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ALCOHOL DANGERS

 

Alcoholic

Alcohol, or ethyl alcohol (ethanol), refers to the intoxicating ingredient found in beer, liqueurs, spirits and wine. Alcohol arises naturally from carbohydrates when certain micro-organisms metabolise them in the absence of oxygen, called fermentation.

Beer, wine and spirits contain different amounts of alcohol. The amount of alcohol in distilled liquor is known as "proof". Proof refers to the amount of alcohol in the liquor; for example, 100 proof liquor contains 50% alcohol, 40 proof liquor contains 20% alcohol, and so on. Traditional wine has approximately 8-14% alcohol, while regular beer has 4-6% alcohol.

Recent studies show that moderate use of certain alcoholic drinks, such as red wine and Guinness, may have a beneficial effect on the coronary system. In general, for healthy people, one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men would be considered the maximum amount of alcohol consumption to be considered moderate use. However, the amount of alcohol that a person can drink safely is highly individual, depending on genetics, age, sex, weight and family history etc. Extensive studies have now confirmed that alcohol can be the cause of many types of cancer and this is the case for moderate drinkers as well as heavy drinkers.

Because the damage being caused to the body, by regular alcohol consumption, is a slow process and often due to nutrient deficiencies that do not manifest symptoms for a some time many people do not realise how dangerous alcohol can be and continue to drink blaming their health disorders on anything but their alcohol consumption. These nutrient deficiencies can eventually lead to various types of illnesses, infections, organ malfunctions and cancer.

A 'hangover' is something that many people believe is quite normal and simply a part of the suffering expected after 'having a good time' drinking but it is actually caused by the body being starved, poisoned and dehydrated. This is dangerous for both the liver and kidneys as well as the brain and heart. The nutrient deficiencies caused by alcohol play a big part and is why a 'hangover' often gets resolved quickly after eating a meal. The body and brain has literally been starved of the many nutrients it requires to function normally. Some of these nutrients that are lost through drinking alcohol are also responsible for creating the hormones and messenger neurones that stop cancerous cells from multiplying. As in a game of 'Russian roulette' it is only a matter of time before the cancer bullet gets out of control and the body cannot stop it.

See the nutrient deficiencies caused by alcohol consumption below.

Alcohol and the liver

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body as it stores some nutrients, controls many other process such as cholesterol levels and helps with digestion and absorption of many nutrients. Fortunately it is capable of regenerating itself after damage is done but it is very important to give the liver a rest for at least three days after more than two drinks are consumed in one day to allow it to do this. Medications and other drugs can also severely damage the liver. When the liver shows signs of alcohol damage, after a blood test, abstinence from alcohol should be for at least month, but even better if it is three months, to allow the liver to regenerate itself and recover. Regular drinkers of alcohol should take the milk thistle herb to help support the liver.

There are many other natural foods that can help an alcohol-damaged liver recover in the Liver section of this website.

How alcohol travels through the body

Alcohol is metabolised extremely quickly by the body. Unlike foods, which require time for digestion, alcohol needs no digestion and is quickly absorbed and metabolised before most other nutrients. About 20 percent is absorbed directly across the walls of an empty stomach and can reach the brain within one minute.

Once alcohol reaches the stomach, it begins to break down with the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. This process reduces the amount of alcohol entering the blood by approximately 20%. (Women produce less of this enzyme, which may help to partially explain why women become more intoxicated on less alcohol than men.). In addition, about 10% of the alcohol is expelled in the breath and urine.

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine. The alcohol-laden blood then travels to the liver via the veins and capillaries of the digestive tract, which affects nearly every liver cell. The liver cells are the only cells in our body that can produce enough of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase to oxidise alcohol at an appreciable rate.

Though alcohol affects every organ of the body, its most dramatic impact is upon the liver. The liver cells normally prefer fatty acids as fuel, and package excess fatty acids as triglycerides, which they then route to other tissues of the body. However, when alcohol is present, the liver cells are forced to first metabolise the alcohol, letting the fatty acids accumulate, sometimes in huge amounts. Alcohol metabolism permanently changes liver cell structure, which impairs the liver's ability to metabolise fats. This explains why heavy drinkers tend to develop fatty livers.

