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Serious Health Effects Alcohol Has on Our Bodies

Hi, my name is Katie DeBakey and I'm just trying to spread the good word about physical health and emotional wellbeing.

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There are all sorts of articles floating around the internet outlining the benefits of giving up alcohol and I think that’s fantastic because quite frankly, the benefits are endless. You can experience, weight loss, better skin, better sleep, more energy, and beyond. But I’d actually like to outline the very serious harm alcohol is causing to those of us who don’t really see the above benefits as reason enough to give up our after work ‘’relaxation’’ sessions (filled with booze) or our weekend fun times (also filled with booze).

Without further a due, let’s get into it.

Brain Damage

Alcohol is one of the few substances that can cross your blood-brain barrier. This means that alcohol and can get inside and actually touch your brain. Think about how alcohol feels on your tongue; The burning, stinging, dehydrating sensation that makes everyone wince or reach for a chaser. Now think about that substance on your brain and of all the damage it is causing.

Alcohol causes damage to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for emotional control, short term memory, and judgement. Repeated heavy alcohol use eventually results in permanent damage inhibiting the brain from retaining new memories. It can cause emotional disturbances and retardation, lack of ability to make solid judgment calls, and brain cell death.

Liver Damage

Your liver is the second most complex organ in your body next to the brain. It filters toxins from your blood, aids in food digestion, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, fights infection and disease, and regulates hormone production, among a few hundred other vital bodily functions. You could say it’s pretty important to keep it healthy and running well.

Alcohol is actually a poison and nothing else. It is ethanol. We use it as fuel in our cars and as antiseptic to kill bacteria, which are living organisms that cannot survive said poison. When you ingest alcohol, your liver treats it as such, and it puts all other functions on the back burner in order to filter out all of the alcohol as quickly as possible. In dealing with such a poison on a regular basis, the liver will inevitably become damaged and your overall health will suffer. First, the liver becomes fatty, and then develops fibroids; both conditions of which are reversible with abstinence and diet correction. But once the liver becomes scarred, that is called liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is deadly and unfortunately, generally not reversible. Some complications of liver cirrhosis are as follows…

  • High blood pressure.
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen.
  • Enlargement of the spleen.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Infections.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Toxin buildup in the brain.
  • Jaundice.
  • Bone disease.
  • Liver cancer.
  • Multiorgan failure.
  • Toxin and waste buildup in the body.

Pancreatitis

Your pancreas is responsible for releasing enzymes into your small intestine to aid in food digestion and it releases insulin and glucagon into your bloodstream to help control how your body utilizes food for energy. Excess alcohol consumption can damage and enflame the pancreas. This inflammation is called Pancreatitis. Once the pancreas is inflamed enough, it will not be able to perform these very necessary functions. This inevitably will lead to poor nutrient absorption, unbalanced blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of diabetes or exacerbation of diabetes.

Circulatory Damage

Any amount of alcohol has an effect on the heart muscle and circulatory system. Chronic alcohol use or abuse will eventually cause elevated blood pressure, an increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, and a weakened heart muscle. These effects seem like a recipe for heart disease to me. Not to mention, heart arrhythmias, also referred to as atrial fibrillation, increase your risk of having a stroke by five times! These arrhythmias can cause blood clots to form in the heart and if those clots move to the brain, that is when a stroke can occur. Too much alcohol can increase the platelets in the blood which can lead to clotting. Long term, excessive drinking causes consistent platelet activation, increasing the risk of blood clots that can travel anywhere in the body including the lungs and brain, causing serious damage and even death.

Depression

As many of us already know, alcohol is a depressant. It binds to the receptors of the neurotransmitters, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is responsible for producing feelings of sedation and calmness and depresses the central nervous system which controls breathing and heart rate. Those who drink even somewhat regularly are constantly affecting the balance of neurotransmitters in their brain. This balance isn’t restored as soon as one sobers up after a night of drinking. It can take days to return to normally. If you are drinking even just two or three times a week, your brain being depressed over and over and may not have the full amount of time needed to completely bounce back.

We all know that people can become highly emotional when drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion but what a lot of us don’t realize is that repeated use of alcohol actually alters our mood in a depressive way continuously over time. This can bring you slowly down to an emotional level that greatly effects your overall wellbeing, your work, and your relationship with others. So, before you chalk up your current depressed state to a chemical imbalance that is uncontrolled without anti-depressants, talk to your doctor about the effects that giving up booze may have on your emotional wellbeing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Katie DeBakey

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