Sisters In Sobriety

In today's episode of Sisters in Sobriety, we're diving into the transformative journey of balancing nutrition and sobriety with our special guest, Dr. Brooke Scheller, a pioneer in the field of clinical nutrition with a focus on sobriety. Sonia and Kathleen are here to guide you through an enlightening discussion on how to harness the power of functional foods to not only manage alcohol consumption but to thrive in your recovery journey.

Throughout the episode, we'll be exploring pivotal questions: How can nutrition profoundly impact your sobriety? What are the myths surrounding alcohol consumption and health? And how can the intentional inclusion of functional foods in our diet support not just our physical well-being, but our emotional and psychological recovery as well? These questions will uncover the interconnectedness of diet, health, and sobriety, shedding light on common misconceptions and empowering you with knowledge. This conversation is not just about abstaining from alcohol; it's about nurturing the body and mind to foster a resilient, sustainable sober lifestyle.

Listeners will walk away with a deeper understanding of key concepts such as the effects of alcohol on nutrient absorption, the importance of a balanced diet in managing cravings, and the role of specific functional foods in enhancing overall well-being. This educational journey is designed to inspire and inform, helping you make informed decisions about your health and recovery.

Dr. Scheller shares her personal story, providing a candid look at her own challenges and triumphs in the realm of nutrition and sobriety. This intimate narrative promises to resonate with many, offering hope and practical strategies for those navigating their own paths to wellness.

*Dr. Brooke Scheller, Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, stands at the forefront of a transformative movement in health and wellness. As the esteemed founder of Functional Sobriety and the author of "How to Eat to Change How You Drink," Dr. Scheller has dedicated her career to revolutionizing the approach to alcohol recovery and holistic well-being.

This is Sisters in Sobriety, the support community that helps women change their relationship with alcohol. Check out our substack for extra tips, tricks, and resources.

  • [00:02:06] Dr. Scheller's unique approach to combining nutrition with sobriety efforts is outlined, highlighting the importance of diet in managing alcohol consumption.
  • [00:02:49] Brooke shares her personal motivation for writing her book and diving deep into the relationship between eating habits and drinking behavior.
  • [00:03:30] Discussion on the struggle with alcohol and the realization of its impact on mental health and professional integrity.
  • [00:04:16] Brooke's journey from research on substance use disorders to personal sobriety, highlighting the role of nutrition and supplements.
  • [00:06:32] Exploration of high-functioning alcoholism and the difficult decision to quit drinking, shedding light on the complex dynamics of success and substance dependence.
  • [00:10:19] Debunking common misconceptions about alcohol's impact on health, emphasizing the widespread physiological effects beyond liver damage.
  • [00:14:03] Discussion on persistent myths about alcohol, including the misleading belief in moderate drinking benefits for health.
  • [00:16:38] Challenging the notion of "everything in moderation," especially in the context of alcohol consumption and its universal harm.
  • [00:20:44] Insights into the various types and effects of alcohol, debunking the myth of "healthier" alcoholic beverages.
  • [00:22:17] The connection between alcohol consumption and nutrient depletion, and its profound effects on the body's functions.
  • [00:25:27] The psychological and physiological repercussions of using alcohol as a stress relief tool, emphasizing its counterproductive nature.
  • [00:29:23] Highlighting the statistic that 95% of alcoholics may suffer from low blood sugar, exploring its implications for cravings and recovery.
  • [00:32:54] The critical role of the gut microbiome in overall health and how alcohol adversely affects it, underlining the need for dietary intervention in sobriety.
  • [00:37:49] Introduction of the concept of "functional foods" and their significance in supporting sobriety and physical well-being.
  • [00:41:18] Explanation of drinking archetypes (social, stress, habitual drinkers) to help listeners identify their patterns and find tailored nutrition advice.
  • [00:45:29] How functional foods directly influence mood, decision-making, and, by extension, alcohol consumption habits.
  • [00:48:19] Brooke offers practical tips for integrating functional foods into one's diet without feeling overwhelmed, advocating for incremental changes.


What is Sisters In Sobriety?

You know that sinking feeling when you wake up with a hangover and think: “I’m never doing this again”? We’ve all been there. But what happens when you follow through? Sonia Kahlon and Kathleen Killen can tell you, because they did it! They went from sisters-in-law, to Sisters in Sobriety.

In this podcast, Sonia and Kathleen invite you into their world, as they navigate the ups and downs of sobriety, explore stories of personal growth and share their journey of wellness and recovery.

Get ready for some real, honest conversations about sobriety, addiction, and everything in between. Episodes will cover topics such as: reaching emotional sobriety, how to make the decision to get sober, adopting a more mindful lifestyle, socializing without alcohol, and much more.

Whether you’re sober-curious, seeking inspiration and self-care through sobriety, or embracing the alcohol-free lifestyle already… Tune in for a weekly dose of vulnerability, mutual support and much needed comic relief. Together, let’s celebrate the transformative power of sisterhood in substance recovery!

Kathleen Killen is a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) and certified coach based in Ontario, Canada. Her practice is centered on relational therapy and she specializes in couples and working with individuals who are navigating their personal relationships.

Having been through many life transitions herself, Kathleen has made it her mission to help others find the support and communication they need in their closest relationships. To find out more about Kathleen’s work, check out her website.

Sonia Kahlon is a recovery coach and former addict. She grappled with high-functioning alcohol use disorder throughout her life, before getting sober in 2016. Sonia is now the founder of EverBlume, a digital tool that offers a unique approach to alcohol recovery support.

Over the last five years, she has appeared on successful sobriety platforms, such as the Story Exchange, the Sobriety Diaries podcast and the Sober Curator, to tell her story of empowerment and addiction recovery, discuss health and midlife sobriety, and share how she is thriving without alcohol.

