January 5, 2015
Alright folks, this is officially it. Sit back, grab a bottle of booze and get ready to be entertained. Exactly 30 days ago, I told you all about one lucky guy named Jason Sissel, who volunteered to guinea pig himself by quitting alcohol cold turkey and doing before and after blood tests with WellnessFX.
You can click here to read Part 1, in which you get to see how messed up Jason was from his daily habit of a few glasses of wine, mixed in with some beer and hard alcohol here and there. You can also click here to read Jason's blog post “30 Days, No Alcohol Biohack–Thoughts at the Midpoint”.
And now, in Part 2, I'm going to reveal exactly what happened to Jason's internal biology over the past 30 days. Enjoy, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below the article!
Finally, if you'd like to run your own 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment, you can order your two Baseline blood testing packages (exactly what Jason got) from WellnessFX here. And at checkout, you can even include a 20-minute nutritionist consultation for personalized recommendations you can implement immediately. Click here to get this blood testing package now.
I knew these results weren't going to be a yawner when I saw this Facebook post from Jason Sissel on December 23, exactly 30 days after he quit his daily alcohol intake:
Now, let's jump into the nitty-gritty screenshots from Jason's WellnessFX lab dashboard (click here to download Jason's full WellnessFX blood results).
We'll start with triglycerides. Before, I noted that:
“…Jason's Triglyceride to HDL ratio (one of the first values I pay attention to on a lipid panel) is very high, at 5.9 (I like to see it below 1!). Excess triglycerides can be stored in blood vessels, contributing to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Higher amounts of HDL can carry these fatty deposits away from blood vessels and be protective. So the ratio of triglycerides to HDL can be a valuable measure to help predict cardiovascular risk.
Due to it's high fructose content, most forms of alcohol can shove triglycerides through the roof. Alcohol has an especially significant additive effect on the postprandial (after a meal) triglyceride peak when it accompanies a meal containing fat, especially saturated fat. This results from a decrease in the breakdown of cholesterol due to an acute inhibitory effect of alcohol on the activity of the crucial fat burning enzyme lipoprotein lipase.
Alcohol also increases the synthesis of large VLDL particles in the liver, which is the main source of triglycerides in the high triglyceride state so often seen with chronic excessive alcohol intake.”
Now check out the results below. Jason's triglycerides plummeted from 386 to 113, with absolutely no dietary changes other than the elimination of alcohol.
Next, let's look at Jason's ApoB, a protein that can help LDL cholesterol bind to and clog blood vessels. Jason saw a significant drop in ApoB (142 to 118), indicating a significant improvement in cardiovascular health.
Next, let's look at blood sugar. Before, I noted that:
“…Jason has high fasted blood glucose and high hemoglobin A1c (a 3 month snapshot of his average blood sugar levels). Since alcoholic drinks contain high amounts of sugar from both glucose and fructose sources, this is no surprise. In an active athlete like Jason, I'd expect to see fasted glucose levels that are below 90, but instead, he appears to have chronically elevated blood sugar levels and is relying upon carbohydrates (not fat) for energy. In Jason's resting metabolic rate results farther below, you'll see that this is indeed the case.”
However, now look at Jasons HbA1c values! They dropped from 5.7 to 5.4, another significant improvement in an important metabolic marker.
Now comes a big one: thyroid.
I had noted before that:
“…Jason has a very elevated TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH triggers the thyroid gland in your neck to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which are crucial for your body's use of energy. The amount of functioning thyroid hormones gives your brain feedback as to how much TSH to release, so the brain will release less or more TSH as it senses is necessary. Low thyroid function can cause weight gain, fatigue, cold intolerance and brain fog.
Prior to this test, Jason was aware that he was hypothyroid, and is currently on 75mcg per day of Synthroid (Levothyroxine). This is definitely not my top pick for thyroid supplementation, as it is a synthetic form of thyroid and contains only one of the two major thyroid hormones: T4. I'm a much bigger fan of a full spectrum of thyroid hormones that includes T1, T2, T3 and T4. In the past, I've recommend natural thyroid replacement supplements such as ThyroGold for this reason.
While alcohol isn't always the culprit when it comes to low thyroid function, it can certainly play a role. It has been shown to cause direct suppression of thyroid function by cellular toxicity, and indirect suppression by blunting the release of an important thyroid-related hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). With elevated chronic use, it can also cause a decrease of peripheral thyroid hormones like T3 and T4, primarily due to it's deleterious effect on liver and gut conversion of thyroid hormones to their active form.
My guess is that Jason experiences a distinct drop in TSH after 30 days, indicated improved thyroid function.”
