There are a lot of ways that alcohol damages your body and damages your health, apart from liver damage – which seems to be the focus for the majority of people – and the damage is not just caused by heavy drinking, long term heavy drinking – but drinking in general.
The first way is through your immune system. Your immune system stops a lot of shit from getting inside your body. It basically says it on the tin – it gives you immunity to a lot of the stuff that’s out there that would otherwise cause chaos to your body.
They say even small amounts of alcohol can affect your immune system. Think about the hangover. A hangover is in part due to your immune system being diminished. When you are young it is a lot easier to handle hangovers than it is when you get older, because your immune system is a lot stronger at that age, you’re young, strong and full of vitality.
When you age, that strength and vitality diminishes anyway, but it also diminishes because of what we do to our bodies in the Western World, not just in the alcohol that we drink, but also because of the drugs we take including pharmaceutical drugs, to help us with medical issues. The thing with pharmaceuticals is that they also give detrimental consequences, on the other side of helping.
Other contributions are the food we eat, what we drink and the life style that we have, we are in general very sedentary.
As you may know, I am doing a degree course now and one of the early parts of this course was nutrition. When I think about malnutrition, I always associate it with the images I remember from when I was growing up, of the famines in Ethiopia and live aid and all that kind of stuff.
But Malnutrition doesn’t only mean under nutrition – which is what we saw there, massive under nutrition – but it also refers to over nutrition, which is where people are getting so much food, that they’re causing themselves to store fat, which is the only thing that your body can do with that excess of food.
If you eat a whole lot of food you don’t shit it out, you store it as fat and for the first time in our history the world’s population is divided and there are just as many people that are over nourished as there are people that are under nourished.
That’s a problem for Society as well as a problem for individuals and it’s really only at an individual level that these things can be solved.
Going back to the auto immune system, the immune system suffers a lot through heavy drinking and this has a knock on cumulative and wide spread effect, to other areas of your life as well.
Quality of Sleep
This is another area where alcohol effects your health – you get a poor quality of sleep. You often hear drinkers say they can’t quit drinking because they need to have that night cap to fall asleep at an end of an evening. Basically, this is just your body getting used to a routine.
The sleep you are getting is not proper sleep. You are going unconscious, you are going into a comatose state, but you’re not getting the essential REM sleep that you need, the ‘rapid eye movement’ sleep. Essential sleep is denoted by rapid eye movement, when somebody has gone into REM sleep, their eyes will be closed but you will see their eyes flickering underneath, the eyeball will be going back and forth underneath the eye lid.
It’s in that REM sleep that your body recuperates, it gets the deep sleep it needs to function for the next 16 hours that its’ awake the next day.
If your sleep is interrupted it is a big, massive factor in your life and it doesn’t take much alcohol to interfere with your REM Sleep. Just add up how much sleep that you have missed over the years, and then consider how much that has effected so many areas in your life, including:
- Your ability to make money
- Your ability to learn things
- Your ability to socialise with people
- Your ability to be a good parent
Contributor to a Different Types of Cancer
This is a scary one for me, the fact that alcohol contributes to a load of different cancers.
Like Cigarette smoking drinking alcohol causes the obvious Cancers; throat cancers, the Esophageal cancer, voicebox and stomach cancers.
I remember that when I was drinking. I used to eat Rennies, the tablets for indigestion, like they were sweets. I used to have to buy and take them regularly to avoid severe indigestion. Each tablet would only last a small while and so after an half hour or so, I’d have to take another one, so my system, my whole stomach, my digestive system was not in a good way.
So, you’ve got stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, you’ve also got breast cancer and pancreatic cancer and they’re just the cancers that can be directly attributed to drinking alcohol.
This includes your heart and your veins and your arteries. Not only does alcohol have a direct influence on your heart, it can also cause cardiac encephalopathy which is basically ‘drooping heart syndrome’. Your heart loses its structure.
When you first put a nappy on a baby, it’s nice and tight and compact but in the morning the same nappy is hanging down. This is exactly the same for a Heart that has Drooping Heart Syndrome. It loses its structure and starts sagging down inside your body. I mean fuck me, that’s a scary thought.
When you’re drinking alcohol, your lifestyle changes to fit the alcohol, to fit the state that you’re in. When you’re drunk you’ve not in any fit state to cook good food for yourself and look after your diet properly, so you just go for easy food and easy food generally is not good food.
