When Does Alcohol Become Bad For Your Health?

When Does Alcohol Become Bad For Your Health?

When Does Alcohol Become Bad For Your HealthAlcohol is one of the most commonly used stimulants.  Even with economic stress, bars were and have continued to run smoothly.  People can’t wait to have that post-work beverage after a long and challenging day.  I definitely don’t disagree with this – I think moderate consumption of alcohol is fine.  But I am talking 2 glasses a week.  Why?  Don’t be foolish – alcohol consumption has many, many short and long-term side effects in the body.  Yet people find it therapeutic at times.  This is because alcohol releases GABA, a neurotransmitter which has a calming affect.  Are there any foods that have the same effect?  Foods like beets, spinach, kale, parsley, wheatgrass, sunflower seeds, eggs and chicken all contain Glutamine, the amino acid building block for GABA (which can indirectly impact GABA production).

This is why we reach for a glass in anxiety situations; it reduces energy levels.  In moderation, this is fine.  Like I said, 3 glasses of wine a week won’t kill you.  It’s crucial to find the balance.  Everything in moderation. The problem here is with binge drinking.

This is because, on the flip side, alcohol also releases Dopamine.  Dopamine makes you feel fantastic, which influences your decision to have another.  And another.  And another.  At this level, it begins altering the brains chemicals and actually can enhance depression.  It’s no wonder why anxiety and depression are so commonly associated with alcoholism.  Its a vicious cycle.  Lets go over these effects more closely.

Short-Term Effects 

According to the Foundation of Drug-Free World, common short-term side effects include:

  • vomiting/diarrhea
  • headaches
  • loss of breath
  • upset stomach
  • impaired judgment
  • unconsciousness
  • blackouts

There is no surprise here.  Alcohol dehydrates our body.  Dehydration in turn can cause head and body aches, while damaging the digestive organ strength.  This could result in vomiting and diarrhea.  Alcohol also strips our body of the precious minerals it contains.  The lack of minerals and healthy fats result in nerve damage, which lead to impaired judgment, unconsciousness and even blackouts.  At a more short-term level, this nerve damage can effect our mood, concentration, and motivation.  The cycle of problems that happen short-term are much too obvious.  You drink too much, blackout, wake up with confusion and depression, start out the new day poorly, make poor nutrition choices, lack energy, feel unhappy, get stressed out, feel anxiety, barely make it through your day, go to a pub, have end of the day drink, have another, have another.  The overall nutrient deficiency that alcohol creates is outstanding.  Lets not forget about how many calories are in alcohol too.  Weight gain and alcohol go hand in hand.  The few temporary pros associated with drinking will never out-weigh the many, permanent cons you can experience.

Long-Term Effects 

As already been stated, alcohol is related to nerve and brain damage, digestive issues, and mood disorders.  But what happens at the long-term level?  We must remember that alcohol is an addictive substance.  The scary thing about binge-drinking, is that the body adapts quite well to the lack of sleep, energy levels and digestive issues. Temporarily.  That’s why people continue to drink.  The “I can’t party like I used to” phrase might not be due to age, as much as how often it happens. Frequent drinkers hardly feel the hangover like a non-drinker will.  But eventually, it catches up and we set ourselves up for a vast array of health problems.

  1. Liver Damage.  This is (hopefully) the most obvious one.  I think of our liver as the most overworked organ in the body.  It is constantly organizing and storing proteins while producing enzymes to assist with digestion and excretion.  The daily work it has to do in a healthy person is hard enough!  The liver is damaged by drug and alcohol consumption.  These chemicals attack the liver, creating inflammation of the liver and toxicity in the body.  In more serious cases, jaundice, body swelling or liver cancer can develop.
  2. Cardiovascular Disease.  Drinking alcohol is linked to hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke or even heart failure.  We know it is also connected with Diabetes and obesity.  Alcohol has been thoroughly researched in regards to cardiovascular health.  There is not much more to say.  It ruins our chances for a long, healthy life.
  3. Intestinal Damage. The toxins from alcohol can strip all the healthy probiotics from the gut.  This in turn can cause many long-term side effects of the skin such as acne, aging or lustreless skin.  Other digestive issues can become more serious, like bleeding in the intestines, IBS or stomach ulcers.  Alcohol damages every organ it touches.
  4. Brain Damage – At the long term level, alcohol is associated with insomnia, depressive disorders, impairment of social skills, irritability, and poor memory.  This may be due to the nutritional deficiency in the body or also the electrolyte imbalance created.  A main characteristic of alcoholism is chronic fatigue!  Who can afford to be tired all the time?  We are already all too busy.

The short-term and long-term effects of alcohol aren’t pretty.  Although I like to stress the importance of balance, alcohol has a fine line.  We need to be mindful of the effects of this ever-so-popular drug.  While the short-term effects are more subtle, they lead to a scary place.  More so, they ruin the present life you hold.  You are so fortunate to be alive and well.  Fatigue, mood swings and stress are promoted from binge drinking at the smaller scale. While cardiovascular disease, liver, brain and digestive damage raise at the larger scale.  I ask you: Is it worth it?

Photo Credit

Vancouver Health Coach