 

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Health affects of excessive alcohol consumption

Arthritis Increases risk of gout and arthritis
Cancer Increases the risk of cancer of the breast, colon, larynx, liver, mouth, pancreas, prostate, rectum, oesophagus, oropharynx, pharynx and skin.
Diabetes Raises blood glucose
Digestion Can cause acid reflux, peptic stomach ulcers, diarrhoea and nausea
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Can cause physical and behavioural abnormalities in the foetus
Heart disease Can raise blood pressure, blood lipids and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease in heavy drinkers. Heart disease is generally lower in light to moderate drinkers.
Kidney disease Enlarges the kidneys, alters hormone functions, and increases the risk of kidney damage and failure
Liver disease Causes a damaged fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis and liver failure. Because the liver is damaged levels of vitamins B12 and vitamin D will be adversely affected and this in turn will lead to bone, immune system and nerve disorders.
Malnutrition Increases the risk of protein energy malnutrition and causes impaired absorption or forced expulsion of calcium, copper, iron, iron, lithium, phosphorous, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and zinc.
Nerve disorders Can cause peripheral nerve damage to the feet, legs and hands, neuropathy and dementia and impairs balance and memory.
Obesity Increases carbohydrate intake so may cause weight gain especially around the stomach and abdomen.
Psychological disturbances Can cause depression, anxiety, aggression, depression, insomnia and paranoia.

Alcohol and weight gain

Excessive drinking can lead to obesity because the body cannot store alcoholic calories in the same way as calories produced by food. This means that if alcohol is consumed in addition to a normal diet, alcohol calories are used by the body while food calories are stored as fat.

Alcohol is not converted to fat in the body and, because it is so rich in calories, the body immediately uses it as a source of energy instead of using fat from ingested foods or the body's fat stores. When the body has plenty of alcohol to burn it will not burn off any existing fat hence leading to weight gain.

Weight will not be lost as normal metabolic processes become affected by lack of the nutrients required. This extra loss of B vitamins and zinc compounds the problem and causes ill health, poor skin, nail and hair conditions, poor circulation, cognitive functions and memory loss. Continued alcohol abuse will lead to further health problems.

Some alcoholic drinks are high in levels of sugar such as sherries, liquors and cider which can have around 20 g (five teaspoons) in just one glass. Wines have around half a teaspoon of sugar in each glass and spirits have very little, if any, but the mixers may make up for that such as tonic water that can have up to 18 g of sugar or four teaspoons. If trying to seriously lose weight, drinking more than once a week is probably not an option.

Calories in drinks

  • Lager 1 pint (568 ml) 233

  • Guinness 1 pint (568 ml) 210

  • Liquors 1 shot (50 ml) 194

  • Draft beer 1 pint (568 ml) 182

  • Baileys (37 ml) 130

  • Cider 1 pint (568 ml) 105

  • Tia Maria (35 ml) 105

  • Tequila (35 ml) 105

  • Champagne 1 glass (120 ml) 89

  • Medium white wine 1 glass (120 ml) 87

  • Red wine 1 glass (125 ml) 85

  • Rose wine 1 glass (120 ml) 83

  • Campari (35 ml) 80

  • Port 1 glass (50 ml) 78

  • Jack Daniels (35 ml) 78

  • Brandy (35 ml) 72

  • Gin (35 ml) 72

  • Vodka (35 ml) 72

  • Whiskey (35 ml) 72

  • Sweet sherry 1 glass (50 ml) 68

  • Medium sherry 1 glass (50 ml) 58

  • Fizzy mixers like coca-cola (1 pint - 568 ml) 268

  • Pineapple juice (1 pint - 568 ml) 340

  • Tomato juice (1 pint - 568 ml) 340

  • Lemonade (1 pint - 568 ml)

  • Soda water 0

Alcohol and body odour

If an alcoholic is drying out during recovery, their bodies will constantly sweat and put off an extremely sour smell. This is a normal, although alarming, part of the detoxification process. Compared to other alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as severe muscle cramping, nausea, hallucinations and sleeplessness, body odour is not much to worry about. It will usually subside about two weeks or less after the last drink.

Alcohol consumption can intensify another condition that causes a sweet body odour, called ketoacidosis. If an alcoholic is also diabetic, then they may exhibit this odour after every drink. See
Diabetic ketoacidosis.

Alcohol and Nutrient deficiency

Alcoholic drinks contain seven calories per gram of alcohol but, like pure sugar, the calories are void of nutrients. The more calories an individual consumes in alcohol, the less likely it is that they will eat enough food to obtain adequate nutrients. To make matters worse, chronic alcohol abuse not only displaces calories from needed nutrients, but also interferes with the body's absorption and metabolism of nutrients, leading to damage of the liver, digestive system and nearly every bodily organ.

Vitamins

Because alcohol acts like a diuretic many water-soluble vitamins are lost when drinking regularly especially the B vitamins which can have an adverse effect most of the important processes that take place in the body.

Alcohol also affects the body's ability to absorb most of the B vitamins. It is ironic that the B vitamins play a role in counteracting stress, and that many people use alcohol, which interferes with B vitamin absorption, to counter stress. They little realise that while it may work in the short run, in the long run it is definitely counter-productive, because among other things it undermines some of the nutrients necessary to combat stress.

