Alcohol and Your Health
Alcohol or ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient that you will find in wine, beer and hard liquor. Alcohol is made naturally from carbohydrates when certain micro-organisms metabolize them in the absence of oxygen. This process of making alcohol is called fermentation.
When alcohol is consumed it is metabolized fairly quickly. Unlike the food you eat that takes time to digest, alcohol does not have to be digested and can be quickly absorbed. About 20% of alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and can reach the brain within one minute. About 10% of alcohol is let out through breath and urine. After the stomach absorbs the alcohol it then moves onto the small intestine and travels to the liver. The liver cells are the only cells in your body that can produce enough of the enzymes needed to oxidize alcohol at a decent rate. Alcohol affects every organ in the body but its biggest impact is on the liver. The liver is able to metabolize about ½ ounce of alcohol an hour. If more alcohol arrives than the liver can handle then the alcohol travels to all parts of the body until the liver is able to process it.
Because of the fact that alcohol affects the liver and every other organ, and cell in your body it can cause a multitude of issues with your health.
For instance it can cause health effects such as:
- Arthritis – alcohol affects your health but increasing the risk of gouty arthritis
- Cancer – alcohol affects your health by increasing the risks of cancer in the liver, pancreas, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a huge effect of alcohol and your health if you are pregnant. FAS can lead to physical and behavioral problems in the fetus.
- Heart disease – Alcohol affects your health by raising your blood pressure, blood lipids, and your risk of stroke.
- Hyperglycemia -Raises blood glucose
- Hypoglycemia – Alcohol affects your health by lowering blood glucose especially in those with diabetes
- Kidney disease – Alcohol affects your health by enlarging the kidneys, can alter hormone functions and increase the risk of total kidney failure.
- Liver disease – Alcohol affects your health by causing a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis or scarring of the liver.
- Malnutrition – Alcohol affects your health directly by increasing the risks of protein-energy malnutrition, low protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, Vitamin C, thiamine, and vitamin B6.
- Nervous Disorders – Alcohol can affect your health by causing neuropathy and dementia and it also impairs balance and memory.
- Obesity – Alcohol affects your health by increasing the amount of energy you need.
- Psychological – Alcohol affects your health by causing psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.
The truth about alcohol and your health is that if it consumed in small amounts on varying occasions it is not really a health hazard but when copious amounts of alcohol are consumed, regularly, or when you get drunk than you are doing damage to your body. Alcohol affects all aspects of your health not just one part of it. Alcohol can affect your mental, emotional and physical well-being. So if you are going to drink do it consciously.