Alcohol increases your food intake as it makes you hungry quite often. It prevents and makes fat burn a lot more difficult as it raises cortisol levels which increases your fat storing ability. It is high on calories and mostly have a zero nutrient value. Foods generally consumed with alcohol are high on sodium and fat, doubling the intake of calories.
Alcohol is fat sparing, meaning it will be burned for fuel before the body burns any fat for fuel. Therefore, when alcohol is consumed in excess of the body’s daily energy needs, it is harder for the body to burn fat, and more fat is stored, leading to weight gain.
Moreover, alcohol can also increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high levels of cortisol in the body can contribute to gaining excess belly fat.
Drinking increases stress production in your body, leads to ageing of arteries and can actually place you at a greater risk of cancer and dementia.
The impact of alcohol on aging is multifaceted. Evidence shows that alcoholism or chronic alcohol consumption can cause both accelerated or premature aging in which symptoms of aging appear earlier than normal and exaggerated aging, in which the symptoms appear at the appropriate time but in a more exaggerated form.
Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, alcohol can cause:
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
- Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
- Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)
In the study that will be shared at the 40th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in Denver June 24-28, researchers found that alcoholic patients had shortened telomere lengths, placing them at greater risk for age-related illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia.
“Telomeres, the protein caps on the ends of human chromosomes, are markers of aging and overall health,” said Naruhisa Yamaki of the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine.
Yamaki explained that every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of telomere is lost, so they get shorter with age. But some groups may have shorter telomeres for reasons other than ageing.
“Our study showed that alcoholic patients have a shortened telomere length, which means that heavy drinking causes biological aging at a cellular level,” he said. “It is alcohol rather than acetaldehyde that is associated with a shortened telomere length.”
Yamaki and his co-authors recruited 255 study participants from alcoholism treatment services at Kurihama National Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan: 134 alcoholic patients and 121 age-matched controls or non-alcoholics, ranging in age from 41 to 85 years old. DNA samples, as well as drinking histories and habits, were collected from all participants.
‘We also found an association between telomere shortening and thiamine deficiency (TD),’ said Yamaki. ‘TD is known to cause neuron impairments such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Although how exactly TD can cause neural impairments is unclear, it is well known that oxidation stress cause telomere shortening and, thus, it is possible that oxidation stress may also cause neuron death.’
Yamaki added that it’s important for the public to understand that heavy drinking causes telomere shortening because ‘awareness of this fact provides important information necessary for people to live healthier.’
Binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, including:
- Unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning
- Intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence
- Increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity
- Increased family problems, broken relationships
- Alcohol poisoning
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Sexual problems
- Permanent damage to the brain
- Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation
- Gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls)
- Cancer of the mouth and throat.
Men who drink too much are more likely to experience erectile dyfunction. Heavy drinking can also prevent sex hormone production and lower your libido.
Women who drink too much may stop menstruating. That puts them at a greater risk for infertility. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy have a higher risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth.Women who drink alcohol while pregnant put their unborn child at risk. Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD) is a serious concern.
Alcohol’s impact on your body starts from the moment you take your first sip. While an occasional glass of wine with dinner isn’t a cause for concern, the cumulative effects of drinking wine, beer, or spirits can take its toll.