Her online platform EverBlume launched in February 2023, and was featured in Recovery Today Magazine and deemed an ‘essential sobriety resource’ by the FemTech Insider.
The company champions self-improvement and mindful sobriety, with support groups designed by and for women struggling with alcohol.

So how can EverBlume help you meet your sober community? By offering deeply personalized support. Members get matched based on their profiles and life experiences, and take part in small group sessions (max. 16 people). In your support group, you will meet like-minded women, discuss your experiences, and gain confidence, knowing you can rely on your peers in times of need.

Whether you identify as a binge drinker, someone who developed a habit during the Covid-19 pandemic, a high-functioning alcoholic, or an anxious person using alcohol to self-soothe… There is a support group for you!

Current EverBlume members have praised the company’s unique approach to alcohol detox. “No one is judging me for not being sure I want to be sober for the rest of my life” ; “I felt so heard and understood and today I woke up feeling empowered to make the change in my life”.

Feeling inspired? Learn more about the EverBlume sobriety community at, or simply listen to Sisters In Sobriety.

Your sobriety success story starts today, with Kathleen and Sonia. Just press play!


[00:00:53] Kathleen: Hi there. We're Kathleen and Sonia and you're listening to Sisters in Sobriety. Thanks [00:01:00] for being here. I'm Kathleen and I'm with my sister in sobriety, actually my ex sister in law, Sonia. How are you doing today?

[00:01:08] Sonia: I'm really good. I'm taking a writing class, and it's a nonfiction class where you write about things that have happened in your life, and a big part of that is my sobriety, so it's been really great to, re examine some of those, ideas. So, how are you doing today?

[00:01:27] Kathleen: Well, I'm still in your kitchen. So for our listeners, they might feel like I've been in your kitchen for weeks, but that's the magic of podcasting. So, I've been here. in your beautiful area where you live and we're having a really nice time with you and my daughter and it's been good.

[00:01:46] Sonia: So today we are thrilled to introduce our guest, Dr. Brooke Scheller. She is a trailblazer in the intersection of nutrition and sobriety. She has a doctorate in clinical nutrition and is the author of How to Eat to [00:02:00] Change How You Drink and the founder of Functional Sobriety, a nutrition based program that helps people reduce their alcohol intake.

[00:02:06] Kathleen: Dr. Scheller reached a pivotal moment in 2021 with her own drinking that led her to think about nutrition and sobriety. Her unique approach encompasses how to eat to balance brain health, mood, energy levels, focus, gut health, and hormone balance, and ultimately manage alcohol consumption.

[00:02:24] Sonia: So join us as Dr. Scheller shares her inspiring journey, her insights into the powerful role of nutrition in sobriety. So whether you're seeking to change your relationship with alcohol or interested in the holistic aspects of wellness, this episode is for you.

[00:02:41] Kathleen: Hi Brooke. It's so nice to have you on.

[00:02:44] Brooke: I'm so thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:02:49] Kathleen: Well, first off, I'd really love to know what inspired you to write how to eat to change how you drink.

[00:02:57] Brooke: This is one of the questions that I never get tired of [00:03:00] answering because I really believe that this is part of, like, why I was put on this planet. And it almost, like, makes me a little emotional as I'm saying it for some reason today that, You know, I struggled with alcohol for so long and is someone that if you read the book, you'll read my story and how like so many people started drinking at a really young age as a teenager, had some trauma in my teen years that really fueled heavy alcohol use for my adulthood.

[00:03:30] Um, my late teens into twenties were very fueled by alcohol. And, um, and into my early thirties and while I was a heavy drinker, I was also someone who was really interested in health and wellness and pursued multiple degrees and nutrition, uh, including a doctorate degree and all of that while I was drinking.

[00:03:53] And the really interesting thing about that to me is looking at how much alcohol is part of the health care [00:04:00] world and how it is not something that even as a health care practitioner that we're really trained a whole lot around. Um, and so when I, Kind of hit the end of my road in 2021 and decided to get sober.

[00:04:16] I was just sharing with you both before we got on the podcast, actually prior to my getting sober, I had been asked to work on a project and wrote a textbook chapter in a book on integrative approaches to substance use disorders. And I authored a chapter on nutrition and supplements for substance use disorders.

[00:04:36] And all the while I'm in my kind of final six months of drinking. And when I decided then in the spring of 2021 to get sober, I started using a lot of those tools in my own journey. I was taking some of the supplements that I had done research on. I had been changing and structuring my diet in a way to support that.

[00:04:56] And of course I was also taking part in alcohol free [00:05:00] community and really surrounding myself and immersing myself in the sobriety landscape, which as we is a critical, critical part of this. But I have some very vivid memories of those early days in finding that things like the supplements that I was using really helped me get over some of the cravings that I was experiencing.

[00:05:22] And I was about three months sober, it was September of 2021, and I got And hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration that was I have to write a book on this. I have to do more of this research. There's not enough of this information out there. And really, I had started, you know, following influencers on Instagram and getting more involved in the space and just really recognizing this need.

[00:05:47] gap around the physiology, the, what's going on in our body and not only how we can leverage food, nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle to support cravings and to [00:06:00] support our sobriety journey. But the second part of that is healing our body from long term alcohol use, because it is so disruptive to so many of the systems of the body.

[00:06:09] Sonia: Wow. Thank you. so Kathleen and I were also super high functioning, I I was a drinker, you were a drug user, super successful in our careers. And so, a lot of our listeners and a lot of my clients are high functioning and it is really hard for them to make the decision to quit drinking or to acknowledge how alcohol is impacting their life.

[00:06:32] So how did you make the decision?what was the thought process that led up to it? Because you were obviously successful and you were exercising and eating well.

[00:06:43] Brooke: Yeah. On the outside, I think, uh, like everything was good on paper, right? I had. These advanced degrees and I had You know, was living on my own in New York city, although I was in debt and I had a good job and, um, you know, I had good friendships and [00:07:00] I used that as a crutch for a very long time that I can't possibly have a problem with this, I can't possibly have an addiction to this substance because look, I don't have any of these negative effects.