Alcohol also contributes to loss and malabsorption of the fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin A which can have an adverse effect on the eyes, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E which can affect the levels of minerals in the body and the immune system and vitamin K which can adversely effect the heart and bones and vitamin D levels. To counter this and make a faster recovery from alcohol damage a diet rich in all these vitamins must be consumed on a daily basis when drinking alcohol. Follow the blue links below to find out more and which natural foods are rich sources these important nutrients.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Excessive drinking is known for causing a serious deficiency in vitamin B1  which is found mainly in whole or enriched grains, beans and seeds. Alcohol appears to reduce its absorption, increase its requirements and impede its conversion to the active form. Adequate thiamine is crucial for carbohydrate metabolism and the formation of ATP, the body’s energy currency. The deficiency disease, which affects the nervous system and the heart, is called beri-beri. Chronic alcoholism can result in a severe form of beri-beri called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a form of psychosis accompanied by memory loss and brain shrinkage.

Highest sources of vitamin B1 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Yeast extract 23.38 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 11 mg (dependent upon source check label)

  • Rice bran 2.75 mg

  • Wheat germ 1.88 mg

  • Sesame seeds 1.21 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1.48 mg

  • Coriander leaves 1.25 mg

  • Pine nuts 1.24 mg

  • Peanuts 0.44 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 0.3 mg

  • Okra 0.2 mg

  • Jerusalem artichoke 0.20 mg

  • Beetroot greens 0.12 mg

  • Sprouted beans 0.39 mg

  • Spinach 0.10 mg

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Low levels of vitamin B2 may manifest itself as cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth, eye disorders, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, skin lesions, dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, light sensitivity, poor digestion, retarded growth and slow mental responses have also been reported. Burning feet can also be indicative of a shortage and it can also cause a lack of red blood cells.

Vitamin B2 is required by the body to use oxygen and for the metabolism of amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates and protein. Vitamin B2 is further needed to activate vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (folic acid), helps to create vitamin B3 (niacin) and assists the adrenal gland. It is also used for red blood cell formation, antibody production, cell respiration, growth and many other vital processes.

Highest sources of vitamin B2 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Yeast extract 17.5 mg

  • Lamb’s liver 4.59 mg

  • Baker’s yeast 4 mg

  • Parsley 2.38 mg

  • Cheese 1.38 mg

  • Almonds 1.10 mg

  • Lean beef 0.86 mg

  • Soya beans 0.76 mg

  • Wheat bran 0.58 mg

  • Mackerel 0.58 mg

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is required for the balancing of hormonal changes in women as well as assisting the immune system and the growth of new cells in all individuals. It is also used in the processing and metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, while assisting with controlling moods as well as behaviour. It also assists in the balancing of sodium and potassium and promotes red blood cell production. It is further involved in the nucleic acids RNA as well as DNA. Vitamin B6 is also needed by the body to manufacture its own vitamin B3 and converts glycogen to the glucose needed for energy.

Alcohol promotes the loss and destruction of vitamin B6 from the body and the medicine theophylline, often prescribed to asthmatic children, decreases levels of vitamin B6 in the body. Ironically, asthma and allergies can be caused by low levels of vitamin B6. Low levels of vitamin B6 can also cause low glucose tolerance and high blood sugar, irritability, nervousness and insomnia as well as general weakness and skin disorders such as dermatitis and acne. 

Highest sources of vitamin B6 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Rice bran 4.07 mg

  • Sage 2.69 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 1.50 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1.35 mg

  • Wheat germ 1.30 mg

  • Garlic 1.24mg

  • Pistachio nuts 1.12 mg

  • Tuna fish 1.04 mg

  • Beef or calf’s liver 1.03 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 0.97 mg

  • Salmon 0.94 mg

  • Turkey 0.81 mg

  • Venison 0.76 mg

NOTE: Wild salmon (0.94 mg) contains far more vitamin B6 than farmed salmon (0.56 mg) and fresh salmon and tuna are far richer in vitamin B6 than tinned.

Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid works as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage and thus relieve peripheral neuropathy which can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy or by conditions such as alcoholism, diabetes, kidney failure, Lyme disease, shingles and thyroid disease. Symptoms can include burning, itching, numbness, pain, tingling, weakness and itching.

Highest food sources of alpha-lipoic acid in alphabetical order

  • Brewers yeast

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Organ meats

  • Peas

  • Rice bran

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Tomatoes

  • Watercress

Vitamin B15

Vitamin B15 is used for treating alcohol dependency and can reduce alcohol cravings and diminish hangovers.

Natural sources of vitamin B15

  • Apricot kernels

  • Beef blood

  • Brewer's yeast

  • Brown rice

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Whole grains

Vitamin D

 

Alcohol also reduces the absorption of the vitamin D which can have a serious affect on the immune system and the bones and teeth. A liver damaged by excessive alcohol consumption can further reduce levels of vitamin D in the body.

