Olive Oil Reduces Alcohol Effects

Olive oil never stops surprising. This time it is about the negative effects of alcohol consumption. By adding olive oil to your diet, you are more likely to reduce alcohol effects… Whether you drink more than two servings of alcohol weekly, monthly, yearly or hopefully not daily, be sure to have some extra virgin olive oil so your liver won’t hate you.

What happens when drinking alcohol?

Even if a moderate consumption of alcohol has positive health benefits, alcohol should be considered a recreation drug and never be consumed in excess. High alcohol consumption may cause heart disease, liver disease, cancer (mouth and liver), pancreatitis, depression and much more. When somebody drinks, some of the alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and the rest (the greatest part) by the small intestine. Afterwards, it enters the bloodstream. At the same time the body is fighting to remove it. A small part of alcohol is removed in the urine and breath but most of it, by the liver. The liver breaks down the alcohol in a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde and oxygen containing molecules that are highly reactive and damaging. These compounds interfere with the normal metabolism of other nutrients, especially lipids and contribute to liver cell damage. Chronic drinkers have deficiency in many essential nutrients such as amino acids, proteins, and certain vitamins. These deficits can derive from an inappropriate diet or/and from alcohol’s effects on these nutrients and their metabolism. The faster the body breaks down the alcohol and removes it, the better. The effects of alcohol on the body depend on blood alcohol levels. Therefore, reduced alcohol degradation may lead to more severe damages to the liver and other organs.

How to reduce the bad effects of alcohol?

Researches show that underfed drinkers break down the alcohol slower than well fed subjects. Therefore, to reduce alcohol effects, even moderate alcohol consumption should be accompanied by a good healthy diet. Heavy drinkers have deficiency in vitamin B complex, C, A, calcium and iron and other nutrients. Administration of antioxidants can help the body eliminate reactive oxygen molecules and other reactive molecules generated from abnormal lipid breakdown. Also, the type of fats consumed is of high importance. Polyunsaturated fats are more susceptible of lipid peroxidation caused by alcohol breakdown and medium-chain triglycerides may reduce the alcoholic fatty liver while long-chain triglycerides increase the risk.

How can olive oil reduce alcohol effects?

  • Olive oil consists of medium-chain-triglycerides which significantly reduce alcoholic fatty liver, while long-chain triglycerides promote it (Lieber). This difference probably results from the fact that they are more likely to be broken down in the body than long–chain triglycerides and therefore are less likely to be deposited in the liver. Since it is not readily absorbed or stored in the adipose tissue of the body, olive oil does not contribute to overweight.

  • Olive oil is a highly monounsaturated fat which is not sensitive to lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation refers to the oxidative degradation of lipids and it is also the consequence of high consumption of alcohol. It most often affects polyunsaturated fatty acids, because they contain multiple double bonds in between that possess especially reactive hydrogen molecules.
  • Olive oil has in its composition vitamin A (retinol) which is a required for patients with cirrhosis.
  • It also has B complex vitamins in small amounts.
  • Extra virgin olive oil contains natural antioxidants that will reduce the alcohol–induced oxidative stress in the liver cells.
  • Another important antioxidant is vitamin E. Alcoholics with cirrhosis often have low vitamin E levels in the liver.
  • Olive oil is very well tolerated by the stomach. It activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed medicines.
  • Olive oil has also natural chlorophyll which helps the body to take the toxins out of the blood.

And now let’s have a look on the statistics. In Spain medium alcohol consumption Per Capita in 2003-2005 according to World Health Organization was 11.6, in Italy 10.7 litres and Greece 10.8 litres. In the same period Germany had a consumption of 12.8 litres, Denmark 13.4, Poland 13.3 and France 13.4 litres. The difference in consumption is not great, but the difference in death rate caused by alcohol is. While in the Mediterranean Countries, and we refer to all Mediterranean, the death rate is very low, in the rest of the countries, Eastern or Western as well, the death rate is very high. If in Greece with 10.8 litres per capita the death rate is 0.3 per 100000 citizens, in Germany, with 12.8 litres, the death rate caused by alcohol is 3.9.

Please note that statistics can offer data for orientation, they do not provide 100% accuracy since different factors can lead to a specific result.

This article is based on correlation between different studies about alcohol, nutrition, types of fats and their effects, therapy for alcoholism and olive oil composition.

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