What Alcohol Does to Your Body
Your Body and Alcohol
We all know that alcohol is not exactly a healthy drink. But do you know what it really does to your body? An occasional drink isn’t often a problem, but heavy drinking – defined as more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men – can lead to some serious health issues.
Drinking alcohol creates an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut. This can mean an overgrowth of bacteria, a disruption to your immune system, and more endotoxins being released, which results in inflammation.
Heavy drinking can also lead to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut happens when your intestinal walls weaken, creating holes that allow undigested food, toxins, and bacteria to leak into your bloodstream. They travel through your blood to other organs and body parts, bringing inflammation with them.
Drinking alcohol increases inflammation throughout your entire body. Inflammation is a natural immune response if you’re sick or injured. Imagine having a swollen, sore throat or a sprained ankle...that swelling is inflammation. It’s part of the healing process, protecting and repairing your damaged tissue. But if that inflammation becomes chronic, it puts you at greater risk for diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Plus if you suffer from an auto-immune disease, you are constantly battling inflammation already.
Heavy drinking hurts your immune system, so you may notice you’re catching colds or the flu more often. Your body just can’t fight off infections as quickly or effectively as a healthy body. You not only may get sick more often, but you may also have a harder time recovering.
When we think about alcohol, we often think about how it’s affecting our liver. Your liver is responsible for detoxifying your blood. But when your liver can’t keep up with the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, it takes a toll. Heavy drinking can lead to liver disease. Almost all heavy drinkers will develop fatty liver, and some will go on to develop alcoholic hepatitis or alcohol-related cirrhosis.
Fatty liver is an early stage of alcoholic liver disease, developing in most people who drink more than one or two drinks per day. The good news is that, at this stage, you can most likely reverse the effects by eliminating alcohol consumption for four to six weeks.
But if you continue to drink, you can go on to develop alcoholic hepatitis, an inflammation of your liver cells, or alcohol-related cirrhosis, where scar tissue replaces normal liver tissue. Cirrhosis is the advanced stage of liver disease and is not reversible. Even if you abstain from alcohol, your scarred liver can’t do its job effectively. Cirrhosis will likely lead to liver failure.
Keep Your Body Healthy
Heavy drinking can have some serious health consequences. It can cause inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and a weakened immune system. It can damage your liver and even lead to liver failure.
While the occasional drink will not have any lasting effects on your body, if you're sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, it's best to avoid alcohol altogether. Plus, if you are having several drinks per day, most days of the week, you could be seriously hurting your health.
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To your health,
The content on heartroothealth.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.