alcoholism and carb consumption

In my reading through Primal Body – Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas I came to the chapter talking about Carbohydrate Metabolism, 101 (p.135). On page 140 the book spends about 5 paragraphs talking about alcoholics and their addiction. 

Notable bits:

  • Most if not all alcoholics have severe issues with dysglycemia (disturbed blood sugar regulation) and sugar addiction
  • Alcoholics regularly seek fast sources of sugar
  • Alcohol provides the fastest source of sugar
  • The problem in alcoholism is severe carbohydrate addiction
  • Even if an alcoholic is able to get off of alcohol, their environment often continues to exacerbate the underlying cause, carb/sugar addiction (donuts at the AA meetings)
  • Recovering alcoholics often relentlessly crave sweets and rely on stimulants like coffee or nicotine to keep blood sugar elevated.

The author also spends a few sentences talking about our bodies need for steady fuel and she likens it to fueling a fire:

  • Grains and legumes are the equivalent of “twigs”
  • Starches and simple carbs like cereal and potatoes are the equivalent of “paper”
  • Alcohol is the equivalent of “gasoline”

All of these sources of energy burn out quickly, thus requiring more to be added to the fire. Gasoline and paper go up almost instantly and twigs burn a little longer but not long enough to adequately sustain the flame. Hence the reason conventional diet advice recommends several small meals throughout the day, around 5 or 6 meals eaten every 2-3 hours. Our main fuel sources burn off quickly so we must continually eat to keep our body functioning.

One might get a burst of a ball of flame with respect to energy from many carbohydrate sources, but no one can get long-term, sustainable energy. As soon as the flame starts to die out, which doesn’t take long, you’re stuck with cravings for fuel or stimulants again. It can be quite a roller coaster ride. (p. 141)

So what is the best fuel option for sustained energy? Fat. 

Dietary fat, in the absence of carbohydrates, however, is like putting a nice big “log” on the fire. Fat’s flame burns at a regular, even rate and is easily kept going. Protein, consumed in moderate quantities, is mainly diverted toward structural repair and maintenance. 

I’m loving how things are coming full circle for me. Alcoholism has had a hold on my family for several generations now. I have not had a problem with over-consuming alcohol but I have definitely had a problem with the over-consumption of carbohydrates and sugar. Alcohol would be a natural progression.

A few years ago I found myself trying Overeaters Anonymous (OA), with success I might add. There are diet programs that key off of the principles of OA and basically recommend cutting all sugars and stimulants from your diet. There’s usually a push for whole foods though they do make allowances for potatoes and whole grains. 

This explains a lot for me and I know now that making these changes to primal eating will serve to protect me from the possibility of alcoholism in the future. Now I’m wondering how well received this information would be by family members wrestling with alcoholism.

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