The short answer is yes. Consuming alcohol is not healthy for women who are going through menopause.
I understand, the kids are grown and gone, and you have the freedom and space to eat and drink and relax as you want. And for some of you a glass of wine, or two and some dark chocolate or your favorite sweet treat are exactly what will do the trick to remind you of your new impeding freedom and a job well done as you enter into the second half of your life.
But not so fast. Not so fast if you are 50 years old or older and or have hit the dreaded menopausal state of being. Studies, unfortunately, show an increase in alcohol consumption, and really any alcohol consumption at all, which I will address in a moment, has a more negative effect and could even be considered a risky health habit, during or after menopause than before menopause. And why is that? Well to begin with, menopausal women don’t need any further issues complicating or undermining metabolism, they’ve been hit with enough.
And here’s why.
A decline in estrogen production in the ovaries causes the body to focus on converting calories to fat.
Declining testosterone makes it more difficult to build muscle, and the less muscle you have, the fewer calories you will burn and the less calories you burn at rest.
Low thyroid is also common in menopausal women and can also contribute to a slower metabolism.
Excess cortisol from stress tells your body to conserve calories, especially as belly fat.
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and low in, or non-existent in any redeeming health benefits. Therefore, when consumed your body has no use for it from a nutritional viewpoint or use.
To your body, alcohol is basically a poison. Alcohol cannot be stored or used like other types of food or like a nutrient, therefore, your body wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible through your detoxicating pathways in the liver. To make this happen, other metabolic processes such as fat oxidation take a back seat to alcohol metabolism. Your metabolism stops processing fats and sugars as efficiently as it should to detox the alcohol first, and, over time, this will lead to a storage of these sugars and fat and lead to weight gain.
Let’s talk about blood sugar and how you think alcohol relaxes you before bedtime.
Alcohol is not a depressant, it is not a sedative or a relaxant, or a depressant at all, it is a stimulant due to the nature of how it raises the blood sugar levels. Yes, you may feel sleepy or relaxed after consumption but shortly thereafter, your blood sugar raises. It raises and drops during your sleep, therefore interrupting your natural sleep cycle. This prevents you from entering into REM sleep and deep sleep necessary to rejuvenate and heal the brain and body.
Under normal menopausal circumstances, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms interfere with sleep in general, the quality of sleep, and the quantity of sleep. A lack of sleep contributes to this excess cortisol, therefore, adding to the problem of metabolism. When you suffer from sleep deprivation, your food choices are not always sound. We gravitate to food that makes us “feel better” by giving us a serotonin boost, like carbohydrates, processed carbs specifically. This too impacts metabolism and fat storage. Drinking alcohol impacts this process even further. You have detoxing problems, and you have blood sugar issues impacting sleep. Blood sugar irregularities are connected to women’s hormonal health problems that can further lead to disease. This is why alcohol during and after menopause increases your risk for women’s cancer, breast cancer specifically. Alcohol consumption damages tissues, causes oxidative stress to cells, limits the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, and promotes an increase in estrogen levels. An increase in estrogen levels interferes with detoxing pathways in the liver that aid in the methylation of estrogen, estrogen recirculating creates a problem of excess estrogen in addition to estrogen dominance, both connected to a higher risk in breast cancer diagnosis.
There are many factors to consider when looking at your health. Most women who are going through menopause don't even realize how much nutrition has to do with their menopause symptoms. As Your Healthy Concepts Nutritional Consultant, I can help you put a plan in motion that will restore balance.
I have extensive experience and am a Board Certified Nutritional Consultant as well as a Board Certified Natural Health Practitioner. Menopause is inevitable for women. But there's hope! Natural options that treat menopause symptoms and bring balance to your mind, body & emotions.
Contact Cami at Your Healthy Concepts for a Consultation today. Virtual, phone and in-person visits are available. Let's work together and implement a plan to help you win your battle with Menopause.
Cami Grasher Board Certified Nutritional Consultant Board Certified Natural Health Practitioner