What You Need to Know About Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
Drinking in moderation sometimes gets tossed to the side during celebratory occasions, yet being mindful of its effects on the body is important, especially since alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Johns Hopkins-University of Maryland-Baltimore survey found that an astounding 60.1% of participants report drinking more alcohol after March 1, 2020.
Let’s briefly explore what alcohol does to DNA, oxidative stress, vitamin absorption, and gut health.
You may be surprised to learn that alcohol contributes to DNA damage. When alcohol is metabolized, acetaldehyde is formed. Acetaldehyde, a highly reactive, DNA-damaging metabolite, causes DNA damage within blood stem cells leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells. This can give rise to cancer.
Further, alcohol-induced oxidative stress is linked to the metabolism of ethanol involving both the microsomal and mitochondrial systems. The overproduction of free radicals causes oxidative damage to biomolecules, causing chronic and degenerative diseases – atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetics, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular ailments, chronic inflammation, and many more.
Add to that the concern that alcohol blocks vitamin absorption, limiting the nutrients needed for energy and the body’s proper functioning. Damage is done to the cell lining the stomach and intestines and inhibits the breakdown of nutrients. Heavy drinkers and binge drinkers often eat poorly, limiting their essential nutrients and affecting energy supply and structure maintenance.
Alcohol also causes gut microbe imbalance associated with liver disease and the weakening of the immune system. Alcohol inhibits the production of digestive enzymes and juices, meaning it becomes more difficult for your body to break down, digest, and absorb nutrients from your food. This leads to digestive issues, GI tract inflammation, painful stomach ulcers and sores, fluctuations in weight, and food allergies and intolerances.
As you can see, DNA damage, oxidative stress, vitamin absorption, and gut microbe imbalance combined makes a solid case for evaluating your alcohol intake.
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