Alcohol addiction and sugar

Those placed on nutrient-rich diets along with multivitamin supplementation have high success rates in abstaining from alcohol.

by Paula Owens — 

In the United States, there are 17 to 20 million alcoholics — or about one in every 10 people. One-third of Americans are heavy drinkers (50 percent consuming more than 14 drinks weekly). Alcoholics are more prone to disease and accidents than the rest of the population and tend to die young.

The problem of alcoholism is tied to the problem of nutrition, in general. The root cause of alcohol cravings is a deficiency of B vitamins, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, and neurotransmitter and amino acid deficiencies, specifically L-glutamine, L-tyrosine, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and methionine.

The primary (master) neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. GABA can also be considered in this group. Every biochemical process in the human body depends on appropriate levels of these neurotransmitters, which exist throughout the body; in fact, only five percent of serotonin is found in the brain. Serotonin is the primary gut neurotransmitter, with close to 90 percent located in the gut. Genetically, low serotonin levels may predispose individuals to alcoholism.

Some health practitioners find that alcoholics improve greatly when grains are removed from their diets. A study found that over 80 percent of alcoholics are gluten-sensitive and often suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and blood sugar instability. They may experience sugar and carbohydrate cravings, mood swings/irritability, alcohol cravings, gluten intolerance and adrenal fatigue.

These conditions can all be corrected by eating a nutrient-rich diet of vegetables, fruits and protein from organic sources, and eliminating gluten, dairy, soy and processed foods. The best diet for the alcoholic is one that is high in B vitamins, devoid of all processed grains and sugars, and rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and high-protein foods such as organic eggs, meat and fish.

Alcoholics tend to lack alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme in the stomach that breaks down and rids the body of alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. This implies deficiencies in magnesium and zinc, as well as an overload on the pancreas — all of which can be improved by nutritious and enzyme-rich foods.

Women are physiologically more sensitive to alcohol than men because their bodies have a lower water content and higher fat content. Alcohol abuse seems to have more serious long-term consequences for women, although excessive alcohol especially affects men and their estrogen levels through liver damage. Abuse means enlarged breasts, reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, reduced testosterone production and shrunken testes.

Former alcoholics often replace alcoholic drinks with sweets and sodas without realizing that sugar plays havoc with the intestinal flora, fostering overgrowth of candida and other fungi. Under certain conditions, these pathogenic yeasts actually convert sugars in the gut into alcohol.

Walk into almost any AA meeting and you will find candy, cakes and cookies. Some alcoholics will even convert the sugar to alcohol metabolically and maintain their alcohol addiction in this way. There are well-documented cases of inebriation caused by sugar consumption and candida overgrowth in persons who do not drink alcohol. The alcoholic, in turning to sugar, is often supplying himself with alcohol throughout the day. More than 76 percent of alcoholics have a genetic disorder that prohibits them from metabolizing alcohol.

Restricting sugar and eliminating caffeine help to reduce alcohol cravings. When alcoholics are placed on diets high in raw foods, many spontaneously avoid alcohol. Those placed on nutrient-rich diets along with multivitamin supplementation have high success rates in abstaining from alcohol.

Joan Larson, director of the Health Recovery Center in Minneapolis and author of Seven Weeks to Sobriety, has compiled astonishing statistics after designing a program that utilized nutrition as the foundation of alcoholic recovery. One hundred alcoholic clients, chosen at random, were followed for 3.5 years after completing the program. At discharge (seven weeks), 85 percent were free of anxiety, 94 percent claimed they had no sleep problems, 98 percent did not experience any shakiness, 95 percent were free from dizziness and 95 percent were subjectively depression-free. At the six-month interview, 92 percent were abstinent from alcohol, 85 percent of whom had remained continually abstinent since treatment.

The four powers — nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and supplements — may be the best approach to changing body chemistry. A diet rich in proteins (chicken, beef, eggs, lamb, turkey, fish), vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains (rice, millet, quinoa and buckwheat), nuts and seeds, and plenty of water, along with green and white tea is an excellent place to start. Hippocrates had it right: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

U.S. alcoholism statistics

  • An estimated 43 percent of adults have someone related to them who is presently, or has been, an alcoholic.
  •  3 million citizens older than 60 abuse alcohol.
  • 6.6 million minors live with an alcoholic mother or father.
  • More than 50 percent of adults have someone in their immediate family with an alcohol problem.
  • Approximately one-quarter of all children experience some form of alcoholism in their families before they turn 18.
  • People who live with an alcoholic take 10 times the amount of sick leave than individuals who are not exposed to alcoholism.
  • 40 percent of alcoholism is passed down through the gene pool, while the other 60 percent stems from unknown causes.
  • A staggering 500,000 U.S. children aged 9 to 12 are addicted to alcohol.
  • One out of every five alcoholics who attempts to stop drinking without medical intervention ends up dying as a result of alcohol withdrawal delirium.

Resource: “Alcoholism Research: Delivering on the Promise,” Goodwin FK, Public Health Reports, November-December 1988;103(6):569-574.


Paula Owens holds a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She is a nutritionist, fitness and weight loss expert, and the author of The Power of 4. 480-706-1158, or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2010.

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