[00:07:13] I don't have a DUI. I haven't lost a job. I haven't had any real, Big external factors happen, but the reality is that I was living in my own hell of anxiety and depression I was feeling a lot of self loathing the more and more The closer that I got to the end of my drinking the more and more I was feeling that way and it was becoming unavoidable and My mental health was really really suffering and in the last year Six months or so of my drinking, I really had escalated in a way that I hadn't experienced before.

[00:07:51] I had always been a pretty heavy drinker, a five, six day a week drinker. Um, but in the last even three or four months of my [00:08:00] drinking, I had escalated to become daily drinker and I had started drinking early. And that was something that really terrified me. And became something that, um, you know, while I was sailing for a while on the five or six days, by the time I had gotten to the point where I was daily drinking, my life was really starting to move in a direction toward, toward crumble.

[00:08:25] And it was brought up to me by a partner that I had at the time who lived about an hour and a half away from me and only saw me about every other weekend. And I had gone down to visit him one weekend and I drank the whole weekend. And because he wasn't around me that often, he didn't really know what I was up to on a daily basis.

[00:08:46] And so it was kind of getting away with it. I was living alone and this was during, in that tail end of the pandemic. And, um, he brought up to me, not in a judgmental way, not like you need help, but said, Hey, you [00:09:00] drank, like, the entire weekend. And as soon as he called it out, I knew, like it just, he didn't say you need help, didn't even really know, but I knew, I knew that I was struggling.

[00:09:14] And as soon as he said it, I was like, I know I need to take a break, I'm going to take some time off. And, um, Kind of made the decision that day that I was going to take a step back and went to a 12 step meeting and the rest was history. And like I said, it, it became something that for me, when I really recognized myself and my desires and the things that I really wanted, including to be a doctor of nutrition that lived in integrity, um, it really just became more apparent that this was something that was in alignment with the life that I wanted to live.

[00:09:53] Kathleen: That's, that's so amazing to hear that because I love what you said about wanting to live in alignment [00:10:00] with who you are, right? And, and what you represent. I think there are so many misconceptions about. substance use disorder, about, alcohol use disorder. What are some of the common misconceptions about the relationship between diet and alcohol consumption?

[00:10:19] So

[00:10:27] Brooke: that alcohol is a toxic, addictive, substance, period. It has a negative effect on anyone who drinks it, and no one is really immune to developing an addiction to the substance.

[00:10:44] Part of the reason why some people are more likely to is because of some of the genes that, have to do with how we feel when we consume alcohol. So some people clear alcohol really quickly. It gives them a little bit more of a kind of [00:11:00] feeling of that quote unquote high. And because they feel better when they drink it, they're more likely to consume more of it.

[00:11:07] There's other people, on the other hand, that don't clear it as effectively, and when they drink it, they don't feel very good. And so it almost protects them from developing an addiction, because they aren't as likely to continue consuming it. But really, the reality and the science behind all of, of alcohol, Is the more that you're going to put the substance into your body, the more you're going to almost train your body to continue wanting or needing it on a consistent basis.

[00:11:38] We and there's several ways that this is happening, and so the 1st kind of misconception now, this isn't necessarily related to diet, but the biggest misconception that I want to kind of, like, put the stamp on right now is that. This is not like a problem for just like this separate subset of the population who is, [00:12:00] uh, who's a quote unquote, um, has a quote unquote substance use disorder.

[00:12:05] That this isn't just a conversation for people who want to be sober or need to be sober, this is something that affects everybody. And this is something that no one is immune from. And I point that out because for so long we've said like the person is the problem and not the substance and the substance is what actually is the problem from a physiological and biochemical standpoint.

[00:12:31] So that is 1 big area that I feel really passionately to talk about because it is we can get so hard on ourselves over this. And really feel this immense guilt, this immense shame of being this way. And it's part of the reason why there's still a lot of stigma around alcohol use disorder. And it's also part of the reason why, like, for me, I didn't want to get sober because I didn't want to have to label myself as an [00:13:00] alcoholic.

[00:13:00] Right? And that keeps a lot of people from seeking a life without or with less alcohol because they're afraid of that label. So I point that out because you don't ever have to label it's in like the first page of my book. I say, you do not, we're not going to talk about those labels at all because it doesn't matter.

[00:13:18] Right? So I think that's an important thing to point out for sure.

[00:13:23] Sonia: So I read the book, and everyone go out and get it. I loved it. And it really does break down, scientific principles into something that's really easily digestible. And so you do talk about how, alcohol impacts nutritional pathways and the different body systems impacted and how to use food and nutrition to change your relationship with alcohol.

[00:13:57] So given that, what are some of the most persistent [00:14:00] myths about alcohol and its effect on health?

[00:14:03] Brooke: Yeah, well, I think one of the biggest things is, and there was just an article that just came out in the New York Times about this the other day. One of the big myths is that, like, the most Harmful effect of alcohol is on the liver and I think we all talk about this is like, oh, well poor liver Like it'll be fine.

[00:14:24] Like we all make jokes about like how our liver will you know? It'll handle it and the liver does take a lot of beating, you know It's it's actually a pretty regenerative organ, but the liver is one of the many systems of the body that is affected by alcohol. So to your point, Sonia, a lot of what I talk about in the book are the other things that we don't talk about, uh, how alcohol affects like our gut and our gut microbiome, like our nutrient levels.

[00:14:52] One of the most well studied effects of alcohol is the impacts on nutrient levels. Most of [00:15:00] our vitamins and minerals are going to be depleted with chronic alcohol use. And. Even if we're taking a supplement or a multivitamin, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's replenishing everything that the body needs.

[00:15:12] The more that we drink, the more our nutrient levels are going to be affected. And that can be, you know, that can sound all well and good. You know, we all need, we all know we need our vitamins and minerals to grow big and strong. But these vitamins and minerals are also the things that support our mood.

