8 Ways In Which Alcohol Affects Your Body (& The Liver)

by Dr. Jonathan D'Souza

While experts go gaga over the health benefits of moderate drinking, heavy alcohol consumption can damage your body in ways that you can’t imagine and may wreak havoc on vital organs, other than the liver.

A sip of wine, whisky or beer can hang around in your body for about two hours and once it enters your blood stream, it reaches every organ in your body. Here’s how heavy drinking affects your pancreas, heart, skin, brain, sex drive, liver and muscles.

1. Inflames The Pancreas
Prolonged consumption of alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances, which could lead to pancreatitis—a progressive and irreversible damage to the pancreas gland. It can cause swelling and inflammation of the blood vessels in the pancreas, which prevents proper digestion.

2. Interferes With The Brain’s Communication Pathways
Contrary to the popular belief that alcohol kills brain cells, it actually alters the levels of neurotransmitters—chemicals that control the passage of information between neurons. By interfering with the brain’s communication pathways, alcohol can bring about behavioral and mood changes, decrease muscle coordination and hamper clarity of thought.

3. Causes Acne Breakouts
Alcohol dilates the blood vessels of the face causing acne and rosacea breakouts. To balance out those widened arteries, the heart pumps more blood into the surrounding tissue, making your face puffy.

4. Leads To Heart Diseases
Too much alcohol can damage the heart, resulting in a stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), or cardiomyopathy (weakening or hardening of the heart muscle).

5. Slows Down The Repair Of Muscles
Alcohol affects the hormonal and inflammatory responses to exercise, too. It makes it difficult for the muscles to repair themselves and delays the building of new proteins.

6. Weakens The Liver
Everyone knows that heavy drinking is injurious to the liver and affects its ability to filter harmful toxins from the bloodstream. It can cause the liver to swell (fatty liver), or result in scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis), which can lead to hepatitis, jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite or itching.

7. Hampers Digestion
A single night of bingeing (five drinks or more) can increase gut permeability. Bacteria and harmful toxins can leak from the digestive system into the bloodstream, causing an immune response that can result in liver disease and other digestive troubles. Alcohol also increases acidity and heartburn.

8. Low Sex Drive
Alcohol alters the levels of sex hormones such as testosterone, and decreases the sperm count. Men with alcohol dependence can have low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.

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