 

Ten to fifteen minutes of midday sunshine on the skin can provide all the body needs. It is not the same as sunbathing; the skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight. UVB radiation does not penetrate glass, so exposure to sunshine indoors through a window does not produce vitamin D. Over exposure of the suns rays can be dangerous for the skin but no exposure at all can be equally detrimental to the bones and teeth. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight convert cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D.


During the winter months (October-April) when it is generally too cold to expose the skin to the sun and in the northern hemisphere there is not enough UVB rays from the sun anyway, it is advisable to raise the weekly intake of vitamin D rich foods. Complete cloud cover reduces UV energy by 50%; shade (including that produced by severe pollution) reduces it by 60%. The optimum level of vitamin D in the blood should be 50-70 ng/ml and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer and heart disease. It is important to have a blood test to determine vitamin D levels especially if regularly drinking alcohol.


Highest sources of vitamin D per serving

  • Krill oil - 1 teaspoon or capsule: 1000 IU

  • Eel - 85 g or 3 oz: 792 IU

  • Maitake mushrooms - 70 g: 786 IU

  • Rainbow trout - 85 g or 3 oz: 540 IU

  • Cod liver oil - 1 teaspoon (or capsule): 440 IU

  • Mackerel - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Salmon - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Halibut - 85 g or 3 oz: 196 IU

  • Tuna - 85 g or 3 oz: 228 IU

  • Sardines - 85 g or 3 oz: 164 IU

  • Chanterelle mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 155 IU

  • Raw milk - 1 glass or 8 oz: 98 IU

  • Egg yolk - 1 large: 41 IU

  • Caviar - 28g or 1 oz: 33 IU

  • Hemp seeds - 100 g or 3.5 oz: 22 IU

  • Portabella mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 6 IU

NOTE: One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms.

Alcohol and minerals

For moderate drinkers, alcohol does not suppress food intake and may actually increase appetite. Chronic alcohol consumption appears to have the opposite effect. Alcohol causes euphoria, which depresses appetite, so that heavy drinkers tend to eat poorly and become malnourished. Many minerals become displaced when consuming alcohol on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important the those that drink regularly consume extra foods containing these vital nutrients. Choose at least one food from each of the top sources to consume on the day of, and the day after, drinking alcohol.

Calcium

Alcohol reduces the absorption of the calcium which can have a serious adverse affect on the body because calcium is required for many bodily functions more than most other minerals. Calcium also plays a role in many other vital physiological activities, including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, cell membrane function and blood pressure regulation. Because these activities are essential to life, the body utilises complex regulatory systems to tightly control the amount of calcium in the blood, so that sufficient calcium is always available. As a result, when dietary intake of calcium is too low to maintain adequate blood levels, calcium stores are drawn out of the bones to maintain normal blood concentrations.

Highest sources of calcium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Dried herbs such as basil, dill, marjoram, rosemary and thyme 2113 mg

  • Cheese such as goat’s, gruyere, parmesan, Romano and Swiss 1376 mg

  • Sesame seeds 975 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 961 mg

  • Tinned fish with bones such as sardines, mackerel and pilchards 383 mg

  • Tofu 372 mg

  • Almonds 264 mg

  • Flaxseeds 255 mg

  • Chlorella 221mg

  • Mussels 180 mg

  • Oysters 170 mg

  • Brazil nuts 160 mg

  • Prawns 150 mg

  • Tripe 150 mg

  • Scallops, spirulina and watercress 120 mg

  • Whole milk and whole yoghurt 113 mg

  • Chinese cabbage 105 mg

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip greens  99 mg

  • Okra 77 mg

  • Soya beans 75 mg

  • Fish such as bass, herring, pike, perch, pollock and rainbow trout 74 mg

  • Kidney beans 70 mg

  • Eggs 60 mg

  • Broccoli 47 mg

Copper

Alcohol can reduce the levels of copper in the body leading to anaemia and other associated disorders. Low levels of cooper may result in bodily weakness, digestive disturbances, impaired respiration and can cause premature hair greying, infertility and premature wrinkling of the skin. It can also lead to oedema, fragile bones, excitability and loss of the taste sense. Copper, together with zinc improves the absorption of vitamin D which aids in the absorption of calcium. Copper is also essential for the utilisation of vitamin C and works as an antioxidant. It can also help to prevent cancer, strengthens the immune system and protects against heart and vascular diseases.

