Alcohol is consumed by many people and the negative side effects on cognitive function and health are well known. Most have heard of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcohol abuse. But my area of concern of course is hormones and what most don’t realize is the effect that alcohol can have on your endocrine system. Scientists have known for decades that alcohol also has widespread effects on the endocrine system. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism here are some concerns when it comes to alcohol consumption and hormonal health.
- Alcohol Impairs Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels
The sugar glucose is the main energy source for all tissues in your body. Your hormones help to maintain a constant amount of glucose in the blood. This is very important for your brain as it cannot make or store glucose but depends on glucose being supplied by the blood. Brain damage can result from even short periods of low glucose levels!
Glucose is derived from three sources: food, synthesis in the body, and from the breakdown of glycogen. Alcohol interferes with all three glucose sources and with the function of the hormones trying to regulate it.
Health blood sugars and regulation are extremely important for good health.
- Alcohol Impairs Reproductive Functions
In men, alcohol is directly toxic to the testes, causing reduced testosterone levels in men. In fact, in a study of normal healthy men who received alcohol for 4 weeks, testosterone levels declined after only 5 days and continued to fall throughout the study period. Not cool!
In women alcohol contributes to a multitude of reproductive disorders including cessation of menstruation, irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual cycles without ovulation, early menopause, and increased risk of spontaneous abortions. Some of these symptoms were even observed in women classified as social drinkers.
- Alcohol Impairs Calcium Metabolism and Bone Structure
Your body needs calcium and it is important for many body functions, including communication between and within cells. Your calcium levels are regulated by… you guessed it… hormones! Several different hormones manufactured by the thyroid are responsible for monitoring calcium levels. Alcohol interferes with calcium and bone metabolism in several ways. The end result is nutritional deficiencies, especially of calcium and Vitamin D.
If you are on a quest for better health or if you have confirmed hormonal imbalances, I’d suggest that you reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake. The benefits are numerous!