A few drinks here and there is fun and all, but do you know the effects alcohol has on the body and brain? Even drinking in moderation can lead to serious health problems.
The consumption of alcohol is so ingrained in our society that it is almost a right of passage once you turn 21. However, alcohol is one of the deadliest drugs. Not only does it effect your body, brain and overall health, it leads to all sorts of bad behavior.
Due to it being the most socially acceptable drug on the market, the general public has a tendency to not consider just how dangerous it is. Alcohol kills more people annually than all other drugs combined. It kills over 95,000 people every year. Alcohol is the leading cause of preventable death in North America. It kills people over time through various types of organ damage, cancers and diseases. Additionally, it contributes to suicide, and car accident rates.
effects Alcohol Has On The Body And Brain
The effect alcohol has on the body is profound. It covers us from head to toe in damages and contributes to a much shorter, more painful life. Here is just some of the ways alcohol impacts the body.
1. Inflammatory Damage
Alcohol has major inflammatory affects. This means the bodies white blood cells are trying to protect the body from infections and bacteria. It causes scar tissue, swelling the more inflammation to our inner organs the more damage we do.
The effect alcohol has on the body can lead to liver inflammation, liver disease, and cirrhosis.
2. Abnormal Digestive & Endocrine Gland Activity
Too much alcohol can lead to abnormal digestive and endocrine gland activity. This means the pancreas gets blocked up with enzymes the lead to inflammation which then leads to pancreatitis. This is a long-term condition that has causes serious health problems.
3. Decrease Blood Sugar Levels
The pancreas works to help the body regulate blood sugar levels, insulin and responds to glucose. When the pancreas doesn’t function properly it can cause a drop in blood sugar levels. Additionally, pancreas damage prevents the body from creating insulin to use the sugar.
If our bodies can’t manage the blood sugar levels, it can lead to diabetes or hypoglycemia.
4. Central Nervous System Damage
Alcohol effects our central nervous system by reducing the communication between the body and brain. This affects speech, balance and can cause numbness and tingling sensations in hands and feet. This type of impairment is what leads to drunk driving accidents, memory loss and reduces our ability to make rational choices.
Additionally, over time, the effects of alcohol damage our frontal lobe which is responsible for emotional control, short-term memory, judgement and impulsivity. Chronic use of alcohol can lead to mental illness and brain disorders like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Heavy drinkers can often develop addiction to alcohol, both emotional and physical dependency. There are withdrawal symptoms that get worse and more persistent with long-time use. Some symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- heavy sweating
- irregular heartbeat
6. Anxiety & Depression
The effects alcohol has on the body also contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Drinking interferes with the brains chemicals that are crucial for mental health. Alcohol may provide temporary relaxation but in the long run it has huge negative impacts to our mental health.
7. Damage To Digestive Tract
Drinking interferes with regular stomach functions. It affects acid production which is meant to get rid of harmful bacteria and then allows that bacteria to enter the upper small intestine. This damages the mucus cells that line and protect the stomach which leads to inflammation, lesions and even ulcers.
8. Sexual Dysfunction & Infertility
Both men and women have heard many different terms that describe the effect alcohol has on our sexual organs. In men it can cause erectile dysfunction while in women it can cause to infertility.
9. Circulatory System Complications
The circulatory system is what pumps blood and nutrients throughout our body. It is helps with hormone regulation, waste removal, delivering oxygen and blood circulation. Alcohol can lead to heart-related problems like high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and heart disease.
10. Weakens Bones & Muscles
Long-term alcohol use weakens our bones and keeps them from getting stronger. It thins the bones and increases the risk of fractures as well as the makes the healing process slower.
11. Reduces Body’s Natural Immune System
Heavy drinking reduces the bodies immune system which makes us more susceptible to becoming sick. Long-term drinkers are at a high risk of developing pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Frequent drinking can lead to malnutrition because alcohol becomes a replacement for other types of nutrients. Not only does it not contain any health carbohydrates, proteins, minerals or vitamins, it actually inhibits the absorption of these vital nutrients.
13. Birth Defects
People who drink while pregnant can expect the babies to be born with birth defects, premature delivery, miscarriage or stillbirths. Additionally, drinking during pregnancy puts the unborn baby at risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other serious problems.
A lot of regular drinkers can attest to experiencing blackouts. These are gaps in memories that happened while the person was intoxicated. Alcohol temporarily blocks the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage. It is commonly referred to as memory consolidation and takes place in the area of the brain called the hippocampus.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause temporary psychosis that includes experiencing hallucinations. Hallucinations can also be a severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal.
16. Shrinking Brain
The effects alcohol has on the brain can cause the brain to shrink and become deficient in white matter. These white matter fibers are what carry information between brain cells. It can lead to daily mental, emotional and physical dysfunction.
Drinking alcohol reduces the part of the sleep cycle known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Loosing this part of the sleep cycle leads to fatigue, low energy, drowsiness and a decrease in concentration.
18. Tooth Decay
The high sugar content and acidity in alcohol can cause the enamel in our teeth to breakdown. The enamel is what prevents cavities, decay and mouth diseases. Additionally, people who are drunk may forget to brush their teeth as often as they need to.
Overall, the effects alcohol has on our body and brain far outweigh the benefits. It is important to practice safe alcohol consumption, never drive drunk and always drinking with trusted people.