Highest sources of copper in milligrams per 200 calorie serving

  • Clams 49 mg

  • Calf’s liver 17 mg

  • Beef 17 mg

  • Oysters (raw) 13 mg

  • Lamb 10 mg

  • Duck 9 mg

  • Himalayan salt crystals 6 mg

  • Sea salt (unrefined) 6 mg

  • Spirulina 5 mg

  • Chlorella 5 mg

  • Squid 4 mg

  • Lobster 4 mg

  • Mushrooms (Crimini) 4 mg

  • Mushrooms (Shiitake) 3 mg

  • Basil 3 mg

  • Cocoa (organic) 3 mg

  • Capers 3 mg

  • Mineral water 3 mg

  • Apple cider vinegar 3 mg

  • Chamomile tea 3 mg

  • Lemons 3 mg

  • Chicory greens 3 mg

  • Turnip greens 3 mg

  • Cashew nuts 2.2 mg

  • Crab 2 mg

  • Squid 2 mg

  • Potatoes (with skins) 2 mg

  • Coriander 2 mg

  • Asparagus 2 mg

  • Swiss chard 2 mg

  • Winged beans 2 mg

  • Beetroot greens 2mg

Iron

Iron is an important trace mineral which is part of the vital activity of the blood and glands. It is responsible for the oxygen transport and the formation of red blood cells. It is part of the enzymes haemoglobin (in the blood) and myoglobulin (in the muscles) and of other enzymes. It is also important in the energy production and it is vital for a correctly functioning immune system and repairs and recovery from infections, injuries and surgery. 

Women absorb more iron than men, but iron deficiencies are more common for women than men. This is because of the loss of blood during the menstruation. Also the blood production for the foetus, breast-feeding, and the use of a spiral, has claim a lot of the iron reserves of a woman. Studies have shown that women from the adolescence until the menopause have a large risk of developing a chronic iron deficiency. As a consequence anaemia can develop. Symptoms of women with iron deficiency are a lowered appetite, fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations, pale skin, respirations difficulties in case of physical effort and tingling of the hands and feet.

Iron is an important component in cognitive, motor sensor and social-emotional development and functioning. Iron deficiency can be caused by drinking alcohol regularly and can lead to an insufficient number of red blood cells which can cause symptoms of depression such as fatigue, brain fog, loss of appetite and irritability.

Iron deficiency can also cause dyspnoea (breathlessness), insomnia, heart palpitations. headache, a poor appetite and tingling hands and feet. A deficiency of iron and vitamin B6 may be also be responsible for the anxiety, distress and hyperventilation which accompanies panic attacks. Iron supplements are not advised because an overdose can cause constipation, diarrhoea, damage to the heart and liver and in rare cases, in extremely high doses, even be fatal. Even doses of three grams can be deadly especially for children.

Highest sources of iron in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Black pepper, marjoram, parsley, spinach, thyme 224 mg

  • Spirulina 29 mg

  • Clams 28 mg

  • Bran 19 mg

  • Liver 18 mg

  • Squash and pumpkin seeds 15 mg

  • Caviar 12 mg

  • Hemp seeds 9.6 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 9 mg

  • Cashew nuts 6.7 mg

  • Dried apricot 6.3 mg

  • Wheat 6.3 mg

  • Black strap molasses 4.7 mg

  • Prunes 3.5 mg

  • Artichokes 3.4 mg

  • Prawns 3.1 mg

  • Lean beef 2.9 mg

  • Turkey 2.3mg

  • Raisins 1.9 mg

  • Chicken 1.3 mg

  • Tuna 1.3 mg

NOTE: When consuming iron rich foods, one should also consume foods rich in vitamin B9, vitamin B12 and vitamin C everyday. Follow the blue links to find out natural resources and functions of these essential vitamins:

Lithium

Lithium is a nutritionally essential trace element with a potential to decrease mortality and provide anti-aging capabilities and has therapeutic properties with bi-polar and manic-depressive disorders. Lithium also has an effect on the potassium and sodium balance in the body. In addition to treating patients with depression, lithium has been used with some success for alcoholism. Supplements are not advised though as excessive lithium can cause brain damage, diarrhoea, frequent urination, goitre, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, lethargy, liver disease, memory problems, mental confusion, nausea, oedema, slurred speech, staggering gait, tremors, vomiting, weight gain and death. Magnesium can be used to treat lithium overdose.

Highest sources of lithium in micrograms per kilogram

  • Milk 7533 µg

  • Eggs 7373 µg

  • Tomatoes 6707 µg

  • Mushrooms 5788 µg

  • Cucumbers 5017 µg

  • Pork 3844 µg

  • Black Tea 3737 µg

  • Red Cabbage 3579 µg

  • Cauliflower 3462 µg

  • Beef 3428 µg

  • Swede 2966 µg

  • Paprika 2316 µg

  • Poultry 2379 µg

  • Marjoram 2289 µg

  • Soft Cheese 2276 µg

  • Asparagus 2217 µg

  • White Cabbage 1874 µg

  • Herring 1734 µg

  • Cocoa 1728 µg

  • Potatoes 1592 µg

  • Apples 1449 µg

  • Rice 1260 µg

  • Butter 1070 µg

  • Cinnamon 1046 µg

  • Barley 995 µg

  • Wheat Flour 905 µg

  • Lentils 748 µg

  • Semolina 538 µg

  • Honey 527 µg

  • Bananas 383 µg

  • Red Wine 329 µg

  • White Wine 305 µg

NOTE:  One µg is one microgram.