[00:15:29] Our energy, our hormone balance, um, all of these things that can affect how we feel and can affect the reason why maybe we pick up a drink. Or keep us from picking up a drink. there's so much more, another big area that I talk about are hormones and blood sugar. And these are all the things, like one of the biggest myths is like, Oh, well maybe it's a little bit good for us.

[00:15:54] I mean, we can get into the whole, like good for us debate too. But to touch on what I think [00:16:00] is the biggest myth is that. It only affects the liver because it's really affecting every single organ system in the body. And we're, we're neglecting to support that not only after we get sober.

[00:16:13] Um, but if we do have chronic alcohol use or a heavy alcohol use history, we need to be supporting and replenishing those areas as part of our sobriety journey too.

[00:16:23] Kathleen: Brooke, I'm sure you've heard the term everything in moderation when it comes to nutrition. so let's take that to alcohol. What, do you say on challenging the notion that moderate drinking can be beneficial

[00:16:38] Brooke: Yeah. So this gets into a little bit with that kind of, Are there potential quote unquote health benefits with small amounts of alcohol? Really what we're seeing in the research over the last couple of years is we've debunked a lot of those previous studies that have shown that there's maybe some minor benefits [00:17:00] for cardiovascular health.

[00:17:02] with small amounts of alcohol. And when I say small amounts, I mean this five ounce glass of wine or this one, twelve ounce malt beverage per day, for example. What has never been argued is that anything over that very small amount is harmful. It is starting to increase health risk. But the challenge is that the studies are quite skewed.

[00:17:26] Those original studies are a bit skewed, and what they talk about now is that there's this, they call it a J shape curve and, um, to give a little bit of a visual, which is hard to do with a, with a podcast. But if you picture, you know, the shape of a J, you have a little bit of an arc up, it goes down and then.

[00:17:44] Starts going back up higher, right? So this is what they saw in some of those early studies that people who drank zero actually had a slightly higher. If you picture that first part of the J slightly higher health risk, someone who drank a single drink, you know, [00:18:00] dropped back down. We saw that there was a lower risk of health and then anything over that goes up.

[00:18:05] So we follow that J, up on an angle. But what, what actually is just being discussed now, uh, is that the people who don't drink any alcohol, so the people who had, you know, maybe showed an increased health risk, that most of the reason why people don't drink alcohol Zero amount of alcohol is because either they have a history of alcohol abuse, or they have a health condition that maybe limits them, or they intentionally don't drink alcohol because of a health condition.

[00:18:36] And because of that, they more are more likely to have a potential increased risk of health effects. Right? So they've, they've really debunked a lot of those myths. Previous held notions around, you know, alcohol providing some potential benefit and, it's one of those things that, of course, we, as a society, hooked on to.

[00:18:58] We were like, Oh, well, here's [00:19:00] justification. As to why this is, you know, maybe it's even good for me. But the reality is that we are now seeing over the last years and even more so over the last 2 or 3 years, large government organizations like the World Health Organization saying no amount of alcohol is safe. That we are seeing all of these studies that are really going against those previous studies. And, um, you know, it's, it's, The everything in moderation thing is something that we've, we've told ourselves so that we can justify some of those behaviors and, and it's all a matter of, you know, our own, our own choices and our own health risks.

[00:19:43] So, you know, some people maybe drink a little bit of alcohol, but eat a really clean diet. Some people aren't going to drink alcohol, but maybe don't eat as well or don't exercise as much. And so it's really a matter of. How much you want to focus your [00:20:00] energy and increase or decrease your risk of developing chronic health issues.

[00:20:05] But the last thing I'll say about this is, and something that I tell my clients, is if you have a health goal or a health concern, no matter what that is, alcohol is very likely to be making it worse. And so if you really truly want to work toward optimal health and decrease risk, alcohol elimination is going to be one of the top things that you want to consider.

[00:20:29] Kathleen: So is alcohol alcohol, meaning are there better forms or more healthier forms of alcohol as a beverage to consume or it's just alcohol is

[00:20:44] Brooke: people will sometimes say, well, what about an organic red wine that is bio, Dynamic and grown in this special soil. Well, sure. I mean, whatever we mix our alcohol with is, of course, going to [00:21:00] have another impact. Right? So if we're consuming alcohol with a bunch of sugar, that sugar is going to be problematic on its own.

[00:21:08] Right? But the ethanol, the alcohol molecule itself, the thing that gets us drunk. Is the actual piece of it. That is problematic. So even if you're having, and I call this the vodka club theory. So Sony read this in the book that it doesn't matter what you're mixing it with, whether it has calories or carbs, whether it's organic or not organic, the actual ethanol molecule is the molecule that's causing harm.

[00:21:37] So if that wasn't present. You wouldn't be getting drunk from the substance. It would be a non alcoholic beverage. So really any type of there. And again, a little bit of that is the hook of, well, it's better for me because of this. Um, but really breaking down the science that ethanol is, is the problem itself.

[00:21:58] Sonia: So we're down to the [00:22:00] molecular level at this point. and I had consequences of nutrient depletion towards the end of my drinking, was having muscle spasms, And so how does alcohol consumption lead to nutrient depletion and which nutrients are most commonly affected?

[00:22:17] Brooke: So there's a couple of reasons that this happens. One is that, Alcohol is mostly absorbed in our stomach, and so it's going to almost compete for absorption of a lot of the nutrients that get absorbed in the stomach, as well as the small intestine. It's going to also affect the levels of our digestive enzymes and our stomach acid levels, which play a role in how our body absorbs nutrients.

[00:22:46] But also, when we consume alcohol on a regular basis, alcohol is very inflammatory. It creates a lot of oxidative stress in the system, and it requires more antioxidant [00:23:00] nutrients. in order to kind of put out the fires that is caused by alcohol and the metabolism of alcohol. And lastly, our liver, which breaks down and metabolizes alcohol from the system, uses vitamins and minerals to help with detoxification.

