Alcoholics often have poor nutrition. Three groups of people were studied for this project as follows: patients with alcoholic pancreatitis, alcoholics without organ disease such as liver disease, and healthy people who never drink alcohol. (The second group was of people who were not actively drinking.) Forty-eight male patients were studied by diet, blood chemistries and blood markers of inflammation. The patients were measured for body fat, lean body mass, serum fats and lipids, C-reactive protein (test of inflammation), and certain minerals and vitamins.
The rule used for alcohol addiction in this study was an intake of over 100 g. ethanol per week (over two drinks four times a week). The patient diets were surveyed by a registered dietitian, and diabetic patients were fed an American Diabetes Association diet. In the group without pancreatitis, 100% of the daily need for calories was provided by alcohol.
Bioelectrical resistance testing was used to study the patient’s body fat composition. The two groups of alcoholics studied were both shown to have reduced lean body mass, but well-maintained body fat. The results were in terms of total body water, fat-free mass and body fat. High electrical resistance is seen in both alcoholic groups with high levels of fat tissues, low BMI*, and low body water. Body fat was elevated in comparison to lean body mass. Obesity was not a problem since people who drank more had less body fat.
Blood testing included the following: hemoglobin, albumin, liver and pancreas enzymes, lipids, iron, zinc, phosphate, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. Blood tests of nutritional levels were somewhat normal except for some high blood sugars and low magnesium in chronic hepatitis. There was increased total and LDL-cholesterol in alcoholics without organ disease. The presence of pancreatitis masks the abnormal serum body fats and cardiovascular disease risk due to abnormal blood values seen in pancreatitis. Magnesium deficiency is common in alcoholics, and there is some evidence that treatment with magnesium relieves the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Inflammation testing included white blood count and C-reactive protein, and high markers of inflammation were seen in those people with pancreatitis. Low levels of the vitamin B complex and vitamin D are common in alcoholics.
CONCLUSION: Alcoholics were shown to be undernourished with low lean body mass, magnesium deficiency, vitamin B and D deficiencies, abnormal lipids, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This is true even though the patient does not have pancreatitis. These problems continued even in patients who were not actively drinking at the time of testing.
NOTE: *BMI (body-mass index) is a ratio of weight to height. A low BMI is said to put a person at risk for osteoporosis and dementia, while a high BMI puts a person at risk for diabetes.
Summary #977. nutrientmedicine