Magnesium

Chronic alcoholics often show a low plasma magnesium concentration and a high urinary output. They may, therefore, require magnesium therapy especially in an acute attack of delirium tremens. Magnesium is a macro element also known as the anti-stress mineral. It is an important nutrient for the brain as it raises the resistance against stress, depression, tensions and helps against mental tiredness. It also strengthens the memory and concentration, stabilises the heart, calms the nerves and regulates the heart beat. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. The body does not store magnesium like it does calcium.

Magnesium is excreted as a result of drinking alcohol or high caffeine drinks such as coffee and fizzy drinks, high stress, diarrhoea, sugar intake or high levels of protein and fruit in the diet. Magnesium is poisonous for people with kidney problems or disturbances in the the heartbeat. High doses can cause hot flushes, thirst, low blood pressure and sometimes loss of reflexes and therefore supplements are not advised.

Highest sources of magnesium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Rice bran 781 mg

  • Basil, coriander, dill and sage 694 mg

  • Hemp seeds 640 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 535 mg

  • Raw cocoa 499 mg

  • Flaxseeds 392 mg

  • Brazil nuts 376 mg

  • Sesame seeds 353 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 346 mg

  • Chia seeds 335 mg

  • Chlorella 315 mg

  • Wheat germ 313 mg

  • Cashew nuts 292 mg

  • Almonds 268 mg

  • Caraway seeds 258 mg

  • Black strap molasses and dulse 242 mg

  • Buckwheat 231 mg

  • Spirulina 189 mg

  • Oats 177 mg

  • Durum wheat 144 mg

  • Macadamia nuts 130 mg

  • Adzuki beans 127 mg

  • Kelp 121 mg

  • Millet 114 mg

  • Kale 88 mg

  • Anchovies 69 mg

  • Amaranth 65 mg

  • Globe artichoke 60 mg

  • Okra and nettles 57 mg

  • Chestnuts 54 mg

  • Rocket 47 mg

  • Dates 43 mg

  • Plantain 37 mg

  • Lentils 36 mg

  • Butternut squash 34 mg

  • Coconut 32 mg

  • Potatoes with skin 30 mg

  • Passion fruit 29 mg

  • Savoy cabbage, halibut 28 mg

  • Bananas, rabbit 27 mg

  • Bread fruit, green beans 25 mg

  • Peas 24 mg

  • Raspberries 22 mg

  • Guava 22 mg

  • Blackberries 20 mg

  • Courgettes 18 mg

  • Kiwi fruit, fennel, figs 17 mg

  • Endive 15 mg

  • Cucumber, lettuce 13 mg

Phosphorous

Alcohol also reduces the absorption of the phosphorus which can have a serious adverse affect on the body. Phosphorous combines with calcium to create the calcium-phosphorus balance necessary for the growth of bones and teeth and in the formation of nerve cells. Phosphorus also contributes to proper kidney functioning and lessens arthritis pain. A deficiency of phosphorous can result in poor mineralisation of bones, impotence, infertility and deficient nerve and brain function.  

Highest sources of phosphorous in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Baking powder 6869 mg

  • Pumpkin seeds 1233 mg

  • Whey powder 932 mg

  • Poppy seeds 849 mg

  • Mustard seeds 828 mg

  • Parmesan cheese 807 mg

  • Brazil nuts 725 mg

  • Raw cocoa powder 734 mg

  • Soya beans 637 mg

  • Cashew nuts 593 mg

  • Beef liver 497 mg

  • Sardines 490 mg

  • Caviar 356 mg

  • Tempeh 266 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 356 mg

  • Brown rice 360 mg

  • Buckwheat 319 mg

  • Dried shiitake mushrooms 294 mg

  • Anchovies 252 mg

  • Portobello mushrooms 108 mg

  • White mushrooms 105 mg

  • Water cress 60 mg

 

Selenium

 

Selenium is important to mental health as it plays a role in the workings of the thyroid gland and can help to alleviate the mood and reduce symptoms of depression. It is also known to alleviate hot flushes and menopausal distress and is also important for male virility. Alcoholics, as well as patients with candidiasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and arthrogryposis-renal dysfunction-cholestasis (ARC), have all shown low levels of selenium. Also, heart disease and cancer are higher in people with diminished selenium levels. Too much selenium can cause some toxic effects including gastrointestinal upset, brittle nails, hair loss and mild nerve damage and therefore supplements are not advised. Eating two Brazil nuts per day can provide the selenium that has been lost as well as many other essential nutrients.