[00:23:18] So the more work that the liver has to do in detoxing, the more nutrients it is going to require in order to effectively metabolize this substance out of our system. So there's a couple of different ways that alcohol kind of gets in the way of our nutrient absorption and really just about every nutrient that we need.

[00:23:42] Is affected by alcohol. So everything from our B vitamins, um, most notably is vitamin B one, which is something that they have looked at for many, many years in studies that is associated with something called Warnicky's encephalopathy or what we refer to as that quote unquote, wet [00:24:00] brain. It's a psychosis that can develop from long term vitamin B one deficiency.

[00:24:05] Um, But really all of the B vitamins are affected, vitamin B3, B6, B12, folate, for example. And the B vitamins, what a lot of people don't know, not only are they important for energy, for our nervous system health, but they're also really critical for mood. And when we are maybe drinking because we have low mood, depression, anxiety, we're actually depleting out a lot of those nutrients we need in order to feel a good mood, good, healthy mood, but everything from vitamin C to vitamin D, vitamin E, all of our minerals.

[00:24:43] Like magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, some of these deficiencies can lead to muscle spasms, restless legs, those types of symptoms, Sonia, that you may have been experiencing. But also things like omega 3s, which are really important for brain health, [00:25:00] for nervous system health, and even our proteins. and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

[00:25:06] So it's really disruptive to the system. And the more that we're consuming it, the more that we are lowering our nutrient status.

[00:25:18] Sonia: Wow, that's a lot to compute.

[00:25:20] so what are the psychological and the physiological effects of using alcohol as a stress relief tool?

[00:25:27] And why does that approach ultimately sabotage us?

[00:25:30] Brooke: Yeah. So I love this question. Part of it has to do with those nutrient deficiencies, right? So like I mentioned, a lot of these nutrients affect The nervous system, they affect our mood, and when we are chronically depleting these nutrients, we're not allowing for normal systems and function of our body, or excuse me, normal function of the systems in our body.

[00:25:55] And so, you know, not only are we creating almost this vicious cycle [00:26:00] where we drink, we lower these nutrients, and then we feel crappy, so we want to drink again, right? It creates this kind of vicious cycle with it. But also one of the other areas that I speak a lot about is alcohol's effect on cortisol, cortisol being our body's main stress hormone.

[00:26:19] And cortisol is now shown in the research to be elevated with alcohol use that when we have a couple of drinks, it actually increases our baseline cortisol levels. And it takes about seven days. for the body to rebalance and restabilize cortisol levels after one instance of drinking. Um, it's worse with binge drinking.

[00:26:42] So the heavier we're drinking, the more it's going to spike cortisol. And that can actually be a predictor of future alcohol consumption. So what they're seeing in this literature is when we drink and when we binge drink, it causes the spike in cortisol that it can actually predict future binge [00:27:00] drinking behavior.

[00:27:01] And The take home message with alcohol increasing cortisol is that while we might feel like alcohol reduces our stress when we drink it, it actually makes our stress worse. The more that we drink it, and so what's happening is we're, we're getting maybe 20 minutes of relaxation. We're getting this kind of false elevation and GABA, which is one of our brains, relaxing neurotransmitters, which we can elevate in other ways.

[00:27:30] We could talk about that, but we're getting this 20 minute kind of elevation in, uh, in these feel good hormones and an extended period of time where we're actually more stressed. So I, I. Love talking about this topic in particular, because it is really important for us to understand that if we are using alcohol for stress relief, that this is actually making our stress worse and so finding other ways to relieve stress, whether that is [00:28:00] exercise, whether that is meditation, whether that is.

[00:28:03] spending time with friends, loved ones, et cetera. We can, you know, we can talk about a whole list of things there. Um, but those are actually going to be lowering stress and lowering cortisol, where this is going to be really making things worse over time.

[00:28:16] Kathleen: Absolutely. I know personally, I mean, when I used to drink my anxiety, Would be so much worse the next day

[00:28:23] Brooke: Yeah. And that's something too, that it's not even just about the next day, but if you're someone who experiences anxiety on a frequent basis, that is absolutely linked back to that alcohol use. So most of the time people find that by eliminating alcohol, not only are they going to see a reduction in anxiety, um, but they're going to see a long term improvement in mood and mental health because they're, you're not putting that same stress on the system that you are doing, especially if you're drinking more frequently.[00:29:00]

[00:29:04] Kathleen: absolutely and one of the things that your book mentions that I was really interested by is that 95 percent of alcoholics have low blood sugar or tend to hypoglycemia so You Wow. Uh, I'm also hypoglycemic, but what, what does that mean for our listeners?

[00:29:23] Brooke: Yeah, so I this is a topic I speak a lot about because there's a lot that we can do, especially in the short term to support and manage blood sugar and blood sugar is also a big part of the reason why people experience not only cravings for alcohol when they quit drinking, but also why they switch to cravings for sugar when they

[00:29:45] Kathleen: Mm hmm.

[00:29:46] Brooke: And a lot of the discussion on that is typically pointed back to dopamine and that. Because alcohol can have this false elevation and dopamine that when we take alcohol out, we're looking for other things that can increase dopamine [00:30:00] like sugar. But one of the other pieces that is not spoken about very often is that the blood sugar itself can play a really big role in why we have these cravings, too.

[00:30:12] And it's actually something that we can, uh, have a lot more control over, which is really good, very helpful to know that blood sugar, again, the statistic is that, exactly as you mentioned, Kathleen, about 95 percent of alcohol users, those the history of heavy alcohol use, have low blood sugar or a tendency toward hypoglycemia.

