There is no doubt that drinking a bit of alcohol with a good level of moderation in check can lead to quite a few benefits. However, drinking alcohol in excess or on a regular basis can actually cause some serious problems like increasing the risk of developing chronic illnesses, severe addiction, and various other problems related to your health.
Ethanol is the primary ingredient in all alcohols and its biological effects on our body are pretty up-front. The problem is that alcohol itself is a very complex compound and its effects on every individual can be very different. Many different factors play a huge role in how a specific type of alcohol will affect your body in both long and short terms. The type of alcohol and the amount of it you consume can all lead to different results and variations in your health.
Alcohol Is Probably Worse Than You Think
Alcohol can be considered a recreational drug and a very powerful one at that. It has an ability to exert very strong effects on your mood and how you act. Most often this is by lowering your ability to inhibit yourself, which results in you acting differently than you would if you were sober. The frequent result of alcohol intake in larger quantities is doing or saying something that you end up regretting down the line.
Ethanol is produced in alcohol when it’s fermented from foods that are super rich in carbohydrates. Grains are commonly used in beers, while grapes and other fruits are generally used in wines. As the yeast breaks down the sugars from these foods, ethanol is formed and the result is an alcohol of a certain type.
The liver is the organ responsible for processing alcohol. It also happens to be the organ which neutralizes and removes many toxins from our body. If alcohol is consumed in large quantities, our liver ends up being effected in a negative way. The impact of heavy alcohol consumption on the liver is drastic and compromises the livers’ ability to work properly and continue removing harmful toxins from the body.
It is estimated that out of 10 people, 9 will develop fatty liver disease if they consume just half an ounce of pure alcohol on a daily basis. The problem with fatty liver disease is that it has no clear early symptoms, but luckily it can usually be reversed by changing the habits of the person who has the disease.
When you binge drink alcohol or consume it in very large amounts, the story becomes a lot more complex. In that situation, you have a great chance of developing inflammation of the liver. This inflammation can lead to a severe condition known as cirrhosis, in which your livers cells start to die and your body replaces them with scar tissue, instead. This condition is irreversible and often causes very serious health problems that can be difficult to deal with.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption Short & Long Term Health Issues
Here are some of the ways that alcohol can affect your body in a negative way:
There is a lot of research that indicates a relationship between depression and alcohol. It turns out that each of these makes it more likely to introduce the other, meaning that if you are suffering from depression you have a higher chance of adding excess alcohol consumption into the mix and vice versa. However, it seems that consuming alcohol is actually the dominant factor between the two, thus depression is more likely to occur if you consume excessive amounts of alcohol.
Many people make the mistake to consume alcohol in an attempt to improve their depression or anxiety by relaxing their mood. The problem is that one can lead to the other and you end up creating a cycle of depression, anxiety, and alcohol consumption which can lead to other mental health problems.
Some people can develop depression when they drink heavily, and in most cases, you can see improvements once alcohol abuse becomes treated.
There is a big difference between light drinking of alcohol and heavy drinking of alcohol. A careful analysis of all the data related to studies and research done on alcohol and its effects on the body indicate that light drinking of alcohol can actually improve your heart health while heavy drinking does the complete opposite and even has a chance to increase the risk of developing related conditions.
Light alcohol consumption can lead to the improvement of HDL cholesterol, also known as the good type of cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and even a reduced amount of stress and anxiety for a short duration of time.
Even moderate consumption of alcohol has huge risks related to mouth and throat cancer. It is estimated that consuming alcohol moderately or excessively can increase the risk of mouth or throat cancer development by 20 percent. That’s a staggering number.
Research indicates that those who drink alcohol regularly are often more likely to have liver, breast, or colon cancer. As you increase the consumption of alcohol, the risk factors associated with cancer also become increased.
In Western countries, light and moderate alcohol consumption actually seem to reduce the chances of premature death. On the other side, alcohol abuse is actually ranked as the third leading cause of preventable deaths.
These figures include death related to physical conditions which are associated with excessive alcohol intake as well as fatalities related to traffic incidents and social situations.