Highest sources of selenium in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Brazil nuts 1917 µg

  • Oysters 154 µg

  • Lamb's liver 116 µg

  • Tuna 108 µg

  • Whelks and octopus 89.6 µg

  • Wheat germ 79.2 µg

  • Sunflower seeds 79 µg

  • Amaranth 70.7 µg

  • Caviar (fish roe) 65.5 µg

  • Anchovies 68.1 µg

  • Egg yolk 56 µg

  • Chia seeds 55.2 µg

  • Kippers 52.6 µg

  • Pork 51.6 µg

  • Halibut 46.8 µg

  • Oat bran 45.2 µg

  • Lean beef 44.8 µg

  • Crab 44.4 µg

  • Salmon 41.4 µg

  • Rabbit (wild) 38.5 µg

  • Chicken and turkey 37.8 µg

  • Turbot 36.5 µg

  • Sesame seeds 34.4 µg

  • Kamut 30 µg

  • Couscous 27.5 µg

  • Mushrooms (Crimini) 26 µg

  • Cashew nuts 19.9 µg

  • Calf's liver 19.3 µg

  • Rabbit 15.2 µg

  • Rye (whole grain) 13.9 µg

  • Venison 10.3 µg

  • Spirulina 7.2 µg

  • Asparagus 6.1 µg

  • Spinach 5.5 µg

NOTE: One µg is one microgram.

Zinc

Zinc is vital for healthy skin and hair, proper healing of wounds, successful pregnancies and male virility. It plays a essential role in guarding against diseases and infection and is also needed to transport vitamin A to the retina. There are 156 enzymes that require zinc for their functioning and healthy growth and sexual maturity are just two of the many functions that depend upon zinc.

Because zinc is expelled by drinking alcohol, cadmium toxicity can result especially in those that smoke tobacco or cannabis as well. Cadmium can depress some immune functions by reducing resistance to bacteria and viruses. It may also increase cancer risk, for the lungs and prostate. Cadmium toxicity has been implicated in generating prostate enlargement, possibly by interfering with zinc support. Cadmium, copper and lead concentrations increase in the lens of the eyes in tobacco smokers leading to cataracts and vision impairment. Long term cadmium exposure can also lead to cancer, hypertension, heart and kidney disease, emphysema and anaemia.

Cadmium also affects the bones because zinc together with copper, improves the absorption of vitamin D, the vitamin which aids in the absorption of calcium. It has been known to cause bone and joint aches and pains. This syndrome, first described in Japan caused by cadmium pollution there. It was also associated with weak bones that lead to deformities, especially of the spine or to fragile and easily broken bones. This disease was fatal in many cases. Long term cadmium exposure can also lead to cancer, hypertension, heart and kidney disease, emphysema and anaemia. Read more about Cadmium Toxicity.

Zinc deficiency can result in alopecia, depression, delayed wound healing, diarrhoea, frequent infection. growth retardation, impaired immunity, impaired senses, impotence, infertility, loss of hair, night blindness, photophobia, poor appetite, scaly skin inflammation, skin diseases and weight loss. Those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may have a zinc deficiency. The loss of zinc and other nutrients through drinking alcohol can also result in erectile dysfunction.

Because forced expulsion of zinc through the urine takes place in the body of regular alcohol drinkers, they need to ensure their diet contains plenty of the following zinc rich foods and at least one of them the day of, or the day after, drinking alcohol.

Highest sources of zinc in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Oysters 78.6 mg

  • Chlorella 71 mg

  • Wheat germ 16.7 mg

  • Beef 12.3 mg

  • Calf's liver 11.9 mg

  • Hemp seeds 11.5 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 10.3 mg

  • Sesame and watermelon seeds 10.2 mg

  • Bamboo shoots, endives and gourds 9 mg

  • Chervil (herb) 8.8 mg

  • Lamb 8.7 mg

  • Venison 8.6 mg

  • Alfalfa seeds (sprouted), amaranth leaves, Crimini mushrooms, Irish moss and tea 8 mg

  • Crab 7.6 mg

  • Lobster 7.3 mg

  • Agave, basil, broccoli, buffalo, elk, emu, oats, ostrich, spinach and turkey 7 mg

  • Cocoa powder 6.8 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.8 mg

  • Asparagus, chicken livers, laver seaweed, mushrooms, parsley and rice bran 5.7 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.6 mg

  • Pork 5.1 mg

  • Jute (herb), lemon grass, mung beans, Portobello mushrooms, radishes and shiitake mushrooms 5 mg

  • Agar seaweed, butterbur, cauliflower, chicory, Chinese cabbage, chives, coriander, green beans, lentils, lettuce, okra, rocket, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes and wasabi (yellow) 3.4 mg