[00:30:35] And what this means is that we are more likely to fall into this state of low blood sugar And when we are in a state of low blood sugar, experience is what we usually call like, uh, hang, when you're hangry, right? When you've got a long period of time without eating and you're a little irritable, maybe you're craving, uh, sweets or you're craving carbohydrates, your body is [00:31:00] needing a, um, a reprieve and is needing energy.

[00:31:04] And so it's needing something to raise that blood sugar back up. And because this is frequent in people with an alcohol use history, we need to be extremely mindful in these people that we want to be watching out for getting into that low blood sugar state because it's going to give us a lot more trouble saying no to a drink or saying no to sugar when we're in that state of low blood sugar.

[00:31:30] So people always pointed out, well, I don't have the willpower. Right? I'm not strong enough. Maybe I can't say no to the drink or to the sugar because I just don't have the willpower. And willpower, in my mind, is really just your body is needing something. Your body is saying, I need something. It's sending you this signal, and our job is to recognize, well, what is it that I need?

[00:31:54] And this is spoken about, you know, this isn't really that new of a concept, because even in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, [00:32:00] they talk about HALT. Avoiding being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Well, a lot of that is just explaining a low blood sugar state. Right. That's the part that we don't talk about.

[00:32:11] And so this is where the rubber really meets the road with recommendations, because some of the things that I recommend in the book, like having more frequent meals throughout the day. So making sure you're having something to eat every three to four hours or so, making sure that you're having protein at every single meal and snack and not having, you know, High sugar, high carbohydrate foods. especially in the afternoon around that, you know, everyone struggles at that four or five, six o'clock timeframe with saying no to a drink. Well, oftentimes you're just hungry, right? My first question is if you're struggling at that time, well, when's the last time you had something to eat? Was it lunch five hours ago?

[00:32:54] Because you're at that point. You're just in a state of low blood sugar. And by having [00:33:00] something to eat, and we were talking about this right before we got on the call, just that recommendation of having something to eat in the afternoon can be an absolute game changer for people. I've seen it work with hundreds of clients all around the world.

[00:33:14] And it is so, so, so simple, but it's really about getting back to. Learning and recognizing and understanding the signals that our bodies are trying to send us.

[00:33:27] Kathleen: So, Brooke, I know that you focus mostly on, like, on alcohol in your book, but is this Are you seeing this in a variety of addictions? Like, is this true amongst, like, for me, I had a cocaine addiction. So is that true amongst drugs? Is it true amongst like, uh, binge eating, for example, or is it, are you focused really, does this, the impact of alcohol,

[00:33:54] Brooke: So this is a lot, especially with blood sugar, a lot of it is the impact of alcohol [00:34:00] specifically and the way that alcohol affects hormones that support blood sugar management. When it comes to some other, um, addictions and substances, they're all going to have different effects on the body. And that's part of why we feel differently.

[00:34:15] Like cocaine gives a very different, um, Feeling in the body than alcohol would some of the bigger concerns with things like cocaine is we're going to see, you know, more effect on the brain. We're going to see more changes to those brain neurotransmitters. It isn't necessarily going to have the same type of effect on blood sugar, for example.

[00:34:36] But cocaine is also really disruptive to the gut and the gut microbiome. So we see a lot of issues with intestinal permeability with cocaine, which is also present with alcohol. So there is some overlap, but not necessarily all of the same kind of overlap with these pathways.

[00:34:54] Kathleen: Right. And so you just mentioned the microbiome. So I just want to go back to that with regards to [00:35:00] alcohol. What are some of the immediate and long term effects of alcohol on the gut microbiome?

[00:35:08] Brooke: So there's a whole chapter on the gut and the gut microbiome in the book, because this is one that I, I, it's so important to talk about. It's such a hot topic in the health and wellness world. What's really interesting is a lot of people who talk about the gut are blowing over the, you know, the subject of alcohol and, and acting like people aren't consuming.

[00:35:28] It is definitely a huge contributor to the gut imbalances that we see in the world today. And it. Alcohol is going to affect the gut in several different ways. One of them is that it's going to affect the balance of microbes in the gut. So it's going to lower our probiotic, that quote unquote good bacteria in the gut.

[00:35:49] It can contribute to overgrowth of some of the more harmful microbes. And it's also going to contribute to intestinal permeability. So kind of what we [00:36:00] just mentioned similarly with cocaine and intestinal permeability is the breakdown of the lining of the gut. And this can contribute to systemic inflammation.

[00:36:11] This can contribute to a whole host of health effects. immune system issues, autoimmune disease development, the development of allergies or food sensitivities. And so this is really just goes to show that because we know the gut is linked to all these different systems of the body, including the brain and our mood and cognition, that we, um, we need to consider this not only as part of You know, again, maybe why we are struggling with quitting alcohol.

[00:36:43] There's some microbes that can actually contribute to cravings for alcohol. I talk about this in the book, but also that when we stop drinking, we have some work to do. We have some work to do with repairing the gut, with repairing the gut lining, with rebalancing the gut [00:37:00] microbiome. And what I see a lot with clients, and I, I work in groups with clients, but also one on one, is Sometimes people who are a little bit longer into their sobriety, so maybe a year or two years or more, and are still struggling with health concerns, oftentimes it's because some things can be fixed kind of over time.

[00:37:24] You know, when we take out alcohol, body will start absorbing nutrients a little bit more. would be helpful to bring in some supplements to kind of move that along more quickly. But if we don't spend some time rebalancing the gut, those issues will carry over years and years later. So a lot of times when I work with clients who are in that longer term sobriety, um, we see a lot of these gut issues that need support.

[00:37:49] And that's one of the big areas that we look at.

[00:37:51] Kathleen: Mhm.

[00:37:52] Sonia: So there's so much to talk about from the book, and you have some great quizzes and journaling exercises designed to help [00:38:00] people understand their alcohol consumption better. And I love something tangible, although sometimes I think there's that inner voice that tells you you have a problem, but it's always good.

[00:38:10] to have an exercise or quiz. But when we consider gray area drinking, I love how you address the different types of drinking in the book. What is gray area drinking to you?

