An ice-cold beer or a glass of sweet wine tastes good and is fun, but can also have long term effects. Many people enjoy alcohol, be it cocktails at a party, champagne to toast on birthdays or just one beer to relax in front of the television. But people tend to forget that alcohol also has its downsides.
What happens immediately when you drink?
Alcohol lifts the mood and relaxes the body, but at the same time it is poison. After you take a sip of your drink, it only takes a few minutes until the alcohol is in your blood. Most of the alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and mouth mucosa. When the alcohol reaches your liver, it begins to break down the alcohol. The liver metabolizes 0,1 permille per hour. During this time, the alcohol already unfolds its effects in your body:
Alcohol disturbs signal processing in the brain – this is the so called “alcohol frenzy”. In this state alcohol stimulates the release of hormones that make us feel relaxed, but simultaneously, leads to miscommunication between nerve cells. The results are dropouts of motor, language and thinking skills. This leads to drunk people staggering, falling down and speaking in a slurred way. It also causes memory lapses, slowed reactions, aggression, nausea, headaches and a heightened risk of accidents. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, which leads to tiredness, confusion and disorientation. If you reached three permille it could cause life-threatening unconsciousness. Alcohol doesn´t contain useful nutrients for our body. This means that we only consume empty carbohydrates that mess with blood sugar levels and eventually get stored as fat.
Long term effects
If you drink alcohol on a regular basis, like every day, it can have many different consequences on your body that can be irreversible. In the long run, alcohol damages all organs, causes diseases from cancer to heart attacks, and heightens the risk of accidents. The liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol in your body. If you continuously drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the liver can get infected which can lead to liver cirrhosis, which means that the organ gets hard and shrinks. Detoxification is no longer possible, which also affects the rest of your body. Other than damaging the liver, alcohol can also lead to brain damage, cancer of the liver, mouth cavity, esophagus, throat or gut, as well as inflammation of your stomach or pancreas. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to myocardial disease, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia. Besides physical damage, you can also get mental impairments such as depressions or changes in your personality which can manifest in irritability, unreliableness, restlessness or anxiety. Also, what many people don´t know, alcohol can lower your sexual potency no matter the gender.
So… should we ban alcohol forever?
I´m not telling you to never ever drink alcohol again, but would like to create awareness. Does it really have to be a beer every evening on the couch or could it be an apple spritzer or non-alcoholic beer? You can go out with friends and have fun even if you´re not completely drunk.
It´s not about bans – it´s about doing something good for your body.
Author: Amelie Biedermann