• Ann Taylor

Alcohol is NOT your friend

The stress that many people are feeling with this evolving COVID-19 contagion, mandatory self-isolation and fearfulness about the future may lead many people to numb their brains and emotions with more alcohol and more streamed entertainment – good business for bottle shops and Netflix and the like, but at what risk to your health?

credit: Gunasekara F (nd)

Alcohol abuse in particular is a very risky habit, and it’s a tragedy that society is so tolerant of high levels of alcohol consumption, including in teenagers. This week I have heard of teenage children asking their parents to stock up on alcoholic drinks for them for the shut downs/lock downs and parents stocking up on their choice of alcohol, typically for women, lots of wine boxes! If that’s your choice, you’re likely to emerge much worse off at the end of this period AND, by the way, suppressing your immune system and compromising your ability to fight off a viral infection, including acute inflammation of the lung (Gunasekara F, nd).

There are serious potential risks from alcohol abuse. In addition to direct toxic effects on our liver, alcohol causes changes in our gut microbiota leading to increased gut permeability that allows more endotoxins to enter our blood stream exacerbating toxic effects on our liver resulting in more liver inflammation (Wang etal, 2012). If you have a permeable gut aka “leaky gut” your blood brain barrier is likely also permeable, allowing toxins into your brain, leading to brain inflammation. Gunasekara (nd) provides an easy to read useful review of systematic deleterious effects of alcohol. If you are not yet an alcoholic, do you want yourself or your children to develop this awful disease of addiction?

It’s your choice, your responsibility to keep yourself as well as possible during these challenging times. It’s an opportunity to change bad habits for good.

To be helpful, I’d like to pass on a way to calm stressed nerves (sympathetic nervous system) , to bring your attention into your body in the now, with thanks to Dr Nirola Jacobi (the SIBO Doctor) and credit to Elizabeth Gilbert who authored Eat Pray Love:

Wherever you are, in sequence, focus on each of your senses as you

Think of FIVE things you can SEE

Think of FOUR things you can FEEL

Think of THREE things you can HEAR

Think of TWO things you can SMELL

Think of ONE thing you can TASTE

My very occasional cold beer after a satisfying hot, sweaty or grubby day of garden work has been replaced by a herb tea or chai tea, made by crushing and infusing real wholes spices (without the very high sugar content of commercial chai spice mixes). A rare glass of wine while preparing dinner has been replaced by apple cider vinegar and a tad of honey in a glass of water or a herbal cordial as a digestive aid. My for-as-long-as-I can-remember nightcap has been a rooibos or chamomile tea.

For your health sake, find some alcohol-free rituals that will settle your nerves, not dull your brain.


Gunasekara F, nd, “Alcohol – the Body and Health Effects. A brief overview”, prepared for Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (Alac),

Wang Y etal, 2012, “Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG culture supernatant ameliorates acute alcohol-induced intestinal permeability and liver injury”, Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Jul 1; 303(1): G32–G41, viewed 26 March 2020,