people to drink themselves to the point of liver damage to test the benefits of DHM. Mice, on the other hand, make perfect test subjects. One reason mice are commonly used in research is their genetic, biological, and behavioral characteristics resemble those of humans in many ways. The way alcohol effects them is no exception.

In one study, mice were given large doses of alcohol for a total of 6 weeks in order to induce liver damage. Half the mice were given DHM at the same time as the alcohol and the other half were not. After 6 weeks, the researchers used five different indices to measure the mice’s liver damage and noted a statistically significant difference favoring DHM. [5]

Keep in mind, scientists proved a statistically significant difference after only six weeks! Dihydromyricetin could potentially have over a life-time of heavy drinking.

Method 2: Reduce and Neutralize Excess Free Radicals

Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals formed as a by-product of alcohol metabolism. Free radicals readily react with liver tissue, causing damage and promoting fat formation. By taking supplements which help neutralize free radicals (antioxidants), you can reduce the damage they cause your liver.

Glutathione: a potent antioxidant which is produced naturally by the liver and plays a key role in liver detoxification reactions, and is necessary for the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetic acid. [23] Not only does heavy drinking cause a depletion in levels of glutathione [24], but studies have shown that patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver have insufficient levels. [25]

Thiamine (Vitamin B1): an essential nutrient which is depleted by heavy drinking. (More on that later) It isn’t significantly hepaprotective on its own, but studies have shown that when combined with N-Acetyl-Cysteine it becomes very effective at preventing damage caused by acetaldehyde toxicity. [28]

Vitamin C: also an essential nutrient for humans. It is also known to have anti-oxidation activity. If you are a heavy drinker, taking a vitamin C supplement every day may help reduce the damage alcohol is causing your liver.

Final Comments on Alcohol and the Liver

Knowing that 8-20% of chronic heavy drinkers suffer from liver Cirrhosis is frightening. The only cure is a new liver, and suffering from a self-inflicted disease would most likely make you ineligible for a transplant. Taking Glutathione, Thiamine, and Dihydromyricetin can help protect your liver.

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How Alcohol Damages the Brain and How to Stop It

We have all heard the news, “Alcohol destroys brain cells!” This may seem like common sense, but it is completely false, and there is much evidence to the contrary. In research conducted in 1993, by Grethe Jenson and Co. the number of brain cells in both heavy drinkers and non-drinkers were compared. Interestingly, there was no significant difference in the number of brain cells between the two.

Alcohol damages brain cell dendrites

Don’t believe for a second that just because alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells it isn’t bad for your brain. Alcohol may not completely destroy brain cells, but it does damage parts of them. Brain cells have extensions called dendrites, which allow electrochemical signals to be transmitted between brain cells. Research has shown the density of dendrites in heavy drinkers is much lower compared to non-drinkers. [7] This damage does impair cognitive function. However, this damage is also reversible and if one abstains from alcohol, this damage can eventually be repaired.

Alcohol slows neurogenesis

There used to be a widespread belief that the brain was incapable of producing new brain cells (neurons), that we start with a finite number at birth, and had better do everything possible to keep them. This is another myth which has been debunked. In 1980, Rita Levi-Montalcini received the Nobel Prize for proving this false. Everyone’s brain is constantly producing new brain cells (neurons), through a process called neurogenesis.

Alcohol consumption can be detrimental to this process. Research has shown the consumption of more than 4 drinks a day can stunt the production of brain cells by almost 40%. [8]

This may raise the question, “In the study conducted to count brain cells in heavy drinkers compared to non-drinkers, why weren’t less brain cells found in heavy drinkers if alcohol stunts neuron growth?” When Grethe Jenson decided to count brain cells, they deliberately selected an area of the brain where new brain cells are not created. Drinking will slow neurogenesis, but there are steps you can take to speed up neuron production.

You brain and body can become highly addicted to alcohol.

Below are some statistics every heavy drinker should seriously consider:

  • Data taken from the National Institute of Health reports 15% of Americans are considered “problem drinkers”. And of the “problem drinkers”, 5%-10% are considered alcoholics (physically addicted). [9]
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse states alcohol is either the primary reason or a contributing factor in over 40% of rehab admissions. [10]
  • Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include insomnia and sweating, but withdrawal symptoms from severe alcohol addiction may include hallucinations, seizures, and even death. [11]

Alcohol works by affecting the levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that brain cells use to control emotion, behavior, and thought processes. Alcohol amplifies the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and dampens the effects of the excitatory neurotransmitter Glutamate.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters have a calming effect while excitatory ones have a stimulating effect. As effects of inhibitory neurotransmitters are amplified and excitatory ones diminish, you feel relaxed, your heart rate slows, motor control declines, and speech may even slur.