[00:38:24] Brooke: Yeah. So gray area is that, um, You know, that in between space between being unfazed by alcohol and it not playing a significant role in your life and, and that diagnosable substance use disorder. And so many people are stuck in that gray area for a long period of time, and it's really this space where there's a lot of opportunity for change.

[00:38:51] And when I wrote this book, I think a lot about how. I wish I had this book years before I quit drinking because maybe it would have saved me from [00:39:00] getting to the point that I got to in the end where I really needed to change. And what I learned in starting to work with others About six months into my recovery process.

[00:39:13] I started running some dry January groups and programs that were using nutrition to support changing alcohol use behaviors. And one of the things that struck me was that there were people who drank like I did, who by the end were daily drinkers, really needed help to stop. But I also had women coming in who were, um, More social drinkers, they were only drinking on the weekends, you know, maybe it was only a couple of times a month, but they still wanted help stopping because they felt like once they started, they couldn't stop.

[00:39:45] They couldn't say no in a social situation. They were still feeling challenged. And I was looking at this as, you know, well, why is it that this person is struggling in this way, but another person is struggling in this way. So it [00:40:00] really helped me from a scientific standpoint to almost help. Understand the systems and the processes of what's going on in the body through this lens of these drinkers.

[00:40:10] So the book talks about three drinking archetypes. There's a social drinker, a stress drinker, and a habitual drinker. The social drinker is that person we spoke about who's drinking more in these social situations. Maybe again, it's a couple times a week, a couple times a month, but once they start, they can't stop.

[00:40:29] The stress drinker is someone who's drinking mostly for stress relief. They're drinking at the end of the workday. They're drinking after, you know, a triggering situation happens. Um, and they're mostly driven to drinking from stress. They might be drinking a little bit more frequently than the social drinker might be.

[00:40:48] And then the last is the habitual drinker. And this is someone who is what I identify as at the end. Someone who is drinking more like daily or almost daily and has a little bit more of this chemical dependence on the [00:41:00] substance. And the goal with having the quiz and having these archetypes in the book is not only to help people identify where they kind of fall in the spectrum, but also to gain a little bit more insight as to If I am a social drinker, what, what recommendations should I follow?

[00:41:18] Um, you know, with my food, with my nutrition supplementation versus someone who's a habitual drinker is going to be a little bit different. So it's also another filter to help guide and support people on this journey as well.

[00:41:32] Kathleen: Haha.

[00:41:35] Sonia: whatever the worst one is. That is what I am. So I get it. So I'm really excited to move on to talking about what you call functional foods that help us balance and ultimately can help us reduce our drinking. And I'm going to turn this over to my sister in law, Kathleen, because she almost graduated from nutrition school.

[00:41:59] Kathleen: Thanks for [00:42:00] adding that in. My shame. My shame.

[00:42:03] Sonia: You're a therapist. It's okay. I

[00:42:13] Kathleen: what you mean by functional foods and how they can play a role in an individual's journey to reduce alcohol consumption?

[00:42:22] Brooke: Yeah. So functional food, the kind of simple definition is just, it's a food with a function, right? And for so long, we've looked at foods as, you know, from a nutrition standpoint. Right. Having certain nutrients, certain vitamins or minerals, having fiber and maybe choosing certain foods because of the nutrients that they include.

[00:42:42] But aside from nutrients, plant foods in particular have functions that go beyond just providing a specific nutrient, for example. So some of the foods that I like to talk about are ones that support the gut or support liver [00:43:00] detoxification or support the brain. For example, one of the functional foods I speak about most frequently and several recipes in the book on are beets. And beets are really good for the brain. They're really good for cognition. They help promote, provide energy and kind of blood flow to the brain. They're also really good for detoxification. They support the liver's natural waste removal processes. They provide several of the B vitamins that we need in order to have a good, healthy, happy mood.

[00:43:30] And so when we think of foods in this way, we can be really strategic around the Things that we incorporate, especially knowing maybe where some of our goals are, what some of our goals are, or where some of the areas of our body that need a little bit more support. Um, I don't necessarily consider protein as a functional food, although it does have a lot of functional benefits, but protein is one.

[00:43:54] You know, if. If you walk away with one thing from this podcast today, it's increasing your protein content [00:44:00] and it's getting a protein rich snack in the afternoon. Um, and again, protein is going to help with stabilizing blood sugar. It's going to help make sure that we're not falling into those low blood sugar slumps where we're feeling like we need a drink or we need something sweet.

[00:44:16] But also protein is really interesting because it Proteins are made up of amino acids, and amino acid therapy has been studied for a long time to support brain, to support mood, to support alcohol reduction. So a lot of times I'm using supplements that are, um, amino acid based, things like L theanine, which can help to support reducing anxiety, and L glutamine, which is one that I love to use to help eliminate alcohol cravings.

[00:44:46] Um, it's part of my, I have supplement packs through our company, Functional Spritey, um, and we have a craving crusher pack that has a couple of different supplements that balance blood sugar. And these things can be really, really beneficial, life [00:45:00] changing, game changing in how you overcome alcohol. And especially if you're someone who's struggled a lot, these foods and these supplements that I speak about in the book, um, can really, really provide benefit and, and give another layer of support that maybe you're missing.

[00:45:16] Kathleen: So, from a scientific perspective, how do these functional foods, how can they influence our mood and decision making and potentially affect alcohol consumption?

[00:45:29] Brooke: Yeah, so essentially just that, right? They either provide a nutrient that is going to have a specific indication. So beets, for example, that contain vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 and folate and choline, these are nutrients really critical for the brain and for mood and for reducing anxiety. Uh, in, uh, in a similar manner, these nutrients also help with liver detoxification.