Jason's TSH drop was shocking. He went from a clinically concerning 4.73 down to a 2.44, indicating a huge shift in his thyroid hormone production capabilities. This alone has influenced me personally to be careful to limit myself to the “one glass of wine” rule as a consistent habit, and if you're concerned about your own thyroid, you should definitely pay attention to this one.
The changes in Jason's liver enzymes should come as no surprise. Before, I said:
….”As I would have expected due to his level of alcohol consumption, Jason has elevated liver enzymes. His Alanine Aminotransferase, or ALT, is especially elevated. This is an enzyme in liver cells, and liver damage or disease causes a release of ALT from the liver cells, increasing the amount in the blood. AST and ALP are found in cells other than liver cells, while ALT is more specific to liver cells.
High alcohol intake and high body fat percentages can both increase liver enzymes. I suspect we'll see some very favorable decreases in Jason's liver enzymes at the end of 30 days.”
Now check out the charts below. His enzymes dropped significantly across the board. Jason's liver is shouting an enormous thank-you. It's amazing how your body's primary filters can bounce back when you just give them a chance.
Before, I noted on Jason's White Blood Cell (WBC) results that
“…An abnormally high amount of eosinophils in the blood can suggest a variety of different problems, such as allergies or infections, and I often see this in individuals who are A) eating lots of foods that create autoimmune issues, such as commercial wheat, soy, or dairy; B) have some kind of a gut infection, such as bacterial overgrowth or a parasite…”
You can see that Jason's eosinophil count dropped from 8.1 to 7.3, possibly indicating less autoimmune activity (a good thing!). I'm not entirely convinced that this drop in WBC's is extremely significant, or related to the drop in alcohol intake, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Regarding Jason's Vitamin D levels, I originally wrote that Jason's…
“…Vitamin D is low…really low. Ideal ranges for Vitamin D are 40-80 and he is at 11. It is well known in nutritional science that drinking too much alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and activate Vitamin D.
Vitamin D only becomes physiologically active after it’s been chemically modified in the liver and kidneys. Since the liver must carry the majority of the burden of alcohol metabolism, excessive alcohol consumption puts an unhealthy overload on the liver and makes it less able to perform its other duties. This overload on the liver can eventually result in a number of disorders, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. By compromising normal liver function, alcohol interferes with the conversion of both dietary (from food) and endogenous (from sunlight) vitamin D into its active forms. As a consequence, heavy drinkers will tend to have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Jason will not be adding any extra Vitamin D supplementation over the next 30 days or increasing his sunlight exposure significantly, so it will be interesting to see how cutting alcohol affects his Vitamin D.”
As you can see below, despite no supplementation with Vitamin D, Jason's Vitamin D climbed from 11 to 18 in just 30 days – which is extremely significant.
Before & After Photos
You probably noticed above that Jason lost 8.8 pounds of body weight. If you'd like to see what that amount of weight loss looks like qualitatively in photo form, then behold the before and after photos below.
Finally, here is Jason's own post with his thoughts on the experience and his feelings on the highlights of cutting alcohol for 30 days.
After reviewing Jason's results, I'm personally inspired to back off my alcohol intake a bit. While I enjoy my nightly glass of red wine, and see no issues with the “glass a day” habit, I am certainly going to think twice before pouring myself a second glass, and although in the past, I'd go out and have two to five drinks every few weeks or so, I am also going to be limiting that amount of partying or binging I do in 2015.
After all, I think you can have quite a bit of fun without going on a bender, and without deleteriously affecting your blood glucose, liver health, thyroid, metabolism and immune system in the way that we've learned by looking at Jason's results.
Then, as I always do, I'm also going to spend the first 30 days of January doing a simple, mild detox. For me personally, this means one or two 20-24 hour fasts, along with very limited amounts of alcohol, 30 days of Metal-Free heavy metal detox spray, and finally 2 NatureCleanse Detox & Gut Cleanser each morning with 2 NatureCleanse Detox & Gut Cleanser each evening.
If you want to peruse my other detoxing articles and materials, and the rationale behind my personal yearly detox, here are the best resources I've created on the topic:
Feel free to include any detox questions below this post. I'm happy to help walk you through the details, and a detox protocol would be perfect to include along with limited alcohol intake for at least one month out of every year.
And like I mentioned earlier, if you'd like to run your own 30 Days No Alcohol Experiment, you can order your two Baseline blood testing packages (exactly what Jason got) from WellnessFX here. And at checkout, you can even include a 20-minute nutritionist consultation for personalized recommendations you can implement immediately. Click here to get this blood testing package now.
So what do you think? Would YOU quit alcohol for 30 days? Have you done it before and if so, what happened? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below!