Counseling Sheet

Effect of Diet on Consumption of Alcohol

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

There are certain habits of life that are known to increase the thirst for alcohol, and tend to initiate its use in the young. The types of food one eats are prominent on the list of things that cause a craving for a drink. Several animal studies indicate that the taste for 10% alcohol is easily controlled by the diet fed the animal. In one laboratory, rats were fed a diet typical of many Americans. When the rats were given the choice of water or 10% alcohol solution, they chose to drink five times more alcohol solution than a paired group of rats fed a milk vegetable control diet.

After stabilizing the diet for 10 weeks, the rats on the popular U. S. diet were consuming an average of over 40 ml. of 10% alcohol per 100 gm. body weight per week. They were switched to the milk-vegetable diet. Within one week, the alcohol consumption had decreased to less than 5 ml., instead of 40 ml. as previously. In 3 weeks, the rats had almost completely stopped drinking alcohol. Then the popular U.S. diet was resumed. Within 4 weeks they were back up to 40 ml. On certain diets, the alcohol consumption could be doubled by simply adding coffee, and quadrupled when both coffee and spices were added.

Following is a typical study:

Group 1: used alcohol as 52% of fluids:

Diet: Sweet rolls, apple pie, doughnuts, green beans, hot dog, chopped salad, mustard, chocolate cake, pickle relish, candy bar, spaghetti and meat balls, cookies, coffee, coke, French bread, and eleven common spices

Group 2: used alcohol as 18% of fluids:

Diet: Standard commercial laboratory chow

Group 3: used alcohol as 2.2% of fluids

Diet: Vegetarian diet

It has been well-known for several decades that certain B-vitamin deficiencies will lead to irritability, confusion, persecution complex, emotional instability, or an inability to adjust to conflicting situations. It is now possible, on the basis of both population studies and laboratory experimentation, to state that such frequently used items as coffee, tea, spices, and sugars can increase the consumption of alcohol. Animal studies, other than the one described above, indicate a similar association between a stimulating but poor diet and a willingness to use tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco both increase the excretion of vitamin B1 in the urine. It could be this factor is associated in the metabolic conditions causing cravings.

It has been observed by many that persons who use vegetarian diets are not fond of wines and strong drink. We can now list several items that will help the alcoholic free himself from his craving for alcohol: Abstinence from coffee, colas, tea, and refined sugar; country life and physical labor; total abstinence from tobacco; and a balanced diet, free from spices.

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