Alcohol And Diet – Does It Have A Role In Nutrition?
Alcohol and diet would seem to be unlikely companions, and the beverages have calories but is it a food? The answer is no, it is more drug than food, these beverages produce drug like effects in the body, but the only nutrient value that they provide is energy. Nevertheless these beverages are a part of the diets of many people, and in moderation can provide some small health benefits; however it can also raise the risk for birth defects and breast cancer. In large amounts, these beverages interfere with the intake of nutrients, and the body’s ability to use them. They also cause significant damage to every organ in the body. Alcohol and diet are intimately linked.
What Is Alcohol?
The term commonly refers to the specific compound in beer wine, and spirits. Its technical name is ethanol or ethyl alcohol which is abbreviated EtOH and is the only one of this family of liquids that is safe to drink or is it?
How Is It Produced?
Alcohol is produced when yeast cells metabolize sugar, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide in a process called fermentation. This is why alcohol and diet are connected. When a small amount of oxygen is present then more alcohol is produced and less carbon dioxide. There are different types produced for the diet such as wine from fruits such as grapes, mead from honey and beer from grain. With distillation new forms have been produced such as rum, gin, and whiskey which are the hard liquors. These different types have kilocalories associated with them, for example:
• Regular Beer 153 kilocalories
• Light Beer 103 kilocalories
• White Wine 121 kilocalories
• Red Wine 125 kilocalories
• Distilled liquor 97 kilocalories
Is It A Nutrient?
When we speak of alcohol and diet, like fat, protein, and carbohydrates it provides energy when metabolized, and when oxidized it releases 7 kilocalories of energy per gram, but although it provides energy it is not essential like a nutrient and performs no necessary functions in the body, which is one reason why it is stated to provide only empty calories. In addition, it is not stored in the body and unlike nutrients there is a danger to over consuming even a small amount of this substance.
For some who consume it in small amounts it acts like a drug producing effects of euphoria, and for others it is addictive with the characteristics of tolerance, dependence and withdrawal symptoms, thus it does not meet the definition of a nutrient.
The different beverage types have different levels of alcohol, for example, most beer has up to 5% alcohol, wine is generally 8-14%, and hard liquor is typically 35-45%, with beer and wine being labeled as a percent and hard liquor being labeled as proof which refers to twice the alcohol percentage.
Do any of these beverages contain any nutrients?
• Vodka - contains water and alcohol and virtually nothing else
• Gin – contains water, alcohol, and juniper berry flavor and virtually nothing else
• Beer and Wine – contain unfermented carbohydrates and a trace of protein, and some niacin in beer, and very negligible vitamins
• Hard liquor such as scotch, rum, rye, and whiskey have residual traces of the grain from which they were fermented and nothing else
The answer once again is that alcohol is very nutrient poor, very little if any vitamin or mineral content, with no nutritional value, and empty calories.
Recommended Dietary Limits
It is recommended by health professionals that if one is going to drink that moderation is the key, and this means that for men no more than two servings in a day and for women no more than one serving in a day. With a serving being defined as a standard drink of 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor.
For more information about alcohol and diet click on the link to medicinenet.com
Alcohol Metabolism - Neutralizing The Effects Of A Toxic Substance
Alcohol Health Effects - Impacting Nearly Every Organ of The Body
Alcohol Excess Signs - When Drinking Becomes A Problem
Alcoholism and Malnutrition - A Consequence of Too Much Drinking
For other information on nutrition some great references are:
• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein
Nutrition Eating Disorders
Exercise and Vitamins
Nutrition and Exercise
Cooking and Nutrition
Nutrients In Food
Energy From Food
Water and Nutrition
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