When someone drinks heavily on a consistent basis, their brain “gets used to the alcohol”. In other words, your brain develops a homeostasis at a sedated level. When their brain is then deprived of alcohol, the balance is upset, and the person enters a state of arousal. This is why insomnia and anxiety are the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

What does this mean for long-term health?

Studies have shown that chronic alcohol abuse can lead to decreases in cognitive function and increases the risk of developing dementia. Symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, though there is no link between heavy alcohol consumption and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease per se. In extreme cases, heavy drinkers can develop a form of brain damage termed Wenicke-Korsakoff syndrome. [12]

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by a combination of brain damage and vitamin B1 deficiency. [13] People who suffer from this syndrome have debilitating memory loss. Short term memory is almost completely absent. They can remember events that occurred before they developed the syndrome, but new information is often forgotten within mere seconds.

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How to Minimize Alcohol-Related Brain Damage

There are supplements you can take that have the opposite affect on your brain as alcohol. Drugs known as nootropics are drugs and supplements that have been shown to improve the brain's health or increase cognitive performance. Many of them can help offset the effect alcohol has on your brain, the following are some examples:

Take Supplements that Protect Dendrites

Ashwagandha – With a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandga is a plant which has been shown to improve communication between brain cells and overall cognitive function.

The Institute of Medicine at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University of Japan spent five years conducting research on the benefits of Ashwagandha. One study concluded that Ashwagandha supported significant regeneration of the axons and dendrites of nerve cells. It also supported significant reconstruction of synapses.

A second and third study performed by the same institute again found that Ashwagandha helped support the growth of nerve cell dendrites. [13]

Take Supplements that Stimulate Neurogenesis

Lion’s Mane Mushroom – This is a completely natural, edible mushroom with a wide history of use in Ancient Chinese Medicine. Research has found that Lion’s Mane extract enhances neurogenesis by increasing levels of two proteins; Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and the Brain-Derived Nerve Growth Factor (BDNF). [14][15] There has never been a recorded overdose and the only side effect experienced is mild fatigue.

Take Vitamin B1 Daily

Nearly 80% of alcoholics have a vitamin B1 deficiency. [16] A deficiency in Vitamin B1 is the root cause of Wenicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Even if you can’t completely prevent the damage alcohol is causing your brain, taking B1 supplements can reduce your chances of developing this terrible condition.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is essential for helping your body convert carbohydrates into energy for your heart, muscles, and nervous system.

Take a Supplement to Make Alcohol Less Addictive

To reduce alcohol’s addictive properties you would need to take a supplement which lessens the effect alcohol has on either the GABA or Glutamate neurotransmitters.

For example, let us pretend you took a supplement which reduced alcohol’s amplification of your GABA receptors every time you drank. This would cause you to experience a lower level of sedation, with the consumption of alcohol. Your homeostasis while drinking would be closer to its default (sober) homeostasis and withdrawal symptoms would be less severe. Are there any supplements which can do this?

Dihydromyricetin (DHM): You’ve already read about Dihydromyricetin's ability to protect the liver from alcohol. It also affects the brain in a very novel way. DHM binds to GABA receptors in the brain and dampens the affect alcohol has on them. This allows DHM to counteract alcohol dependence, withdrawal symptoms (anxiety and seizure susceptibility), and physical feelings of intoxication.[17]

Don’t take DHM before drinking if you want to become intoxicated. Instead, take it after you are through drinking and want to sober up. This will allow you to have an enjoyable time, “sober up” more quickly, and prevent or reduce symptoms of a hangover.

Many people take all the supplements outlined above, but you may want to only take one, two, or perhaps none at all. It is completely up to you. If I were to recommend only one supplement it would be Vitamin B1. Almost 80% of heavy drinkers are B1 deficient and this vitamin is crucial for your entire well-being, not just your brain. It is cheap, completely safe, and easy to take.

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How Alcohol Damages the Heart and How to Stop It

Alcohol affects the heart in a very interesting way. Depending on the amount you consume, alcohol can either improve your heart’s health, or completely destroy it over the long run. Research supports the idea that moderate drinking, NOT heavy drinking, can lower a person’s risk for heart disease. [18]

The study observed 27,178 men and 29,875 women whom did not have coronary heart disease. Their alcohol intake was monitored over the course of 5.7 years and their risk of developing atherosclerotic coronary artery disease was matched to levels of alcohol intake as follows:

  • One drink a week lowered the risk of coronary artery disease by 7%
  • Two-Four drinks a week lowered the risk by 22%
  • Five-Six drinks a week lowered the risk by 29%

Keep in mind, this means a maximum of six drinks per week. Five to six drinks a week is considered “moderate” drinking.

It’s also important to consider the many other variables which affect your heart’s health. Genes, age, medications, diet, smoking status, and exercise all affect your heart’s health. Your doctor is the only person who can help you determine if “moderate” alcohol intake will benefit your heart.