The major reason that you act the way you do when inebriated is due to ethanol’s ability to affect your brain cells. It causes the communication between each cell to decrease, resulting in many of the symptoms associated with being drunk.
Another side effect often experienced after very heavy alcohol consumption is known as a “blackout.” This happens when damage to the brain is so severe that temporary memory loss occurs. If this type of behavior continues to occur, the brain will not be able to handle it and this can eventually open the door to all types of chronic brain-related diseases, as well as long-term impaired functions.
Consuming extremely high quantities of alcohol on a daily basis can cause the risks of developing dementia to rise significantly. Those who are middle-aged or older can even end up with their brain shrinking due to this heavy alcohol abuse.
On the other hand, if you observe light, careful alcohol consumption the chances of developing dementia are actually reduced.
If you are on your way to losing weight and getting to your target goal, it might be a good idea to cut out as much alcohol as possible. Alcohol is actually super high in calories, and it contains about 7 calories in 1 single gram. The types of alcohol and their calorie content also matter. For example, beer has enough sugar in it to be easily comparable to a soft drink, while wine has almost double. So next time you grab that bottle of beer or a glass of wine, think about what it does to your weight.
Obviously, those who consume more alcohol have a higher chance of gaining more weight and those who are drinking with moderation in mind usually are able to keep their weight controlled much better. However, since alcohol consumption is a recreational activity it might be best to omit it all together if you are trying to lose weight.
We should mention that it’s more likely to gain weight if you are a beer drinker. However, there are some studies that point to wine as actually being able to help you lose weight as long as it’s consumed lightly.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a huge problem around the world. Roughly 8 percent of the world’s population is suffering from this metabolic disorder. Insulin resistant is highly present in type 2 diabetics, which means they aren’t able to intake sugar through their cells as easily as someone not suffering from the disease. Consuming alcohol in light and moderate quantities actually seems to impact this problem in a positive way.
Some studies have pointed out that blood sugar levels among diabetics who decided to consume alcohol during dinner rather than water are actually lower by between 16 percent and 37 percent. On the other hand, heavy drinking had a completely opposite effect and was discovered to even increase your chances of developing diabetes.
Preventable birth defects are predominantly caused by alcohol abuse during pregnancy in the US. This should be more than enough of a reason to completely cut out alcohol consumption if you are pregnant.
High alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to very serious conditions and issues that can impact the behavior, intelligence, and growth of your baby as well as negatively impact other factors of your baby’s development. These issues can leave your baby scarred for life.
Nearly 12 percent of all Americans are alcohol dependent. This means that one in every 9 people in the United States is affected by alcoholism at one point or another during their lifetime.
There are many different ways to tell if you are a victim of alcoholism. Craving alcohol is the number 1 sign of becoming alcohol dependent. An inability to choose between drinking and not drinking is another. If you frequently lose self-control when you do drink, there is a pretty high risk that you are alcohol dependent.
Studies have shown that genetics and history in the family might be a strong risk factor associated with alcoholism. Your social environment and mental health also play a huge role in your chances of developing alcoholism.
If you find that alcohol has a negative effect on your life or it is causing issues in your life, you might have an alcohol dependency. We recommend seeking help as soon as possible.
Alcohol Consumption Summary
In moderate quantities, alcohol has shown to be somewhat beneficial and actually improve certain health factors. However, there are situations in which you should avoid alcohol consumption entirely, such as pregnancy or if you are trying to lose weight.
Heavy alcohol consumption carries many different problems with it. Your brain, heart, liver, and many other parts of your body can be negatively affected by drinking a heavy amount of alcohol. All of this can lead to various chronic conditions and problems which can drastically increase your mortality rate.
Alcohol can be addicting. You should pay close attention to what your relationship with alcohol is. If you find it difficult to decide whether or not you should drink, can’t control yourself while drinking, or find that alcohol causes problems in your life, then it is a good idea to talk to someone as soon as possible. Talking to your doctor should be your number one priority.
If you or anyone you care about has alcohol addiction and is struggling with it, call this number to get in contact with a treatment support specialist: 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357). The road to recovery is only one phone call away.