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Forward for Special Pre-Publication Edition
for the Medical Profession

The Prevention of Alcoholism Through Nutrition (1981)

To Medical Professionals:
The Alcoholism Problem As Seen By
One Who Appreciates the Intricacies
of the Nutritional Process


Some people are highly vulnerable to alcoholism while others are not. There is nothing unusual about this. This is true of many other diseases--diabetes, heart attacks, ulcers, tuberculosis, arthritis, and many minor troubles like graying of hair and balding.

So far as nutrition is concerned there are two basic facts to be considered. First, the cells and tissues of our bodies require a complete environment in order to live and thrive. Oxygen is needed minute by minute. We have some storage capacity for water and many other items so we do not have to replenish our supply so often. At the beginning of this century we knew very little about what our bodies needed. Now we know there are over 40 distinct chemical substances (minerals, trace minerals, amino acids and vitamins) each of which is absolutely essential to our lives, and if our cells and tissues are to function well these must be obtained environmentally in about the right amounts. Secondly, because of the complexity of this inner environment and the many balances which must be maintained, practically speaking there is no such thing as perfect nutrition. Our bodies are adaptable and many people, including those in America, live their entire lives getting nutrition of only mediocre quality. Ideal or perfect nutrition is out of the question.

When a vulnerable person starts to consume alcohol, he or she does not start at the highest nutritional level but more probably from basically poor or mediocre nutrition. The drinking of alcohol thus tends to make poor or mediocre nutrition even poorer. If drinking becomes regular, and especially if it becomes heavy, the internal environment (IE) of the cells and tissues of the body deteriorates seriously for two reasons: first, consuming alcohol crowds out of the diet many important life-giving chemicals, and secondly, because alcohol itself in higher concentrations is poisonous, it pollutes the internal environment in our bodies. When heavy drinking continues, one’s IE becomes worse and worse and many regulating physiological and psychological processes controlled by the brain and the nervous system fail to operate successfully. In the hypothalamus of the brain there are appetite regulating mechanisms which become impaired. Normally people desire food and nourishment, and the mechanisms in our bodies operate to satisfy our needs. When, however, a person becomes addicted to alcohol these mechanisms are deranged and the individual may become nauseated by the sight or smell of food. Only alcohol is attractive, and it can satisfy only temporarily.

What we all need to learn is that our IE’s are all-important, and that these inner environments need to be built up rather than depleted. Very few people, if any, can afford the "luxury" of immoderate drinking at any time. Heavy drinking always precedes alcoholism.

We need to attack the problem of alcoholism long before it becomes an accomplished fact. Even before alcoholism presents itself as a possibility people should do several things which will not only head off alcoholism but help prevent many other ill health disasters. People should (l) eat more sensibly, (2) moderate their consumption of alcohol, (3) take regular exercise, (4) get adequate sleep and (5) build up a wholesome attitude toward life. Building up one’s IE involves and reinforces all of these measures.

A crucial question is this: When does one or when should one learn about the importance of IE’s? The sooner the better. If one learns this as a youngster and is taught to regard his or her body as a temple of God, this is excellent; if one learns this before drinking patterns are established, this is good, if one does not learn this until after he or she has become an alcoholic, this is bad. Even worse is never to learn it at all.

The importance of IE’s in the prevention of alcoholism does not in any way deny the importance of psychology. We seldom emphasize, as we should, the importance of the nourishment of brain cells. That on the average brain cells are often poorly nourished is indicated by the fact that brain cells die at the rate of about 2000 per hour even in supposedly healthy adults. This is an average estimate. In alcoholics, brain cells must die off much faster; the brains of alcoholics after death often cannot be used by medical students for dissection because they may have largely turned into structureless mush. It seems obvious that the brains and the brain cells have a great deal to do with alcoholism and psychology of alcoholism.

Our bodies are marvelously built, but they are not compartmentalized. Anatomy, microanatomy, physiology, biochemistry, endocrinology, emotions and drives are all closely intertwined. If we guard and build up our IE’s, we have taken a long step forward in bettering ourselves. Preventing alcoholism is only one phase of a grand scheme for human betterment.

Roger J. Williams

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