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Alcohol: The good/bad/ugly truth

Alcohol: The good/bad/ugly truth abut it

Any Get together, festivities and celebrations are incomplete for some,

without proper food and hard drinks! 

Although alcohol intake has always been a debated topic, there are a few good things that are also associated with moderate alcohol intake. 

Continue reading to know the facts about 'good', the 'bad', and the 'ugly' effects of alcohol, 

once and for all!!


The good effects of alcohol:


According to various studies worldwide, there is some healthy alcohol consumption (when the intake is limited up to the maximum of two drinks per day for males and one drink a day for females).

Researches acclaim that a moderate quantity of alcohol intake may cause lesser incidences of coronary heart diseases (CHD). There are certain types of alcohol that may raise your good cholesterol, thus protecting your heart. Also, a few them have been claimed to reduce blood clotting, thus preventing the stroke risk.


Here's the list of seven alcoholic drinks that can do good to your health if taken in moderation.


  1.  Red wines: These have heart-healthy antioxidants, help you lose weight, refine your memory, prevent cancer, and add to your beauty.
  2.  Beer: It helps prevent kidney stones, keeps a check on cholesterol, and is nutrient dense with fiber and vitamins.
  3.  Vodka: It helps mind your weight, improves your metabolism, and manages your stress and blood pressure.
  4.  Rum: It helps prevent cold, increases longevity, improves bone and muscle strength.
  5.  Tequila: It reduces blood sugar levels, thus lowers the risk of diabetes and controls cholesterol levels.
  6.  Whiskey:  It prevents diabetes, cancer, sharpens your memory, and aids in weight loss.
  7.  Brandy: It increases longevity, manages cold and cough, and boosts immunity.

Having said this, doctors and researchers are yet to be sure of the advantages of alcohol, and thus, they do not recommend drinking to gain potential health benefits.


The bad effects of alcohol:


Heave or binge drinking can be dreadful. Binge drinking can be describe as more than five drinks for men and 4 for women. And if someone is a daily drinker of large quantities, the results can be unpleasant!

Following are the health complications, binge drinking can lead to Alcohol:


  • Threatens your heart health by leading to high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, and other heart problems.
  • It lowers the blood sugar level that leading to hypoglycemia.
  • Loaded with calories, alcoholic drinks may ruin your weight-loss plans.
  • Wipes-off vitamins and nutrients from the body and weaken the immune system.
  • Interacts with your medication. If you're on a medication such as heart drugs, then talk with your doctor as these drug interactions with the alcohol can be fatal sometimes.
  • Decreases sex drive, can cause erectile dysfunction in men and infertility.
  • Obstructs sleep, dehydrate your body and skin and make you feel bloated.

With all the above ones, other crucial after-effects are those hangovers when you swear to your life to not drinking again.


The ugly effects of alcohol:


Binge drinking has also been linked with increased risk of cancers, scarring, and irreversible damage to your liver. Next are the chances of stroke and heart diseases that too increases with heavy alcohol consumption. 

She was drinking alcohol while pregnant has been proven to cause harm not only to the mom but also to a baby in the womb. It may lead to long-term medical problems and birth defects.  

Not exactly a health concern, but the loss of lives due to the accidents triggered by binge drinking is also an ugly effect of alcohol.


So, be careful during consume alcohol. Put down your glass within the above-stated limits. Also, make sure to go at least two days off per week from alcoholic beverages. Less should certainly be more for you! Better draw your line between 'social' drinking and 'problem' drinking!


If you are in your 30s and reading this article, the chances are that the above topic has struck a chord. Yes! Hangovers exist, and they seem to get worse as we age. While your 20s may have buzzed by smoothly in terms of dealing with the 'morning after' an office party or a get-together with lots of booze thrown in, your 30s are certainly not as forgiving. 


What is a hangover?


A group of symptoms that ensue after a bout of heavy drinking, even though alcohol has mostly found its way out of your body, is termed 'hangover.' 


These include:


  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Thirst
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sluggishness
  • Redness of eyes
  • Muscle ache


Symptoms of a hangover start several hours after you stop drinking. When the alcohol level in your blood becomes zero, the symptoms are at a peak, and they continue for up to 24 hours after that. 


How do I know my symptoms are due to a hangover and not withdrawal?


Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are somewhat similar to symptoms of a hangover. So, a lot of times, people confuse the two. The major difference between the two is that a hangover occurs after a single episode of drinking. On the other hand, withdrawal symptoms occur after multiple and repeated sessions of boozing. Withdrawal symptoms last for days and may be accompanied by seizures and hallucinations. 



Why my hangovers hurt more now that I am 30?


