6 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Alcohol’s Effect on the Body
It’s extremely rare to encounter someone who has never so much as sipped an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is part of our celebrations and our social lives. It’s at every sporting event and most friendly gatherings. Most of us consume alcohol, but we don’t know a lot about what happens when we do.
Here are 6 facts you probably didn’t know about how alcohol affects the body.
- Alcohol alters your brain function
Not long after you take your first sip, alcohol gets to work in your brain. As soon as you feel that first slight buzz, and maybe sooner, alcohol is changing your brain chemistry. It’s slowing things down by increasing the effects of chemicals that slow down our movements. GABA is one such chemical. When alcohol increases GABA’s effects, it leads to slurred speech and sluggish movements. At the same time, alcohol increases dopamine in the reward center of your brain. Dopamine sends the feel-good messages that make you think you’re having a good time.
- Your liver can handle about an ounce per hour
Generally speaking, the liver can metabolize about an ounce of alcohol each hour. If you drink any more than this, the alcohol will begin to accumulate in your blood and body tissues until your liver can process it. This is why your blood alcohol levels can spike so high when you’re binge drinking.
- Alcoholism is a disease
Alcoholism is a disease that occurs in the brain. After your brain gets used to being in an altered state, it begins to crave alcohol. The timeline for this occurrence is different for everyone. Some people are more prone to addiction that others. But once you become addicted, you’ll experience physical withdrawal symptoms whenever you don’t have a drink.
- Alcohol can be deadly
We’ve all heard about at least one fatal car accident involving alcohol. But that’s not the only way alcohol can be deadly. Indulging in beer, wine or cocktails regularly may be killing you slowly. Alcohol has been linked to certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, head and neck cancers and colorectal cancer. Alcoholism may also increase your odds of anemia, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and high blood pressure.
- It takes 30 minutes to feel the effects
Binge drinking is dangerous for many reasons, but it’s especially dangerous because you’re drinking more before your body has felt the full effect of whatever you’ve had. It’s not until 30 minutes after you stop drinking that you’ll feel the full impact of your servings.
- Only time can sober you
There are many myths about alcohol, and especially about sobering up. Nothing will reduce your blood alcohol level except for time. This includes water, coffee, food or a cold shower. These things may make you feel temporarily more alert, but they aren’t going to change your blood alcohol content.
- Alcohol is dehydrating
Excessive drinking has many ill effects on the body, and one of them is dehydration. Your body needs fluids to function at its best, and a night of heavy drinking can rob you of this. In part, this is why you’ll get hangovers. Try to drink a glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume.
Now that you know more about how alcohol impacts the body, will you adjust your drinking habits?