How alcohol can affect your health and wellbeing

Feedback from our Evergreen Life community shows that people who drink more alcohol tend to consume more processed meats, sugary drinks and have a lower quality of sleep. That’s a quadruple whammy.

The current COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are drinking more than we used to. Your survey results have shown that you may be drinking too much. With most of us confined to our homes, it’s perhaps an understandable reaction to a potentially stressful situation. But while it may ‘take the edge off’ and help us feel a little more relaxed, too much too often can have some negative effects. Being more aware of how alcohol affects our body can help us make changes.  

👨🏽‍⚕️If alcohol is having a severe impact on your life, you may benefit from talking to your GP or having a specialist alcohol assessment. Find Alcohol Addiction Services

Here are 5 ways alcohol can have a negative effect on you.

1. Alcohol and your body’s cells. It’s worth understanding how alcohol can have a negative effect on cells, which are the building blocks of your body. Drinking alcohol depletes thiamine and other B vitamins which are needed for energy production in each and every cell of the body.  

It also reduces protection from dangerous chemicals. Too much alcohol may make it harder for our cells to thrive.

2. Alcohol and physical health in general. Apart from sometimes unpleasant hangovers, alcohol can have very negative effects on your physical health.  

It’s highly calorific, so overuse of alcohol may lead to weight gain.  

It can dehydrate the skin and as it becomes dry, skin glands produce extra oil to compensate, leading to spots.

Most importantly, long term drinking can damage the brain, nervous system, heart, liver and pancreas. Heavy drinking can also increase your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

3. Alcohol and mental health. While alcohol might boost our mood in the short term, the long-term reality is that is can worsen mental health symptoms and increase anxiety.

Alcohol is a depressant that can affect the chemicals in our brain and can magnify your mood. So, if you are already feeling down, angry or anxious it can heighten those emotions.  

Regular consumption of alcohol can also  decrease the levels that our body produces of the so called happy chemical, serotonin, leading you to feel more depressed.

4. Alcohol and sleep. A few drinks before bed can make you feel drowsy and you might think that you’ll get a better night’s sleep for it.  

But as the alcohol is metabolised while you sleep, its sedative effects wear off, and your sleep cycle may be disrupted, leading to a less restful night.

Alcohol is also a diuretic: that basically means you’re likely to be up in the night going to the toilet, causing even more sleep disruption.

5. Alcohol and your judgment.

Getting drunk can increase your risk of accidents and may also mean you misjudge situations or people, and that can lead to arguments and tension. It can also mean you lose an element of self-control and do things you might regret.  

To help you understand how much is too much, the image below shows how many units there are in different types of alcohol. The maximum number of units of alcohol suggested per week is 14 for men and women.  

You might also find it helpful to read our article on simple steps you can take to Manage your alcohol intake

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