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Alcohol drinking and binge drinking are driven by powerful nutritional influences. For almost all heavy drinkers and alcoholics, changing nutritional habits can make it easier to control drinking habits, and alcoholics can use diet to avoid falling off the wagon. Here are 10 principles of nutrition every problem drinker needs to know.
1. Sugar drives alcohol consumption.
Increasing blood sugar levels makes it easier for the liver to clear alcohol out of the bloodstream. As both blood sugar levels and blood alcohol levels fall, people who have a problem with alcohol begin to crave both alcohol and sugar. Consuming either substance alone creates a craving for the other. Avoiding alcohol helps sugar addicts avoid sugar, and avoiding sugar, even if it takes a lot of willpower, helps alcohol addicts avoid alcohol.
2. High-fructose corn syrup is especially problematic for heavy drinkers.
High-fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten soft drinks, candies, baked goods, fruit juices, cereals, and bread. High-fructose corn syrup is only "high" in fructose. It's not 100% fructose. The other sugar in the mix is glucose. The problem high-fructose corn syrup for alcoholics and other problem drinkers is that it prolongs the "sugar high" that comes from eating too many sweets, and it deepens the "sugar crash" that inevitably follows. Pure table sugar, while not recommended for anyone, can cause fewer problems for alcoholics.
3. A banana daiquiri or a Bloody Mary can make you drunker faster.
Bananas and tomatoes contain unusually large amounts of naturally occurring serotonin. These two plants (and also walnuts) make the same antidepressant chemical that is found in the human brain and also in the lining of the digestive tract. When you consume a banana daiquiri or a Bloody Mary, you give the lining of your digestive tract a dose of a natural antidepressant. Besides increasing the likelihood of diarrhea and gas, the natural serotonin causes the drink to pass out of your stomach faster so the alcohol it contains is absorbed into your stomach faster.
4. Certain protein foods help your brain make pleasure chemicals similar to those it makes in response to alcohol.
The brain makes a number of different reward chemicals that give a feeling of satisfaction, of not needing to drink or eat or play to feel good. One of these chemicals is enkephalin, which is made in greater abundance when the brain has an adequate supply of the amino acid D-phenylalanine. You don't necessarily have to take a phenylalanine supplement or eat a high-phenylalanine food every time you drink, but it's a good idea to eat egg whites, tofu, seaweeds, pork skins, or cheese on a regular basis to provide your brain with phenylalanine.