[00:45:59] [00:46:00] There are also, uh, a lot of these foods, uh, cruciferous vegetables are another big one. So things like broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage and kale. So yes, that yucky kale is actually really good for you. Um, but these help with upregulation of our liver detox pathways. So help with clearing waste out of the system, um, excess hormones out of the system, which can become backed up with heavy alcohol use.

[00:46:25] And so again, we can choose these foods that we know provide certain benefits. You know, again, if we know we're struggling with mood or with energy, um, my first recommendation would be, you should be eating beets and you should be eating them for breakfast, which sounds kind of silly, but in the book, I have a recipe for my Chocolate, uh, beet chocolate covered cherry smoothie, which is like a famous, my famous recipe.

[00:46:50] Um, but it's beets for breakfast and it's a really good energizer in the morning and mood lifter.

[00:46:56] Kathleen: Well, I am definitely a fan of beets, so I'm [00:47:00] going to get on the beet train for, for breakfast.

[00:47:03] Brooke: not a lot of people are beet fans, so I, I'm convinced that my, like, role in this, on this planet is to convince people to eat more beets. There's a lot of beet recipes in the book, and they're in a way that you can start to incorporate them.

[00:47:17] Kathleen: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

[00:47:17] Brooke: if you previously didn't like them or you're not quite sure about them, you could bring them in and kind of some easy, low hanging fruit ways to, uh, to get them in because they are so beneficial.

[00:47:30] Sonia: I think that should be your tagline beats for breakfast. I kind of love that.

[00:47:34] Brooke: Beets for breakfast.

[00:47:36] Sonia: So.

[00:47:36] Brooke: Brook, beets for breakfast.

[00:47:39] Sonia: So, Brooke, I know that our listeners are thinking. Thank you. I'm getting sober. I'm trying to exercise. I'm trying to meditate. And I always tell people, take it in baby steps when you're getting sober. And I know some of my clients are going to say, you said it was okay if I was having a bad day to eat ice cream

[00:47:58] But in your book, you really do talk [00:48:00] about the importance of a balanced diet. And so how can somebody start integrating functional foods into their diet without feeling overwhelmed. Like if Beats for Breakfast is, it's just like not gonna happen in the first couple of months. What are some other ways they can do it without feeling overwhelmed?

[00:48:19] Brooke: Yeah, and that's such a great question. It's important to not think of this as like going gung ho on a diet and like, you shouldn't be getting sober and going keto and intermittent fasting, all these other things that create a lot more stress in the system. But here's the thing. We're already eating three or more times per day.

[00:48:42] And so if we can just be a little bit more strategic about the choices that we're making, then we can have a lot of control over the way that we're feeling. People don't always recognize that food affects how we feel. It is one of the [00:49:00] main reasons that we might have energy on one day and no energy on the next day.

[00:49:05] It plays a critical role in our mood. It plays a critical role in our stress levels. And if we're going long periods of time and we're not eating, that's driving stress. And so it's really important to know that this doesn't have to be huge changes. This doesn't have to be overhaul. This is bringing in some simple recommendations like eating more frequently, increasing protein, trying to add some of these vegetables.

[00:49:33] And so it doesn't have to be this Complete overhaul. I think, um, the book is really light in that way, as it's not super prescriptive of here's exactly the, you know, the diet that you have to follow because it's really more about learning how these principles and these concepts, why they matter and how they're really impacting your body, because I believe that that's going to really help drive the choice.[00:50:00]

[00:50:00] Not, I have this list of 10 things and I'm eating it for this month because Dr. Brooke told me to. I want everyone to walk away and say, I learned this and I know that this affects my body positively, so I'm choosing that because I know that it's having an impact.

[00:50:16] Sonia: I think that is a great way to end. Um, and so what's next for you, Brooke?

[00:50:21] Brooke: Yeah, well, you know, I, so, We've spent so much of the last two years on the book and building some of the programs that we have through Functional Sobriety. And right now I'm working on a couple of new launches for our programs. We have an online network that is, um, mainly for women at this time, but it is, you know, we have weekly meetings, daily content.

[00:50:44] We also have online courses, ways that you can learn how to build your own nutrition plan. We also offer supplement packs that are designed specifically for women. specifically for Sober and Sober Curious. And so really right now, I'm continuing to just build this space where people [00:51:00] can come and learn more about not only these concepts, but be able to apply them more to their individual health and their individual lifestyle.

[00:51:09] So my goal is to just keep building that and bringing that out. And that's a lot of the work that I'm doing right now.

[00:51:16] Sonia: Thank you so much for being here, Brooke. You gave us So much information. I think our listeners are going to be so excited to incorporate some of these ideas into their lives.

[00:51:26] Brooke: Thank you so much for having me, thrilled to be here and hope to be back on the podcast another time soon.

[00:51:32] Kathleen: Thank you so much, Dr. Brook. It's a pleasure.

[00:51:35] Sonia, what resonated with you the most today about our episode with Dr. Brooke?

[00:51:41] Sonia: Yeah, I think what resonated with me most is I've struggled most of my life with anxiety and depression and I really do think that I was self medicating with alcohol and to think that I was making it worse and not only [00:52:00] just You know, because I was like hungover and tired and that obviously made it worse.

[00:52:04] But really that there was a scientific basis, that, I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed to make the building blocks to keep me healthy and happy. And so that really resonated with me. What resonated with you?

[00:52:20] Kathleen: You know, I know that we have seen the statistics, especially around the World Health Organization, that no longer, no amount of alcohol is healthy. And I, I still think people are so determined to hold on to that, right? Like hold on to the, once upon a time it was good for my health. And I can, I hear people in my life still saying that still saying, well, what's right and what's wrong.

[00:52:45] And I think. Dr. Brook really outlined how alcohol just really impacts so many of our bodily systems. from mood and gut health, which also are linked to everything that [00:53:00] happens, our functioning of our organs, um, makes me happy that I don't drink to be honest.

[00:53:06] Sonia: Thank you for listening to Sisters in Sorority and we'll see you next week.