Alcohol- Do You Know ALL of the Side Effects?

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Alcohol affects the body from top to bottom. While a rare drink isn’t so bad, it’s the abuse of alcohol that takes a toll on your health. Every organ takes a hit. Whether you like it or not, it’s not your body’s best friend. Though having a drink now and then won’t destroy you, it’s important to be aware of the results of its chronic consumption.

Side Effects Include…

Brain 

You may be feeling good on the outside, but on the inside, your brain is going haywire. In the long-term, alcohol is shown to shrink the frontal lobes of the brain, shortening attention-span and memory and lowering your ability to perform regular tasks as well as taking on challenges. And just because a person claims to be a functioning alcoholic does not mean they aren’t affected, as MRI scans prove otherwise. [1] In some cases, the damage is permanent. This includes personality changes, poor judgment, hallucinations, and Korsakoff syndrome, a type of dementia. [2]

Heart

With heart disease being a top killer, prevention is all the more essential. [3] Aside from getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, you can further increase the odds in your favor by limiting alcohol. Excess alcohol intake increases triglycerides, a type of fat in the bloodstream that contributes to heart disease once its levels get dangerously high. [4] On top of that, alcohol also weakens and thins out heart muscle; eventually, it starts to fail. Before then, its ability to pump out blood becomes hindered. Which is already extremely concerning, since the heart helps to pump out nutrients and oxygen to other organs in the body! [5]

Lungs

Thought smoking was bad for your lungs? Try drinking! In cases of overconsumption, Alcoholic Lung Disease (ALD) can potentially develop. While ALD isn’t an official diagnosis, it’s still well-known within the medical community. [6] However, studies have shown the harmful effects of chronic alcohol use. It harms the cells that line the insides of the lungs and upper and lower parts of the airway. And it also kills off the good bacteria in the mouth and throat, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous, infectious bacteria (similar to what happens down in the gut in cases like candida). [7] Studies show that alcoholics are more likely to be infected by respiratory viruses and develop pneumonia, tuberculosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). [8]

Pancreas and Liver

Both the pancreas and the liver take a massive hit from too much alcohol.

It’s highly inflammatory, and in the pancreas, it causes the blood vessels that surround it to swell, which over time leads to pancreatitis. Some of the symptoms of pancreatitis include nausea, abdominal pain (especially after eating), fever, and foul-smelling stool (steatorrhea). When left untreated, pancreatitis will further lead to nutrient deficiencies, pancreatic cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, and either bleeding, cysts, or infections in the pancreas. [9]

As for the liver, alcohol is infamously known for causing fatty liver disease, along with hepatitis (scar tissue), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and, potentially, cancer. Once the liver is damaged, it becomes more difficult for it to remove toxins from the body. This is what a lot of the “detox” products on the market fail to realize. Real liver damage is often due to inflammation from heavy alcohol use, and there’s no amount of laxative herbs that can restore a damaged liver. [10] [11] 

Digestion

Time to talk gut health! What, you thought I wouldn’t cover my pet topic? Sure enough, even your digestion suffers due to chronic alcohol use. Some sources believe that by the time you start to notice any effects, the damage will already be done. Too much alcohol can hinder your intestine’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients which, over time, leads to malnutrition. And it’s not unusual for heavy drinkers to experience gas, bloating, loose stools, cramps, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). As for those good bacteria that work for the good of our health 24/7, it’s research shows that chronic alcohol use causes dysbiosis (imbalances) down in the gut (not to mention inflammation). [12] [13] [14]

Bones

As if this list couldn’t get even longer, there’s plenty of research showing the adverse effects of alcohol on our bones. Osteoporosis, fractures, and bone disease are all linked to high alcohol intake. According to a recent study, alcohol was shown to interfere with the body’s ability to “remodel” and create new bones. Which is why you may want to pass on that drink if you’re recovering from a fracture! [15]

Final Thoughts

Does this mean you should give up alcohol entirely? Well, it depends. If you can control yourself and limit it to just one drink, sure, maybe. Better, if you reserve that drink for infrequent, special occasions (such as a holiday get-together or a wedding), then a mindful indulgence should be OK. However, if you’re doing it to feel comfortable or fit in, then please consider the long-term consequences. A lot of young people are aware of them and follow what’s known as the Sobriety Movement to take better care of themselves. As for me, I’ll enjoy a drink every once in a while. But in all honesty, I don’t enjoy the hangovers or tipsiness. But I can still be around people who drink and have a great time while staying sober!

Let’s hear from you, though. What are your thoughts on drinking? What do you think about these side effects? Are you going to be limiting your intake, or do you think the dose makes the poison? Tell me in the comments! 

Sources:

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131119193624.htm
[2] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325644.php
[3] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/cardiomyopathy
[6] http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh311/66-75.htm
[7] https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/faq/does-alcohol-affect-your-lungs/#gref
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590617/
[9] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20360227
[10] https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/alcohol-related-liver-disease/
[11] https://liverfoundation.org/alcohol-and-your-liver-2/
[12] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa22.htm
[13] https://www.virtua.org/articles/how-does-alcohol-affect-irritable-bowel-syndrome
[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26695747
[15] https://www.verywellmind.com/heavy-drinking-can-contribute-to-bone-disease-67363

Source: Zuzka Light

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