Heavy Drinking and the Heart

If you are reading this, chances are your drinking exceeds moderation with some degree of frequency. But what exactly does heavy alcohol consumption mean for our hearts? The outlook is not good. Drinking heavily on a regular basis may:

  • Lead to high blood pressure
  • Weaken the heart
  • Contribute to higher levels of fats called triglycerides, which increase the risk of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease

The most common heart ailment alcoholics suffer is called cardiomyopathy. This condition is characterized by an enlarged heart along with the thinning of heart muscle. This causes the heart to pump blood inefficiently and can eventually lead to heart failure. Heart failure may cause excess fluid to build up in many parts of the body such as the ankles, lungs, and abdomen.

Generally, years of alcohol abuse precedes the development of cardiomyopathy. One study states:

“In general, alcoholic patients consuming >90g of alcohol a day (approximately seven-eight standard drinks per day) for >5 years are at risk for development of asymptomatic ACM (alcoholic cardiomyopathy). Those who continue to drink may become symptomatic and develop signs and symptoms of heart failure”. [19]

Symptoms generally don’t occur until the later stages of a cardiomyopathy. This happens because symptoms are the result of heart failure and may include the following:

  • Swelling in the ankles, legs, or feet
  • Difficulty breathing while lying down
  • Waking up throughout the night due to shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations – Characterized by being able to feel your heart beat

In mild cases, cessation of drinking may halt the disease process and improve heart function. However, severe damage caused by cardiomyopathy is usually irreversible and life expectancy poor.

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How to Lower Risk for Cardiomyopathy

Heavy consumption of alcohol leads to high blood pressure, elevated levels of triglycerides, and a weakened heart. In order to lower your risk for cardiomyopathy you need to take steps which lower your blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and strengthen your heart.

Lowering blood pressure:

This is something you should discuss with your physician. Make sure you are schedule regular appointments and monitor your blood pressure. Proper diet and regular exercise are usually helpful. There are many prescription medications you can to control your blood pressure, but you should never do so unless under the direction of your physician.

As far as supplements go, Fish Oil is a good choice. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil reportedly can reduce blood pressure to a degree in some people. [20]

Lowering levels of triglycerides:

Web MD ranks Fish Oil as “Effective” for lowering levels of triglycerides. Research has shown Fish Oil can reduce levels of triglycerides by 20%-50%. [20] The FDA has even approved a specific type of fish oil supplement called “Lovaza” with an indication of lowering triglyceride levels.

Strengthening your heart:

There is no magic bullet when it comes to strengthening your heart. Exercise and proper diet are the two most important things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Genetics also play a big role. I cannot recommend a supplement specifically for strengthening the heart because I am not aware that one exists.

If keeping your heart strong is important to you, I recommend you read the following articles:

Final Comments on Alcohol and the Heart

From my research it would seem alcohol has a much more negative effect on the liver and brain than the heart. (KEEP IN MIND I AM NOT A SCIENTIST OR DOCTOR) If you want to focus on the one organ alcohol damages the most, I would choose the liver, but if you want to focus on all of them, don’t ignore the heart. By far the two best steps you can take to protect your heart is proper diet and exercise. Fish Oil may be helpful, but won’t come even close to replacing a healthy lifestyle.

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Top Five Nutrient Deficiencies Caused by Heavy Drinking

Excessive indulgence of alcohol on a regular basis can interfere with the intake, absorption, storage, and metabolism of many different nutrients. Research has shown chronic alcoholics are frequently deficient in one or more of the following nutrients: Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Thiamine, and Calcium. [21]

Folate: is also known as Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid. It is essential for many bodily functions including DNA synthesis and repair, cell division, and cell growth. Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb Folate and transport it to necessary tissues. Symptoms associated with Folate deficiency include:

  • Fatigue despite having adequate rest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Being quick to anger
  • Loss of appetite

Vitamin A: plays a vital role in growth and development, maintenance of the immune system, and vision. Alcohol interferes with the absorption, storage, and metabolism of Vitamin A. Symptoms associated with Vitamin A deficiency includes:

  • Itching, burning, and inflammation in the eyelids (early symptoms).
  • Changes in vision and night blindness (late symptoms)

Calcium: Alcohol causes excess amounts of calcium to be lost through urinary excretion and may lead to low levels of calcium in heavy drinkers. Calcium plays an important role in bone health, blood vessel/muscle contraction and expansion, and transmission of electrochemical messages throughout the nervous system. Calcium deficiency may cause Osteoporosis (a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass). Other symptoms of Calcium deficiency include:

  • Cramps and muscle aches
  • Weak and decaying teeth
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Kidney stones

