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How Alcohol Affects Your Body?

How Alcohol Affects Your Body?

1. Brain
•Alcohol reaches your brain 30 seconds after your first sip.
•It affects the mechanism by which the brain send messages by slowing it down, which results in a slow reflex, altered mood and imbalance.
•You also can’t think straight and you’ll struggle to store things in long-term memory.
•Too much alcohol can change your brain’s cells and cause it to shrink in size which will have a big effect on your ability to remember things, learn and think.
•It can also make it harder to control your movement and to keep a steady body temperature.

2. Sleep
•Even-though alcohol may cause you to doze off more easily, but you won’t sleep well.
•You won’t get that good sleep your body needs to feel restored, since your body processes alcohol throughout the night, and once the effect wears off, it leaves you tossing and turning.
•You’re more likely to have nightmares and vivid dreams.
•Trips to the bathroom will probably interrupt your sleep and wake you up more often.

3. Stomach and GI Tract
•Alcohol makes your digestive juices flow and irritates the lining of your stomach.
•When enough acid and alcohol build up in the stomach, you may throw up.
•Alcohol also relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of esophagus which results in a heartburn.
•Heavy drinkers are more at risk to develop painful sores called ulcers.
•Long-term drinkers often don’t get all the nutrients they need, since high levels of stomach juices suppress appetite.
•Alcohol interferes with the normal speed that food moves through the small intestine and colon.
•Heavy drinkers can experience diarrhea, which can turn into a long-term problem.

4. Heart
•Alcohol alters the electrical signals that keeps heart’s rhythm steady.
•Heart muscles stretches with time and can’t pump blood as well, which impacts every part of the body.

5. Kidney
•Alcohol tells your brain to hold the hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine, means you have to pee more often which can leave you dehydrated.
•This extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol for years can wear your kidneys down.

6. Liver
•Liver breaks down almost all the alcohol in the body, means it handles a lot of toxins.
•Over time, alcohol causes the liver to become fatty, thick, and fibrous tissue builds up.
•Fibrous tissue restricts blood flow from entering the liver, which causes liver cells to die. Withtime, the liver gets scars and stops working well, a disease called cirrhosis.

7. Diabetes
•Pancreas is the organ responsible of making insulin and other chemicals that help your intestines break down food.
•Alcohol alters that process, by which it traps toxins from alcohol along with chemicals inside the pancreas. This accumulation causes inflammation in the pancreas.
•With time, pancreas won’t be able to make the insulin, which can lead to diabetes.

8. Immune System
•The next 24 hours after drinking, you’re more likely to get sick, since alcohol weakens your immune system, by which your body can’t produce the numbers of white blood cells it needs to fight intruders.
•Long-term, heavy drinkers are more prone to get illnesses like tuberculosis and pneumonia.

9. Bones and Muscles
•Heavy drinking can cause the bones to get thinner and more fragile by throwing off your calcium levels, a condition called osteoporosis.
•Alcohol also gets in the way of building up of proteins by limiting blood flow to your muscles.
•Over time, you’ll have lower muscle mass and less strength.

10. Body Temperature
•Alcohol causes more blood to flow to your skin by widening your blood vessels.
•Vasodilation makes body blush and feel warm but not for a long time, since the heat from that extra blood passes right away causing your temperature to drop.
•On the other hand, heavy drinking on the long term makes the body release stress hormones that narrow blood vessels which boosts blood pressure causing the heart to pump harder to push blood through.

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon