Wellbeing – Adversity Associated with Alcohol

Drinking has become the norm despite being associated with health risks, so what is it that makes us indulge in a behaviour that can be a risk to health? Well, some may say it can help you relax, feel calmer, help you deal with social situations, give you a sense of confidence (Dutch courage), help bond and socialise with colleagues, friends and family. Along with the many New Year’s Resolutions many people also attempt ‘Dry January’, which is refraining from alcohol throughout the whole month (recommended to consult a doctor before attempting), whether you wish to completely refrain or simply cut-down this is an ideal time to challenge ourselves to avoid the adversity associated with alcohol.

Regardless of what has been advised in the past, the UK Chief Medical Officers guidelines for BOTH men and women is consuming no more than 14 units a week. This is equivalent to 6 pints of 4% beer OR 6 x 175ml glasses of 13% wine OR 14 x 25ml glasses of 40% whisky. (I shouldn’t need to, but I do wish to emphasise the ‘OR’). Other suggestions include spreading your units evenly throughout the week, drinking more slowly along with alternating drinking and food and/or water and having alcohol free days.

It’s no secret that alcohol consumption can be harmful, we could go through all the short-term effects of drinking but I’m sure we know this already because most people that drink would have experienced slower reaction times, slurred speech, etc. Other serious short-term effects include alcohol poisoning which can be detrimental to breathing, heart rate and liver damage; in more worst-case scenarios comatose conditions.

 

Longer term health issues are however quite important to highlight. Alcohol misuse can lead to:

  1. High blood pressure (hypertension) – Due to stimulating the renin-angiotensin hormone system that causes the blood vessels to narrow. Then alcohol acts as a diuretic to flush fluid out of the system. As the water levels decrease, blood becomes thicker which increases the pressure.
  2. Pancreatitis, Diabetes and Liver damage – Alcohol can interfere with the enzymes and cells of the pancreas, it becomes inflamed and stops functioning. If the pancreas becomes dysfunctional, insulin (storage hormone that regulates blood sugar) cannot be produced and Diabetes can occur.
  3. Liver Disease –One of liver’s responsibilities is to filter toxins from the body. As alcohol passes through, fatty deposits build up (linked to higher cholesterol) and it can also damage the cells which eventually causes them to die.
  4. Various Cancers – Levels of alcohol that cause toxicity can harm the DNA and hinder the repair of the body’s cells, this weakens the immune system, making our body more susceptible to cancers.
  5. Fertility issues – Alcohol will lower the body’s natural growth hormone in both males and females which could result in a reduced sperm count and impotence for males and make it more difficult for females to conceive.
  6. Obesity – The standard drink could contain 120-200 calories, alongside a person’s food intake, this could add up rapidly.

Smart alcohol strategies

  1. Reach out – Drinkline or AA can provide some great advice and support for all
  2. 0% alcohol options – Same great taste, less harmful
  3. Drink Free days – Set a small limit, space out the days and let your organs detoxify
  4. Spread your units- Don’t ‘save up’ your units throughout the week, rather spread them out evenly.

For more information on all aspects of health, contact us at wellbeing@peopleplus.co.uk



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