  1. Change in body composition: As you get older, your body loses muscle and gains fat. More fat means alcohol will remain concentrated in your body for a longer time, resulting in severe hangovers. Also, as the body's water content goes down with age, it makes you prone to dehydration after drinking.
  2. Liver becomes sluggish:As you are aware, our liver is a detoxifying organ. In the twenties, it is active and cleans the alcohol out of your system efficiently. With age, the number of liver enzymes in the body decline, making it harder for your liver to metabolize alcohol.
  3. The body no more remain as young like before:With age, your body's ability to deal with stress, illnesses, junk food, and alcohol intake reduces. The recovery is not as fast as when you are in your 20s. Yes, it is time to face the truth - your body can't handle bad drinking habits anymore!
  4. 'stress' is stressful:Now that you are in your 30s, you have more responsibilities, and that translates to more stress. Drinking may help relieve your stress, but the euphoria only lasts a short time. The stress hits you harder than ever the day after your booze binge.
  5. Apart from the above, certain personality traits such as aggressiveness, neuroticism, lifestyle factors such as smoking and drugs, and family history of alcoholism also affect the intensity of your hangovers.

How do I ensure my hangovers don't last long?

  1. Drink in small, non-intoxicating amounts: While this is not rocket science, most of us forget to control how much alcohol we are drinking and tend to go overboard. Paying attention to the quality and quantity of alcohol consumed can prevent hangovers.
  2. Choose less intense alcohol: Vodka and gin cause less intense hangover symptoms, compared to brandy, whiskey, and red wine.
  3. Fuel up while you booze:Munching on dry, bland, and complex carb-rich foods such as toast or crackers can counter low blood sugar levels and relieve nausea. Fruits and fresh fruit juices are also known to reduce the severity of hangovers.
  4. Sleep it off:A good and restful bout of sleep helps reduce the fatigue and lethargy after a hangover. Also, a cup of coffee can give you a much-needed boost after a hangover.
  5. Take medicines:If nothing else works, try popping an antacid to relieve gastritis and nausea after a hangover. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications help relieve a headache and muscle-ache associated with a hangover. To know more about the safe medicines to take to deal with a hangover, consult our specialist.


If you have been wondering why you can't handle the booze now that you are in your 30s, you have your answer. But, here is the good news! If you practice moderation, you don't really need to completely miss out on alcohol, no matter what your age group. 

Although many factors such as genetics, obesity, and viral infection may lead to liver disease, alcohol consumption is the most common cause. Liver disease caused by excessive consumption of alcohol is referred to as alcoholic liver disease (ALD).

 

What do you need to know?


Excessive drinking not only harms your liver, but it also affects your overall health. In the early stages, no symptoms may be seen. Once the symptoms start showing, the damage is often irreversible and may even be life-threatening.

 

 Early symptoms of ALD include:

 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen
  • Fever


It's not just drinking, but the pattern of drinking that is also responsible for liver disease. These patterns include:


  • Consuming a large amount in a short period of time (binge drinking)
  • Consuming more than the recommended limit over many years
  • Drinking without food intake, as drinking with a meal slows down the alcohol absorption rate and causes less damage
  • Consuming spirits (high alcohol concentration beverage)
  • Consuming multiple alcoholic beverages


The significant complications associated with liver cirrhosis are increased blood pressure inside the liver (portal hypertension), building-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), infection, liver cancer, and even death.


Securing your liver health

ALD is treatable if it is detected early before it causes severe damage.


Abstinence from alcohol helps.


 In case of minor damage, abstinence is required until the damage is reversed, and the person can occasionally drink after that. However, they would need to stick to the recommended level (safe limit). According to the National Health Services or NHS, the safe limit for alcohol intake is less than 14 units per week for both men and women (preferably split over three or more days). In the case of severe damage, permanent abstinence is recommended, as continued excessive drinking can shorten your lifespan. For more information on safe alcohol consumption and its effects on the liver, consult with an online Gastroenterologist.


Other lifestyle modifications to consider:

  • Eating 3 or 4 small meals a day instead of filling yourself with 1 or 2 large meals
  • Avoiding excessive salty and fatty foods (junks)
  • Opting for healthy snacking between meals instead of munching on processed food
  • Give up a sedentary lifestyle and exercising daily


It is advisable to seek help from medical professionals or centers specializing in safe alcohol detoxification. You may also join self-help groups to help with the process. Severe cases of withdrawal symptoms may require hospitalization and admission in rehab centers.

 

Prevention is better than a cure.

Consumption of alcohol is not only common among adults, but there's been a surge in alcohol consumption among teenagers and college students as well, causing early onset of liver damage among them. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that alcohol-related deaths have skyrocketed among young adults, especially millennials (aged between 25 and 34). Clearly, prevention is the best medicine to take control of liver health.


You can preserve your liver and prevent ALD by cutting back on alcohol or drinking in moderation. Also, one needs to eat nutritious food and maintain a healthy weight to safeguard their liver health.


So Stay Healthy & Stay Safe


Dr. Mehedi Hassan

 




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