Vitamin B12: This vitamin is vital to healthy nerves and red blood cells. According to, one study showed that increasing alcohol consumption from 0 – 30 grams (almost 3 drinks a day) decreased B12 levels by 5%. Symptoms associated with B12 deficiency include:

  • Irregular bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation)
  • Paling of the skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chronic weakness/fatigue
  • Sore tongue

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Earlier I mentioned nearly 80% of alcoholics have a vitamin B1 deficiency and it is one of the root causes of Wenicke-Korsakoff Syndrome [16]. Thiamine is an essential nutrient humans cannot synthesize and must obtain in their diet. It plays a key role in the biosynthesis of different neurotransmitters. Symptoms of Thiamine deficiency include:

  • Difficulty breathing after excretion or when lying down
  • Swelling in the legs/ankles
  • Central Nervous System issues

I’ve just discussed five different nutrients which can be deficient with regular and heavy alcohol intake. Taking 5 different pills separately can be difficult so you may want to find a broad multivitamin which includes all of them. If you don’t want to go that route you should at least consider taking a B-Complex supplement daily.

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Alcohol and Cancer

In 2007, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed alcohol’s effect on cancer risk for 27 different areas of the body. They found statistically significant evidence that alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women) increased the risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, rectum, and breast cancer. [22]

Although scientists don’t completely understand how alcohol consumption increases cancer risk, they have identified two suspected causes:

  • Alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde by the liver. Acetaldehyde it up to 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself. It can damage normal cell’s DNA, potentially leading to cancer.
  • Alcohol interferes with the metabolism of different nutrients vital to normal bodily functions. Having sub-optimal levels of these nutrients can increase the risk of developing many different types of cancers.

How can I minimize the risk of cancer caused by heavy alcohol consumption?

By flushing acetaldehyde out of your system as quickly as possible and making sure you aren’t deficient in the nutrients previously mentioned you can lower your cancer risk.

I’ve already discussed Dihydromyricetin, which is the best supplement you can take for alcohol and acetaldehyde metabolism. The following is an excerpt taken from a research article on Dihydromyricetin:

“Ratten tea, made from the leaves of Ampelopsis grossedentata, may potentially perform multiple pharmacological roles, including anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and anti-hypertension function.”[3]

You may also want to consider taking Glutathione. As mentioned earlier, it is an amino acid essential in the removal of acetaldehyde from the body. Heavy drinking depletes it. [25]

If you are concerned about alcohol increasing your cancer risk, taking some or all of the supplements mentioned above may reduce your risk for cancer.

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Final Words

From a health perspective, alcohol abstinence is ideal. Most drinkers do so in moderation with limited overindulgence that doesn’t result in serious health consequences. There can, however, be long term health problems associated with chronic heavy drinking.

If you are a frequent heavy drinker, eating a proper diet with specific vitamin and nutrient supplementation, as well as using Dihydromyricetin, may reduce your likelihood of developing alcohol-related organ damage, allowing you to continue enjoying alcohol at a “ripe old age.”

Cited Studies

  1. Moderate and Binge Drinking
  2. Liver Transplantation for Alcoholic Liver Disease
  3. Pharmacological Potential of Ampelopsin in Rattan Tea
  4. Dihydromyricetin as a Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication
  5. Effect of juice and fermented vinegar from Hovenia Dulcis
  6. Oxidants and Antioxidants in alcohol-induced liver disease
  7. Moderate drinking? Alcohol consumption significantly decreases neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus
  8. Alcohol and Neurogensis
  9. Alcoholism Statistics
  10. Drug Abuse Treatment Statistics
  11. Can You Die from Alcohol Withdrawal?
  12. Alcohol Use and Alzheimer's Disease
  13. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  14. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells.
  15. Effect of an exo-polysaccharide from the culture broth of Hericium erinaceus on enhancement of growth and differentiation of rat adrenal nerve cells.
  16. Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain
  17. Dihydromyricetin as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication medication.
  18. Alcohol and Nutrition
  19. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: incidence, clinical characteristics, and pathophysiology.
  20. Fish Oil Information
  21. Mechanisms of Vitamin Deficiencies in Alcoholism
  22. Does Drinking Alcohol Increase Cancer Risks?
  23. How Hangovers Work
  24. Non-invasive evaluation of pulmonary glutathione in the exhaled breath condensate of otherwise healthy alcoholics.
  25. Plasma cysteine, cystine, and glutathione in cirrhosis.
  26. Eliminating carcinogenic acetaldehyde by cysteine from saliva during smoking.
  27. Acetaldehyde Blood Levels and Disposition
  28. Protection against Acetaldehyde Toxicity in the rat byl-cysteine, thiamin andl-2-Methylthiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid
  29. Reducing carcinogenic acetaldehyde exposure in the achlorhydric stomach with cysteine.

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