Along with the holidays come many questions about alcohol—the good (a little red wine), the bad (hard liquor) and the ugly (sugary drinks made with hard liquor!).
This time of year is the season to enjoy delicious food, delightful libations and good company. Unfortunately, the libations can be problematic because of the damaging effects of the metabolites of alcohol, molecules called aldehydes. As we age, the protein in our bodies begins to deteriorate. This is due in part to the accumulation of aldehydes in the body from such diverse sources as alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, vehicle exhaust fumes and even chronic Candida infections.
Aldehydes also decrease energy production by inhibiting coenzyme A, which is present in all living cells and is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and some amino acids. Chronic aldehyde exposure also contributes to numerous signs and symptoms of aging, including heart disease and cataracts, and has damaging effects on brain function.
The good news is that we can enjoy a glass of wine while also decreasing our risk of damage from aldehydes. The secret lies in green foods such as young barley grass. To help combat the effects of aldehydes, drink green foods such as Green Magma, available at natural food stores (www.greenfoods.com).
These green foods, particularly young barley grass, are powerful detoxifying agents that can help counter the negative effects of alcohol. Recent research now suggests that acetaldehyde (one of a number of aldehydes produced by the oxidation of alcohol) may be responsible for cancer and other health problems related to alcohol consumption. Acetaldehyde is toxic to tissues and may produce genetic mutations by damaging DNA.
Since acetaldehyde accumulates in the gut during drinking, it may be possible to break down the acetaldehyde by consuming certain drinks or foods. The formation of acetaldehyde is prevented by the presence of a unique bioflavonoid called glycosylisovitexin, or GIV, found in relatively high concentrations in barley grass juice.
Alcohol is detoxified by the liver; therefore, another highly recommended strategy to protect the liver is to use curcumin, the substance that gives the spice turmeric its distinctive yellow color. This much-loved curry spice stops the changes caused by excessive alcohol consumption that lead to liver damage. I recommend mixing ¼ teaspoon with a little water. This amazing spice will also lower blood sugar and provide superior antioxidant protection.
The good—glass of red wine
• No need to stay in the cellar—unless it’s the wine cellar! The antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine helps protect the skin against the sun’s UV radiation.
• Many studies have suggested that moderate red wine drinking helps to reduce the likelihood of heart disease.
• Red wines such as cabernet sauvignon interfere with the production of a chemical that leads to clogged arteries and an increased risk of heart attack. Polyphenols found in red wine protect our cells from free radical damage.
The bad—hard liquor
Alcohol causes small blood vessels in the skin to widen, allowing more blood to flow close to the skin’s surface. This produces a flushed skin color and a feeling of warmth which can lead to broken capillaries on the face. Hard liquor packs a potent punch, much more so than small amounts of wine. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and dry skin is more prone to fine lines than is well-hydrated skin. Aldehydes are destructive in that they cause damage to the cell plasma membrane as well as various portions of the interior of the cell, and cause an inflammatory reaction along with this cellular damage.
The ugly—hard liquor mixed with sugary beverages
Drinks made of hard liquor and added sugars are not a good idea. If you are drinking these types of cocktails, be aware that the sugars in juice or sodas have pro-inflammatory effects on the skin—on top of the detrimental effects of the alcohol. If you do have an occasional cocktail, avoid mixing sugar, soda or juice with the alcohol; use water or tonic instead.
What will you be toasting with this holiday?