Alcohol can lead to malnutrition

Excessive consumption of alcohol affects more than just one’s ability to think, speak and move – it also has lasting effects on the nutritional resources in the body.

Alcohol abuse creates an internal environment that predisposes individuals to malnutrition. Alcohol must be processed by the digestive system, which creates competition for limited nutritional resources that would normally nourish the body.

For example:

The alcohol-nutrient connection

One way alcohol consumption can affect nutrition status is by displacing healthier foods from the diet. Alcohol has a caloric value of seven calories/gram (more than either protein or carbohydrate at four calories/gram), but contains no vitamins, minerals, protein, fat or carbohydrate.

Excessive alcohol consumption can satisfy caloric requirements, but easily leads to malnutrition and anemia. Although alcohol in small doses is an appetite stimulant, larger amounts suppress hunger, which doubly deprives the body of nutrients.

Frequent or problem alcohol use has serious nutritional implications that affect the overall health of the body. Alcohol uses valuable resources that the body needs to perform other essential functions. Alcohol displaces calories from nutrient-dense food with calories that contain zero nutrition, so body weight is not an indicator of good nutrition in those that consume alcohol to excess. It is likely that individuals who drink regularly will need nutritional monitoring by a professional to avoid possible long-term or irreversible damage to their health.