  • Peanuts 3.3 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 3.1 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 2.9 mg

  • Anchovies and rabbit 2.4 mg

  • Cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno peppers, , kidney beans, navy beans, spirulina and turnip greens 2 mg

  • Mussels 1.6 mg

  • Arrowroot, artichokes (globe), beetroot, bell peppers, black eyed peas, borage, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chilli peppers, courgettes, dandelion greens, garlic, horseradish, kale, kelp, mustard greens, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkin, turnips, Swede, sweet potato, tomatoes (red),  wakame (seaweed), watercress and winged beans 1.2 mg

Daily essentials for those that drink alcohol or who are recovering alcoholics

One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar should be added to a cup of warm water and drunk each morning before anything else. This will detoxify and support the liver which will be suffering from the ill effects of alcohol. Adding a pinch of chilli pepper, a teaspoon of turmeric, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a teaspoon of pure honey will provide additional cleansing properties.

One tablespoon of powder algae or sea weed and sea vegetables such as chlorella, dulse, Irish moss, kelp and spirulina provides many of the essential minerals missing in land-based crops due to intensive farming techniques. These sea foods will also chelate (bind to) heavy metals and toxins that are absorbed on a daily basis and expel them from the body. Coriander leaves have a similar beneficial effect. They are best eaten separately from beans, grains, legumes and other phytic acid containing foods so that the absorption of minerals is not impaired.

One tablespoon of barley grass powder will provide essential vitamins and minerals especially vitamin B12 which is rarely found in plant foods and often at dangerously low levels in drinks of alcohol.

Red, blue and purple berries are an important source of vitamins and anti-oxidants and a serving should be consumed daily. Consumed with plain yoghurt and milled flaxseeds for breakfast is a healthy way to start the day.

A serving of green leafy vegetable should be consumed each day to provide the vitamins and minerals like iron that the body requires. They are best eaten separately from beans, grains, legumes and other phytic acid containing foods so that absorption of minerals is not impaired.

Fibre is very important and should be consumed at least twice a day. Two thirds can come from coconut flesh, beans, grains, legumes, pulses and vegetables and one third from fruit.

One krill oil capsule per day. This will add essential fatty acids to the diet as well as vitamin D which can be lacking in people that live in the Northern hemisphere in places like Canada, Europe, Russia and the USA during the winter months as well as those that drink alcohol.

The juice and zest of one lemon should be consumed daily as this has powerful components that help with digestion and act as a cleanser of the system. It can be added to fish, salad, rice or any other dishes or herbal teas which should also be drunk in replacement of coffee at least three times a day.

One tablespoon of psyllium husks in a large glass of water followed by a second glass or some green tea. This will resolve colon and excretory issues often suffered by those who regularly drink alcohol.

Green tea is very nutritious and can help the body to cleanse itself and burn extra fat.

A daily serving of foods rich in vitamin C must be consumed with the same amount of foods rich in vitamin E as, together, they have an effect on balancing the levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc in the body. Too much of one or the other will upset this balance causing malfunctions in the many processes that require the presence of these minerals.

When consuming the daily serving of vegetables that contain carotenoids (which give the red and orange colours to them) a little oil must be consumed also in order to absorb these fat-soluble nutrients. This can be in the form of avocado, butter, coconut oil, fish, nut, seed and any other cold-pressed plant oils.

Drink plenty of bottled mineral water to avoid the impurities and the chlorine and fluoride added to tap water and add extra minerals to the diet.

Additional tips for recovery

To help the body recover from the damage caused by alcohol the following should be eliminated from the diet entirely for at least three months. This will especially help the liver to recover faster.

  • Pre-made breakfast cereals. All have unhealthy additives such as preservatives and sugar and most are now fortified with an imbalance of nutrients as the processing removed the natural and balanced nutrients they once contained. Home-made breakfasts using nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried or fresh fruits are a far healthier alternative.

  • Coffee. Drink green and herbal teas instead.

  • Fatty meats. Only eat small portions (no bigger than your clenched fist) very lean cuts of red meat such as beef, rabbit and venison or white meats. Avoid duck, lamb and pork as these are full of saturated fats.

  • Processed foods and premade meals and snacks or any kind, savoury or sweet.

  • Refined white rice, table salt and flour. Choose brown rice, sea salt or Himalayan salt crystals and whole grains instead.

  • Sugar. Use honey and dried or fresh fruits for sweetness instead.

Alcohol and mouthwashes

Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and these are known to provide the perfect environment for pathogenic bacteria, parasites and yeast to survive in the intestinal tract so should be avoided. Aloe vera, bicarbonate of soda, coconut oil and green tea with some drops of essential oils such as peppermint or tea tree can provide an effective mouth cleaner instead.


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