Monday, April 16, 2012

Alcohol

The dermatologist who diagnosed my skin problem as psoriasis told me that diet does not affect psoriasis, then in the next sentence he told me that alcohol affects it badly. Those statements by a medical man were what started me on the road to finding diet answers for myself. Eventually I would have to test the alcohol comment as well.

In South Africa the legal drinking age is 18. I have never been a big drinker but in my late teens and early 20s I did have a few binges with friends who were much heavier regular drinkers than I was. After my bachelor party I was not able to drink beer for a decade without feeling nauseous. I drank spirits and mixers until beer again became palatable.

By the time that psoriasis started, I was racing offshore sailboats twice a week, with every race ending in the yacht club bar. I was also on yacht club and sailing administration committees, with every meeting also ending in the yacht club bar. Not heavy drinking but 2 or 3 beers each time added up to quite a few.

Remembering what the dermatologist told me, I eventually decided to test it. I changed my orders from beer to soda, completely eliminating alcohol. The response by my body was pretty quick.

I expected to see a slow improvement in my skin but I was wrong. Instead of a slow improvement I saw a rapid decline. After a week or two I went back to beer and eliminated the soda. My skin improved again. A couple of weeks later I followed the same process again, with the same result.

I did not prove that beer is good for my skin, I proved that soda is a lot worse for me than beer is. I guess that is not surprising, considering all of the junk ingredients that are in sodas and are dumped into the human body at every opportunity.

I have never gone off alcohol completely, I keep it at a very low level. I very seldom have more than two beers in any one day and most days I don't have any. I sometimes have a glass or two of sherry or port and never have any skin reaction that is strong enough for me to see any difference. Maybe if I were a heavy drinker the reaction would be strong enough for me to see the difference. At my low level of alcohol consumption it does not appear to make any difference.

I was lucky enough to have a great grandfather to appreciate well into my childhood. One of his favourite sayings was "Everything in moderation, including moderation". I don't remember what his regular tipple was but he enjoyed a glass after meals and when friends or family visited. He passed on while dozing peacefully after a good meal. I picked up on the "everything in moderation" part of his philosophy and try to apply that to all aspects of my diet.