If you are concerned about your present alcohol intake, read these 9 shocking surprises that alcohol has in store for your body and mind. Maybe, just maybe, you will be tempted to change your life. Sobriety is the new buzz word and the alcohol-free lifestyle is slowly taking hold of the world.
Pull off those alcoholic shackles, pull off that veil that is covering your eyes: look, see, listen and wake up people. Stop drinking. And now, without further ado, here are the 9 shocking surprises that alcohol has in store for your body and mind:
Sulfites in alcohol stimulate and worsen allergies and asthma
In addition, alcoholic drinks contain sugar, wheat, hops, barley, rye, yeast and grapes – many of which cause allergic reactions to many people. The more you imbibe, the worse your allergies will be and asthmatics should be very careful. Some people will get rashes and others will get breathing problems. Sulphites are preservatives found in many foods and drinks to increase shelf life, maintain colour and stop any fungi or bacteria growing in the food or drink. Some of the mixes you choose also contain them – lemon drinks, sodas, fruits, snacks and more.
The more you drink, the less you sleep and if you are an insomniac, that gets worse
Alcohol may aid with sleep onset due to its sedative properties, “allowing you to fall asleep more quickly. However, people who drink before bed often experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle as liver enzymes metabolize alcohol. This can also lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and other issues the following day. Furthermore, drinking to fall asleep can build a tolerance, forcing you to consume more alcohol each successive night in order to experience the sedative effects.” Some people experience nightmares when they drink because when they go to bed, their blood alcohol level drops and their sleep becomes shallower and they tend to awaken more often. This means they remember their dreams and have more REM sleep which in turn causes more vivid dreams, even nightmares. Upon waking in the morning, the drinker is so tired that he or she drinks again that night to sleep better but restarts the vicious cycle.
Alcohol is NOT the stress-reliever you thought it was – it actually increases your stress and adds anxiety to the mix
According to VeryWellMind, many people who experience stressful situations turn to alcohol to cope with that stress. The problem with that is alcohol itself can cause stress on the body’s physiological balance.
What people do not realise is that regular alcohol intake actually causes its own mental, emotional and physical negative effects on the drinker. Their stress gets worse and when they think that they are relieving their stress with a drink or 5, they are in fact increasing stress AND anxiety. Stress in itself has huge impacts on body and mind. “Physiologically, stress is defined as anything that challenges the body to function in its usual fashion. Injury, illness, or exposure to extreme temperatures can cause stress to the body. Grieving, depression, fear, and even sexual activity can cause psychological stress.”
Alcohol changes the hormone balance in the body and the way the body and mind react to stress. More cortisol is released when consuming alcohol which changes the brain’s chemistry. Cortisol is nicknamed the stress hormone but it is “an essential hormone that affects almost every organ and tissue in your body” including regulating your body’s stress response, helping control your use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates (metabolism), suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure, blood sugar and your sleep cycle.
You don’t digest alcohol, your body absorbs it
Instant gratification into your bloodstream and you are sooner drunk than fulfilled. The worst part about alcohol and digestion is that you will soon experience indigestion and stomach problems. Do you reach for the greasy food after a night out drinking? That also causes discomfort and you put on weight and just feel puffy and over-full.
You don’t create memories with alcohol, more likely you forget
Or you really want to forget when you wake up the next morning and remember what you said and did. Yes, alcohol affects short-term memory because it slows down the way our nerves communicate with each other in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. This is where we form and maintain memories. “Heavy alcohol use doesn’t only slow down the hippocampus, it can damage it. Alcohol can destroy nerve cells. This affects a person’s memory in the short and long term. In addition, people who drink too much alcohol are often deficient in vitamin B-1, or thiamine. This vitamin is vital to providing energy to brain and nerve cells.”
Alcohol is the cause of inflammation
Especially in your stomach lining, leading to reflux and other digestive discomforts. Yes, excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation. According to Alcohol Rehab Help, “gut microflora-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is one cause of inflammation. And alcohol can significantly increase the body’s transfer of LPS from the gut. In healthy individuals, the liver plays a key role in detoxifying LPS. But alcohol can damage the liver, as well as the central nervous system (CNS), which also plays a role in preventing inflammation. Basically, alcohol can not only cause inflammation, but it can also impair your body’s ability to regulate that inflammation. This inflammation can further damage your body’s organs. It’s a vicious cycle that can affect your long-term health.”
Drinking makes you older
Alcohol is linked to age in lots of ways. Everyone has to wait until age 18 or 21 to drink alcohol, and then, when they can, they don’t realise how fast their consumption of alcohol ages them! There go your looks and your healthy vigour! Heavy drinking impacts your immune system and your physical appearance. It dries your skin, dehydrates your body, weakens vital organs, slows your brain, weakens your immune system, weakens your heart and starts to make you feel really rotten – physically and mentally.
Drinking alcoholic drinks is a direct cause of cancer
Especially breast, throat, larynx and mouth cancers – then stomach, pancreas, liver and kidneys. Research shows that alcohol use is linked to a wide range of injuries and diseases, including cancer. Those who drink add to the already collapsing global burden of disease. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is causally linked to cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and oesophagus) and cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, and female breast.
The Lancet states that all these cancers caused by alcohol “contributed 6·3 million cases and 3·3 million deaths globally in 2020”.
Your hangovers get worse in tandem with the guilt and shame
Women’s Health magazine gives a trivial reason for this: When your blood alcohol concentration starts to drop (aka a hangover), your brain experiences boomerang-like shifts in the levels of certain chemicals,’ explains Dr Aparna Iyer, a US-based psychiatrist. ‘Alcohol mimics the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps people feel less inhibited – which is why you might feel extra chilled and gregarious while you’re drinking – but during the hangover the next day, the effects are reversed, causing anxiety to spike,’ she adds. The same goes for serotonin (the happiness hormone).
The article continues that “there is some evidence to suggest that the feeling of hangover shame could be worse for women. The liver plays a key role in regulating your hormones but when you’ve got it working overtime processing the toxins in alcohol, some of the day jobs falls by the wayside.” Women end up with too much oestrogen in their bodies and we all know that breast cancer is caused by this symptom.
We know better and we know that these feelings of guilt and shame could hark back to your childhood. If your drinking is starting to bother you, and your friends or family, maybe it is time to take a break?
We have been where you are now and we can help you to quit drinking and learn to thrive in your alcohol-free life!
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