Call it General Knowledge 101 if you like, but it is well-known that no party is successful without alcohol in some corridors of our society. Except for children’s parties, of course. Call it the live-wire of a party, and you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. But regardless of the seemingly potent power of alcohol, people all over the globe take swigs of alcohol for diverse reasons.
For a significant number of folks, it’s all about the great swell of fun it brings. Peer pressure is the prime motivator; they have people to impress and ‘blow away’. At the same time, some people find an avenue to cling to a fleeting moment of happiness where their problems can momentarily be drowned. So what’s the lure in alcohol? You may wonder.
What’s the biggie about alcohol, anyway?
Research has revealed that alcohol increases human perception and appreciation of activities surrounding an event, which may explain your friend’s continued allegiance towards bar-hopping or your colleague’s surprising penchant for company’s get-togethers or professional meets.
Alcohol impacts human behaviors and actions more than you can ever imagine on a deeper, more fundamental level. This place of impact: your brain. A part of the human brain, called the brain reward system, makes you feel good when you do specific important actions or things worth remembering, like eating good foods or taking a nutrient-dense and nourishing beverage, almost like your brain is ‘rewarding’ you for performing such natural actions.
This feeling of pleasure is that natural body ‘high’ that spurs you to want to repeat such action. So considering this insightful revelation, what does taking alcohol do to you? The action of alcohol intake amplifies this brain reward, causing a surge of pleasurable feelings. Just like sugar or cocaine.
So regardless of the benefits of alcohol that drive people to take it, people’s desire for alcohol basically stems from how it activates the brain reward system and causes a surge of pleasure sensation much longer-lasting than what can be obtained from natural highs. This action may be dangerous to you in the long run because of its effect on body organs, as you will find out below.
Effect of alcohol on four vital body organs.
The kidney helps to remove wastes from the body. This organ maintains a balance between water, minerals, and salts in the body, such as Potassium, Sodium, and Calcium. This is needed to ensure the smooth operations of body tissues like muscles, nerves, etc. But a situation may arise where the kidney finds it difficult to carry out this important body function: when alcohol comes into the picture. How?
Alcohol is a diuretic: it effectively facilitates the loss of water through passaging urine out of the body through the inhibition of a vital hormone, Vasopressin, which regulates water excretion, which results in body dehydration. What is the significance of this information for alcohol lovers, both social drinkers and binge drinkers?
It’s simple. You stand in the way of your kidney functions when you binge on alcohol or when you take it steadily over a long period. This inhibits your kidney from working effectively when there is little water to filter out waste products from the blood. Being a social drinker does not exclude you from potential kidney damage. Steady alcohol intake, in the long run, may bring about kidney failure.
The heart is life. Thanks to this natural pumping machine, through a complex network of pipelines known as the cardiovascular system (made up of the arteries, veins, and capillaries), blood is pumped around the body to deliver nutrients where they are needed. However, this wonderful cardiovascular system may be damaged over a period from the moment you take alcohol. One notable way in which health issues manifest is by a chronic spike in blood pressure.
Research shows that alcohol works as a vasoconstrictor, causing the blood vessels to tighten or constrict. This causes the heart to work harder in moving blood through blood vessels around the body. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Alcohol has been shown to cause the muscles of the heart to stretch and droop, a condition is known as cardiomyopathy. This makes the heart unable to pump blood around the body, which may consequently lead to congestive heart failure. With these effects on the heart, giving up alcohol would not be a bad idea at all.
Brain chemistry is the total chemical activity embodying every neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain. But it appears alcohol can negatively impact brain function through the activity of a neurotransmitter called Gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that suppresses the activity of neurons. Result? Slow reflexes, unsteady gait, slurred speech, and lapses in short-term memory. Long-term heavy consumption of alcohol may cause:
- poor circulation to the brain
- possible brain shrinkage
- changes in mood
While the liver helps to process alcohol in the body, the liver only processes a certain amount at a time. This means that if you binge on alcohol or you take a considerably high quantity of alcohol, your liver will only process a certain amount, leaving the rest in your bloodstream, roaming around your body, causing intoxication. Long-term consumption of alcohol usually causes the destruction of liver cells, resulting in cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and possibly liver cancer.
As attractive as alcohol is, the consequences of alcohol intake, in the long run, are grave. However, you can wean yourself off alcohol slowly by choosing whole fruit drinks and beverages that enrich your body, giving you the nutrients and minerals your body silently craves. Choose to be healthy every day, and make the right choices, one of which is reducing alcohol to an absolute minimum or giving it up totally.