Alcohol, Hormones, and Metabolic Health


Alcohol is probably the single most common variable contributing to difficulty losing weight and hormone imbalance. So many of my patients live a clean lifestyle with organic eating, low sugar intake, healthy amounts of exercise, and meditation BUT may also drink 2-3 drinks 3-5x/week.

They do not feel as good as they want and many struggle with hormonal imbalances and difficulty losing weight. Women cannot tolerate alcohol as well as men, especially after the age of 35, due to our bodies having more fat and less water.

Even where we are in our menstrual cycle can affect how we metabolize hormones. Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects our hormones and metabolic health.

Here is what we know about alcohol:

  • Disrupts estrogen metabolism
  • Increases cortisol
  • Interferes with sleep 
  • Contribute to insulin resistance
  • Blocks fat burning
  • Lowers Growth Hormone
  • Neurotoxic (no safe upper limit of alcohol when it comes to brain health)
  • Burdens the liver
  • Causes a high amount of sugar to travel to the liver, if more sugar is present than can be used, it gets turned into fat within the liver.
  • More than 2 drinks/week increases risk of developing breast cancer
  • Alcohol increases the risk of several other cancers too: liver, esophageal, colon, larynx, oral cancer, and pharyngeal too.

Here’s what I suggest, take an honest assessment of your relationship with alcohol. There can be a time for alcohol – a special occasion, a night out. The issue I see a lot, however, is that my patients can be very social and go out several nights a week.

Overall, my recommendation is to limit it to less than 3-drinks a week. But if you are struggling with hormone imbalance or difficulty losing weight, I encourage you to do a 3-week elimination of alcohol combined with our 3-week RESET program. The extra liver support and clean eating can help facilitate weight loss and promote hormonal balance and reset the palate and your body.

It can make it much easier switching to drinking on certain social occasions or even limiting to 2 drinks a week. It’s an opportunity to become ok with ordering another, non-alcoholic drink, like sparkling water with lemon.

I am not against alcohol, but we need to understand and appreciate the effects it can be having on our hormones and our metabolic health. The more we understand how alcohol affects our body, the more empowered we become to make the best choices for our body.


Maggie Ney, ND



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