When you’re drunk or in a hangover state, it’s the same thing, you want food that will try and bring you out of the hangover, comfort food. And you are a lot less likely to go out and get exercise or if you are doing exercise, you are less likely to push yourself through that exercise.
There are knock on effects to every single part of this and if we look at all these things in isolation; quality of sleep, risk of cancer, risk of heart failure, risk of brain damage – all these things are connected. Drinking alcohol is connected to so many different areas of your life and it is infecting so many different areas of your life as well.
Massive toll on your body:
If you think about it, as soon as alcohol goes into your system, your system shuts down many of the lifesaving processes that are carried out in your body on a moment by moment basis. The more alcohol you drink the more of these are shut down because your body has to get rid of the alcohol at all costs.
Your liver has got a lot of different functions, apart from getting rid of the toxins from the alcohol, and your liver will stop doing all the other things and concentrate its whole efforts on getting rid of the alcohol, until that alcohol has gone.
I’ve talked about the amount of alcohol and the amount of Guinness that I used to drink. If I drank ten pints of Guinness, which has about three units of alcohol in it per pint, I will have consumed thirteen units of alcohol. My liver can only metabolise one unit of alcohol per hour, so for thirty hours my liver is going to have to go through the metabolising process of processing the alcohol, turning it to acetaldehyde, and then turning it into acetate and getting rid of it out of the body.
While this is going on, for those fifteen hours, my liver cannot do the function that it’s normally supposed to do.
So, if I drank seven and a half pints of Guinness per day, my body would not be able to do anything else, period.
It would have to consistently go through this cycle of getting the alcohol out of my body and nothing else. It can’t do anything else.
I didn’t do this, but there were times when I would go out and drink maybe two or three pints in a night, perhaps ten on some other nights and maybe twenty at the weekends. A lot of booze was going in and out my system.
So just think about that, even if you’re only drinking a few glasses of wine a night your system has to deal with that before it can do anything else. When your body is dealing with that it can’t deal with the other things that it’s supposed to be dealing with on a moment by moment basis.
So just remember that while your body is doing this, whilst your body is diverting the resources away from the normal stuff that it’s supposed to be doing – not only in your liver but in your kidneys, stomach, brain, and throughout your body because alcohol gets everywhere – so while your body is dealing with this it can’t use those resources for the things that it’s supposed to be doing.
The alcohol is creating havoc inside your system, pure and simple.
Things around you
Finally, when we talk about alcohol from the perspective of your health I just want to touch on how it effects the things that are around you. I’ve already talked about how when you are getting no sleep, that the alcohol can start effecting your:
- Work ethic; and
- How hard you work
- How you’re thinking about work and pushing yourself forward.
Alcohol effects every part of your life when you’re in the hangover state. I don’t care how much you drink, you will still have a certain amount of brain fog, even if you don’t notice it, it’s still there and it’s effecting everything that you do in your life.
Once you’ve got brain fog, all these other areas in your life are going to be effected and that in itself causes stress and as we know stress is a killer.
We need a certain amount of stress to push us forwards and to make us do things we otherwise wouldn’t do, but too much stress is bad for you and will cause a lot of problems.
So, from that perspective, just by that one thing, the effect drinking alcohol has on the outside world and how that affects you in many ways, that one thing is going to cause you a lot more problems in the long run.
I hope you can see from all these things that alcohol drinking is not just something that gets you in one area. You might have a weaker heart, you might have a fuzzier brain or your liver might be effected – alcohol effects everything. It’s not just the one thing.
It might be one thing that gets you at the end of the day but it effects everything in your daily life. It is the quality of life that matters and all of these things add up to a bad quality of life and all because of the one thing that you’re doing – drinking alcohol.
So, drinking alcohol has a knock on effect in all of these areas, nutrition, relationships, work, all that type of stuff. You know where it’s effecting your own life. So, it goes to say that if you stop drinking alcohol it is going to have a massive positive impact, on those areas of your life.
If you would like more information about quitting alcohol or about what the best way of approaching quitting drinking alcohol, from the perspective of leaving alcohol behind you and pursuing your dreams, then head on over to https://www.alcoholmastery.com where we have loads of different resources including free videos, some paid courses, one on one coaching, newsletter, Facebook forum and more, so come on over and have a look and take a gander around.
“Manage the Downside and the Upside will Manage itself”
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!