A few drinks won't hurt. Or so we thought. Health guidelines indicate that average alcohol consumption (one drink for women and up to two drinks for men per day) isn’t that bad.
But a new study counters this claim. According to the research, the safest drinking level is zero. Yep, to stay safe from health risks, you should keep away from booze even if it’s just a couple of drinks.
Alcohol consumption doesn’t have the finest reputation when it comes to promoting overall health. In fact, it has been linked to anxiety, depression, violent behavior, and increased unprotected sex.
So, if you’re thinking to grab that glass of martini tonight, halt it. Find out how it can impair your memory, lower your sex drive, damage your liver, and increase your risk of various health concerns and unfortunate events.
What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Alcohol
When you drink alcohol, your blood immediately absorbs about 33 percent of it through your stomach lining. Your blood then slowly absorbs the remaining alcohol through your small intestine.
And since we all have permeable cell membranes, the alcohol gets diffused into almost every tissue in the body once it reaches the bloodstream.
When you drink so much more than you can handle, your blood alcohol level (BAL) shoots up.
How fast your BAL increases depend on several factors including your age, gender, weight, body composition, health profile, and the presence of certain medications.
But regardless of your BAL level, the mere presence of alcohol can adversely affect your health. Having a higher BAL only places you at greater risk.
Drinking more than the recommended alcohol intake of one drink for women, and two drinks for men per day is already deemed problematic. You’re considered binge drinking if you consume four to five drinks per day.
You’re already an alcoholic if you can no longer control your alcohol intake, and consume significantly larger volumes of booze. A professional treatment is already needed for such a case.
The thing, though, is anyone can be tempted to drink. But while this is true in many instances, the urge to drink can be fought, and alcoholism can be cured given the proper assistance.
There are also some tricks that you can do to quit drinking (we’ve included some below for you), so you can prevent the harmful effects of booze such as the following:
Alcohol consumption impairs your brainpower
Ever wake up the morning after a night of booze and solid partying without a memory of what exactly happened? Well, that’s temporary amnesia.
If you don’t stop this habit that you think is “fun”, you may be at risk of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), a combined manifestation of two brain disorders, Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome.
This illness is likely to occur among alcoholic individuals. Some of the symptoms of WKS include confusion, loss of muscle coordination, abnormal eye movements, difficulty forming new memories, hallucinations, and confabulations.
Other adverse alcohol effects on the brain include increased heart rate, aggression, and depression, shortness of breath, spasms, night terrors, and delusions.
These are commonly caused by the release of excess dopamine and GABA stimulated by drinking. Alcohol intake also discharges endorphins.
Excessive endorphin release can lead to lower sex drive and testosterone levels, infertility, depression, and extreme exhaustion among other complications.
Alcohol consumption damages your liver
Our liver health plays an important role in our overall wellness. The liver is the largest gland and internal organ responsible for hundreds of key functions. Once your liver is impaired, problems occur.
Unfortunately, alcohol is one of the causes of liver damage. And the greater the presence of alcohol, the more serious the harm it may cause, possibly leading to chronic diseases like cancer.
Excessive drinking also builds up fat in the liver, increasing the risk of fatty liver disease. This condition hampers the optimum functioning of the liver, which greatly affects the rest of the body.
If not treated immediately, it can lead to more serious liver problems such as alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. If such a condition occurs and drinking is not terminated, it can lead to liver failure, which is severely fatal.
Liver cancer also typically occurs when people with cirrhosis continue to drink.
Alcohol consumption causes gastritis and stomach inflammation
Not only is alcohol intake bad for your liver but your stomach as well. When you drink alcohol, your stomach produces more acid than normal, which can lead to gastritis.
Alcohol also irritates and inflames your stomach lining, which can cause bleeding of the stomach and ulcers. What’s worse, a torn stomach lining can cause anemia.
Alcohol intake also threatens your gallbladder health. Stomach pain after alcohol consumption may indicate chronic cholecystitis.
Alcohol consumption increases your risk of colon cancer
Alcohol intake, especially when done excessively or long-term or both, can cause adenoma, a benign tumor originating from glandular tissue.
Adenomas are commonly harmless at this stage, but they have the potential to develop into polyps. The bigger the polyps, the higher the risk of colon cancer.
Experts advise cutting alcohol consumption to prevent the risk of colon polyps and colon cancer.
Alcohol consumption raises your breast cancer risk
Alcohol use not only raises your risk for colon cancer but breast cancer as well. Several studies provided proof that drinking alcoholic beverages expose women to a higher risk of hormone-receptive-positive breast cancer.
Women who consume three drinks per week increase their breast cancer risk by 15 percent than women who don’t drink at all. According to experts, this risk goes 10 percent higher for every additional drink that women regularly consume per day.
Alcohol consumption causes cell damage
The central nervous system is likewise threatened by alcohol use. It may lead to several short-term effects such as blurred vision, slurred speech, weakened muscles, impaired memory, and slow reaction time.
When you excessively consume alcohol, you are also more likely to experience cell damage in your central nervous system, which can lead to a condition called neuropathy.
Symptoms of neuropathy may include temporary or permanent numbness, increased sensitivity to touch, urination and sexual function impairment, and muscle weakness.
Alcohol consumption makes your bones frail
Drinking alcohol also accelerates the deterioration of your bones, raising your risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, flushing out calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health. When this happens, your bones become weaker and more vulnerable to fractures.
Alcohol consumption adversely affects heart health
If you want to keep a healthy heart, quit drinking. Heavy alcohol use may lead to cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.
Also, when you consume alcohol, your blood pressure and blood lipids increase, raising your risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
How to Overcome Alcohol and Stay Sober
Maybe you are starting to feel the adverse effects of alcohol intake or maybe you don’t want to wait to reach that point. Whatever the reason, deciding to look for ways to quit drinking is a good starting point.
Quitting an old habit, most especially if it’s already become an addiction, is never easy. But you can do little things one step at a time to get you closer to your sobriety goals. Here’s how you can start:
Admit your drinking problem
It’s impossible to solve a problem you don’t want to admit having. Denial often gets in the way of solving whatever issue is at hand.
Admit that you have a drinking problem, so you can take further steps to address it. It’s the first essential step that you need in order to move forward towards your goals.
Identify your purpose for quitting
When aiming for a goal, it’s important to identify your purpose. You may be feeling the symptoms of alcoholism or heard of a friend who acquired an illness because of alcohol addiction.
These things may urge you to quit drinking because you don’t want the symptoms to progress or experience the same fate.
Or maybe, you just want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Have a clear purpose, so you’ll stay determined.
Distance from your drinking buddies
This is quite tricky, especially if your drinking pals are your colleagues at work, close friends or even family. But, this step is essential to keep your sobriety.
If you’re finding it difficult to fire your drinking buddies, just remember that your true friends will understand and respect your decision.
Once you’ve distanced yourself from your booze pals, build a new social circle that has the same purpose and goals as yours.
Make your decision known
A lack of communication often leads to conflicts. Avoid this from happening by making your choices known.
Let your drinking buddies, family, and friends know that you’ve finally decided to quit drinking and make healthier lifestyle choices. They are less likely to invite you for a drink because you made yourself clear first and foremost.
You may find the first 72 hours extremely challenging when you’re trying to quit drinking.
But this phase, particularly the acute withdrawal stage, signals the beginning of something wonderful as this means your body is starting to heal. Stick to your plans and stay determined to reach your goals.
If you have a more serious problem, and you think you are an alcoholic, it’s best to seek professional help. Experts know best how to treat your alcohol problems, so you can stay sober and prevent your symptoms from worsening.