For years, I found solace in the ritual of coming home from a long day at work and unwinding with a glass of wine or a cold beer. It seemed like the perfect way to relax and momentarily escape the pressures of running multiple companies in the food and supplement industry.
However, what I didn’t realise was that this seemingly harmless habit was subtly eroding my well-being, particularly affecting areas crucial to my professional life, such as memory and stress management.
It was during one of those sleepless nights, lying awake and pondering over life’s complexities, that I decided to experiment. The goal was not to quit alcohol entirely but to build a healthier relationship with it.
I wanted to break free from the routine, to ensure that I was the one in control, not the other way around. I didn’t want to give up the joy of sharing a drink with friends or enjoying a fine wine over a romantic dinner with my partner.
What I wanted was to remove it from being a daily ritual, to regain control and make it an ‘occasion’ rather than a ‘necessity’.
Week 1: The Sugar Rush and the Quest for Substitutes
The first week without alcohol was a rollercoaster. My body, accustomed to the daily dose of ethanol, started craving sugar intensely. It was as if my system was trying to replace one addiction with another.
I also noticed an increased sexual appetite, a physiological response that experts say is not uncommon when quitting substances. These cravings were my body’s way of seeking alternative sources of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter.
Week 2: The Gut-Brain Axis Revelation
By the second week, I started delving into the science behind these changes. Through my work on probiotics, I was already aware that alcohol kills beneficial gut bacteria. However, experiencing the impact firsthand was astonishing. I became my own human guinea pig, closely monitoring the changes and was amazed at the difference it made.
This revelation led me to question my relationship with alcohol on a deeper level. It was a wake-up call that extended beyond academic knowledge, making me realise the tangible effects of alcohol on my gut health and, consequently, my cognitive functions.
Week 3: The Sleep Transformation and Squash Revolution
The third week marked a significant turning point. My sleep quality improved dramatically. Gone were the nights of waking up and staying awake for up to three hours. It was a stark contrast to the false sense of relaxation that alcohol used to provide. In reality, it was disrupting my REM sleep, the most restorative phase of sleep.
The improvement in sleep had a ripple effect on my overall well-being, enhancing my focus and decision-making abilities, skills indispensable in my line of work.
But the transformation didn’t stop there.
My weekly game of squash, which used to be a challenge, suddenly became a breeze. My regular squash partner and dear friend couldn’t help but notice the remarkable difference in my game. I was naturally more hydrated, which translated into enhanced skill and agility. It was as if time had slowed down, allowing me to reach the ball with ease. Both physically and mentally, I was levelling up on the court, and it was exhilarating.
Week 4: The Physical Transformation
By the fourth week, the changes were not just internal but visibly externally. I was astounded to find that I had naturally lost 6lbs (approximately 2.7kg) in weight. The bloating that I used to experience had vanished, leaving me with a flatter stomach. My face had a newfound colour, a healthy glow that I hadn’t seen in years.
It became evident that I was reaping the anti-inflammatory benefits of abstaining from alcohol. The absence of alcohol-induced inflammation had a transformative effect on my physical appearance and overall well-being.
The Professional Impact
The journey of quitting alcohol has been enlightening, both personally and professionally. The positive changes in my gut health and cognitive functions have been particularly beneficial in my role as the CEO of companies that focus on food-based health solutions.
My improved memory and stress management skills have enabled me to make more informed decisions, fostering a culture of well-being within my organisations.
The benefits of this journey extended beyond the professional realm and seeped into my personal life. The improvements in focus and stress management at work had a domino effect on my home life. I found myself able to unwind more quickly after a day’s work, which had a positive impact on my relationship with Harriet.
For the first time in years, we could enjoy a night out without the need to include alcohol. It was a liberating experience, one that has enriched both my personal and professional life in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
I now have a much healthier relationship with alcohol. I haven’t quit drinking, I wasn’t an alcoholic it seems, but I did have a bad habit that I no longer have. In the end it was about control, I couldn’t be out of control, so I tested myself and the outcome has been a journey of discovery.
How Alcohol Blocks the Absorption of Nutrients, Vitamins, and Minerals
Alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts, can have a significant impact on your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes fluid loss through increased urination.
This not only leads to dehydration but also flushes out vital nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Furthermore, alcohol interferes with the enzymes in the liver and stomach that are responsible for nutrient absorption and digestion. This reduces your body’s efficiency in metabolising carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Vitamins like B1 (Thiamine), B9 (Folate), and B12 are particularly affected. A deficiency in these vitamins can lead to a range of health issues, including fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and anaemia. The situation is similar for minerals such as calcium and zinc, which play crucial roles in bone health and immune function, respectively.
Supplements to Aid in Reducing Alcohol Consumption
While it’s important to note that supplements are not a substitute for professional medical advice, they can offer some support in reducing alcohol cravings and restoring nutrient balance. Here are some recommendations:
Milk Thistle: Known for its liver-protective qualities, milk thistle may help improve liver function and reduce alcohol-induced damage.
Vitamin B Complex: To replenish the B-vitamins lost due to alcohol consumption, consider a vitamin B complex supplement. This can improve mood and reduce feelings of fatigue.
Magnesium: A magnesium supplement can aid in reducing alcohol cravings and improving mood. It also helps restore the balance of this crucial mineral in your body.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): NAC can be effective in reducing alcohol cravings by regulating the levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter associated with reward pathways.
L-Glutamine: This amino acid can help reduce sugar and alcohol cravings, helping you in the initial stages of quitting alcohol.
Remember that while these supplements can be beneficial, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider for personalised advice, especially if you’re considering combining these supplements with other forms of treatment.
Quitting alcohol is a journey that requires resilience, support, and a good understanding of how it affects your body. By being aware of the nutritional deficiencies caused by alcohol and taking proactive steps to address them, you can make a more informed decision on how to better your health and well-being.
I hope this content not only empowers you with knowledge but also aligns with your best interests and those of your loved ones.