Lots of us enjoy a tipple every now and again, but, aside from wobbly legs, the inability to form a proper sentence, and a hazy head the next day, we don’t often think about what alcohol actually does to our bodies.
Here’s the lowdown on exactly what happens to your body after you hammer the hard stuff.
Alcohol has an effect on the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. This is why when individuals become drunk, they may have trouble moving the way they want to, or as quickly as expected. Slurring words and losing balance is the common result.
Excessive alcohol over time can take its toll on your pancreas by causing the organ to produce toxic substances when it is consumed in bulk. This may result in pancreatitis which is a painful illness that disrupts normal digestion.
Many people don’t realise that alcohol has an effect on the heart too, and not always the positive one we tend to use as an excuse for knocking back the wine. Too much alcohol can actually increase the sensitivity of the myocardium, potentially inducing arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) in susceptible individuals.
If you go heavy on the sauce, go easy on training the next day and allow your body some recovery time.
Drinking too much alcohol can have a negative effect on the liver in particular, especially if it’s a frequent occurrence. Conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver can occur if the individual abuses alcohol heavily over time, but there are other conditions too such as fatty liver that can occur in heavy drinkers as a result of over indulging.
5. Excess Calorie Consumption
Just like fizzy drinks, ‘alco-pops’ in particular are packed with sugar. This is important to be aware of if you are counting your calories and a fact many people who train really hard in the gym and have great nutrition through the week fail to account for in their calorie allowance.
The same can be said for mixers with spirits. Many people will mix drinks with fizzy drinks and not consider their overall calorie intake including the drinks. Be aware that wine, cider and beer are also pretty calorie-dense too, hence the term ‘beer belly’.
Most of us are familiar with the symptoms of too much drinking, and those feelings of illness the morning after the night before. Hangovers generally begin when your blood-alcohol levels drop close to zero in the body.
Common hangover symptoms include but are not limited to nausea, headaches, shakes and a decreased ability to concentrate.
Curing A Hangover
Unfortunately, hangover ‘cures’ generally don’t exist (sigh).
Of course, prevention is better than cure, but if you do find yourself in a bad way after painting the town red, make sure you drink plenty of fluids as many of the symptoms of a hangover are in fact caused by dehydration.This is due to the nature of alcohol being a diuretic, which means it actually removes fluids from the body.
Hangovers do tend to pass themselves, but here are some tips that may help you avoid a bad one in the first place:
✓ Keep an eye on your alcohol intake, the less that you drink the more likely it is that you will escape without a hangover.
✓ Alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. This may help you moderate how much alcohol you drink and will also help to prevent dehydration.
✓ Eat as you drink, or at least drink on a well-lined stomach by eating a good meal before you begin. Food will help to slow down the speed that your body absorbs alcohol.
✓ Drink some water before you go to sleep at night. Again this will help you stave off dehydration helping to prevent some of the symptoms that a hangover can cause.
Take Home Message
Although drinking can be a social outlet for many of us, it can have negative effects on our health too. Moderation is key if you’re going to enjoy alcohol, and keep track of the amount that you are drinking to include it in your calorie intake so that it does not hinder reaching your goals.