Are you having the occasional drink with friends or perhaps a glass of wine is a regular feature of your evenings?
Let's examine what effect this might be having on your female hormones. We all know that keeping our hormones in balance keeps us on an even keel and contributes to our happiness!
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What is more important than eating well and exercising? Sleep of course.
Studies show us that alcohol consumption disrupts the circadian rhythm and knocks our sleep patterns out. Have you noticed that when you are not sleeping your hormonal cycle plays up? Do you experience more PMS, irritability and reach for the sugary foods to pick you up resulting in hormonal acne? This is just touching on how alcohol affects our health and hormones.
Alcohol slows the removal of toxins from our body by impairing healthy detoxification.
Our body is detoxifying every minute of every day and we absolutely NEED this process to happen. Certain toxins such as alcohol (it is in itself a toxin) impair your body's ability to do this.
The result of sluggish detoxification might be a recycling of hormones (normally broken down by your liver) which puts you in a tricky relative oestrogen dominant position. We don't want to go there! Think risks of fibroids and breast cancer. Even just one drink per day can increase your risk of breast cancer.
Alcohol is estimated to be the sole cause of at least 8% of breast cancers. Check your family history for breast cancer and if it is prevalent for you. If it is, then the safest amount of alcohol for you to drink is likely none.
During perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) we are particularly susceptible to hormonal shifts and alcohol can play a huge role in throwing this out. Here are some of the areas that alcohol can take effect on.
Damages the gut microbiome
Promotes intestinal permeability (AKA 'leaky gut')
May activate histamine and immune cells when we don't need them activated
If you are beginning to get gut symptoms and react to foods that you never used to then take a look at your alcohol consumption.
It is a true fact that alcohol actually shrinks the brain!
Our hippocampus or stress-response part of the brain shrinks with alcohol consumption and sends our stress through the roof. This is not the time to mess with our calming mechanisms as perimenopause is already a time when your brain-adrenal axis is recalibrating.
Have you heard of the 'munchies' after drinking?
Alcohol will stimulate your appetite so it is too easy to over-eat and gain weight.
From a scientific view, alcohol consumption causes a temporary rise in oestrogen and testosterone and a decrease in IGF-1 (a substance that promotes fertility). These imbalances after drinking may be the cause for changes in your cycle.
The alcohol industry might like you to believe that drinking daily is beneficial to your health. This is not true. Alcohol has no health benefits for us as women and has no benefit towards your hormones or breast cancer risk.
If you are regularly drinking and wish to stop, speak to your naturopath about support with the process.
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