Drinking more than fourteen units a week on a regular basis is harmful to your long-term health and increases the risk of dangers of alcohol on the body. While we are often told to limit our alcohol intake, the negative implications of not doing this aren’t always clear.
In this article, we explore how excessive drinking can affect individual areas of the human body and why limiting alcohol consumption is the best choice for your health and wellbeing.
Alcohol and sugar
Alcoholic drinks are full of sugar, accounting for 10% of 29 to 64-year-olds in the UK’s daily intake of added sugar, and 6% for over 65s. The carbonated drinks that are often mixed with spirits are also full of sugar. We all know the risks associated with consuming too much sugar - it’s high in calories, and excessive consumption can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Alcohol and the heart
The heart muscles can actually weaken if you drink too regularly. This is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Symptoms include extreme tiredness, irregular heartbeat and in extreme cases this can lead to heart failure.
Alcohol and the liver
Alcohol is quickly soaked up through the lining of the stomach and the upper part of the gut and into your bloodstream. The higher the concentration of alcohol, the faster it will be absorbed. From there, the alcohol is carried to your liver where it can damage liver cells and cause mutations. This could result in anything from cirrhosis to liver cancer over time.
Alcohol and headaches
Ethanol is a natural diuretic. This means that alcohol stimulates the body to excrete vitamins, minerals, and salt through the kidneys, which could lead to dehydration and chemical imbalances. Dehydration represents an imbalance of bodily fluids and nutrients in the body, affecting blood flow and pressure to the brain. This is a common cause of headaches.
Alcohol and the stomach
Alcohol can increase the amount of acid in the stomach and irritate the lining of the stomach. Drinking too much alcohol can cause gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. This can bring feelings of pain and sickness while drinking but can also be a long-term condition. If untreated, gastritis could result in stomach ulcers. Drinking alcohol can both cause and irritate stomach ulcers, and if these are left without attention they can be fatal.
Alcohol and blood pressure
Drinking too much alcohol can release hormones or affect the muscles in your blood vessels, causing them to constrict. When your blood vessels are narrower, the heart has to work much harder to move blood around your body. High blood pressure is the most common alcohol-related health problem and is dangerous if left untreated.
Now that you know all about the dangers of alcohol on the body, consider how you might be able to decrease your alcohol consumption and avoid these health issues in the future.