What you drink affects what you eat

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

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There is nothing like alcohol to ruin one’s diet. Alcohol is rich in calories. But that is not all. Aside from loading you up on calories, alcohol actually puts you off the healthy stuff like fruit and cereals. This is according to a study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to NIAAA Acting Director Dr. Kenneth R. Warren:

“Heavy drinking and dietary factors have independently been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and other chronic health problems. This finding raises questions about whether the combination of alcohol misuse and poor diet might interact to further increase health risks.”

The researchers study looked at more than 15,000 American adults who are participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The drinking and dietary habits of the participants were analyzed, in particular alcohol consumption and how close do these people’s diets conform to the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Theirs results showed that people who consume more alcohol are also more likely to eat more fatty and sugary foods and less likely to eat fruit.

According to lead author Dr. Rosalind A. Breslow, an epidemiologist in NIAAA’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research:

“We found that as alcoholic beverage consumption increased, Healthy Eating Index scores decreased, an indication of poorer food choices. It’s important to note that our study did not determine the cause of these associations.”

This is not the first study to indicate that the worst drinkers have the unhealthiest diets. However, the current study went into detail about finding out what specific aspects of the diet are affected by alcohol consumption as well as gender differences. In both men and women, consumption of fruit is reduced and calorie-rich food consumption is increased with increasing alcohol intake. However, men are even worse than women in that aside from fruit, they also tend to forgo the milk and the whole grain food stuffs.

The health hazards of excessive alcohol consumption are quite well-documented: important body organs such as the liver, the heart, and the kidneys are affected. Excessive alcohol consumption is also linked to increased risk for certain cancers.

“The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines define moderate drinking as no more than one drink on any day for women and no more than two drinks on any day for men. It is important for people to consume nutrient-dense foods, like whole fruits and whole grains, that provide substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and relatively few calories, while limiting the consumption of alcohol, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, which provide calories but few essential nutrients.”

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