Alcohol withdrawal -Facts about alcohol and withdrawal
Alcohol contains a very large amount of calories. It has 7 calories per gram, following fat which has 9 calories per gram. These calories are more than that found in carbohydrates and proteins; both of which have four calories each per gram. This is why alcoholics feel a very high sense of satisfaction upon consumption.
However, these calories are only “empty” calories, meaning that though alcohol has the ability to make one feel full and satisfied, it does not contain the nutrients needed by the body, hence can lead to a state of malnutrition.
How Alcohol works
Upon consumption, alcohol is absorbed by the small intestine and then broken down by the liver. It reaches the kidney where it is excreted into the urine, thereby increasing the volume of urine.
Dangers of Alcohol
- Drug and alcohol abuse leads to severe damage to the digestive system. This may lead to constant constipation, indigestion, diarrhoea and poor appetite.
During constipation, bowel movements are not as frequent as they should be, and it is difficult to pass stool. Constipation may result from a lack of roughages and dietary fibres which are usually seen in alcoholics.
Poor appetite usually results from the satiety that alcohol produces.
- Due to the damage done to the intestinal lining of the digestive system, absorption (which takes place in the small intestine) of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals is impaired.
- Failure of absorption in turn leads to negative effects on the brain. This is usually observed as addicts lack emotional stability and mental clarity. The brain depends on glucose for several functions such as the production of neurotransmitters and in the absence of glucose, these damages may be observed.
- Alcohol use may also affect the kidneys, as it leads to an increased loss of water in the form of urine, and a reduced ability of the kidneys to filter blood. It suppresses the production of vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) which is responsible for the retention of water and prevention of dehydration.
Alcohol addiction and withdrawal
Addiction does not happen in one day; in the same way, withdrawal is a gradual process that requires time and dedication.
People resort to alcohol use for various reasons, the most common being peer pressure, and depression.
Withdrawal from alcohol usually presents with certain symptoms and will require some dietary approach.
Supplementation with amino acids.
Amino acid such as tryptophan usually helps to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms and improves cognitive function. Cognitive functions are those skills that enhance learning, reasoning, memory, and application of knowledge. Tryptophan is present in so many proteinous foods such as eggs, meat, milk, etc.
Intake of vitamins
Vitamin C helps to prevent extracellular compartments from free radicals attack; free radicals when present can damage cells in the body, DNA, and even proteins. Vitamin C also plays an important role in protecting the neurons and the brain. This also helps to improve cognitive functions.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps to prevent permanent brain damage. Vitamin B complex as a whole is essential in protecting structures found in the brain.
Vitamin B1also helps to prevent the development of Wernicke – Korsakoff psychosis. This disease majorly affects alcoholics and patients may suffer from severe memory impairments, vision impairments, and degeneration of the nervous system. These vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, etc.
Intake of proteins
Proteins of good quality can be derived from fish. Fish also contains omega 3 fats which also helps in improving the functions of the brain and preventing further damage as well as prevent heart disease.
Avoid Intake of Sugar and Caffeine
Sugar and caffeine which is a major constituent of coffee can cause mood swings. Therefore, during the early stages of withdrawal, the intake of both should be avoided to enhance healing.
Avoid Processed foods
Usually, when foods are excessive, many important nutrients are lost in the process; hence to ensure a healthy diet, processed foods should be avoided. Generally, because of the poor appetite alcoholics express, there is a need to improve their nutrition and educate individuals on the need to maintain a healthy diet.
Avoiding consumption and addiction is much easier than withdrawal, this is why they say that prevention is better than cure. However, alcoholics have a wide range of therapies that may help them stop alcohol intake and return to normal.
Withdrawal from alcohol is usually gradual and may take some time, but usually yields results if followed thoroughly.