How Does Alcohol Really Affect Your Health?

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We all know that drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can really pack on the pounds. Why wouldn’t it? Alcohol packs a whopping 7 calories per gram. When you consider that both protein and carbohydrates only provide 4 calories per gram, it tends to add up quickly for those that consume alcohol on a regular basis. This alone is reason enough to cut back on alcohol consumption, but what else does alcohol do to your body? Many believe that alcohol is only metabolized through the liver. While the majority of alcohol metabolism does occur in the liver, it is actually metabolized through a variety of oxidative and nonoxidative channels which can lead to tissue damage system-wide. When metabolism occurs in oxidative channels, byproducts such as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) that can create a host of problems. These chemicals can raise other levels of chemicals in the body such as lactic acid, which explains a part of the excessive fatigue after drinking. Another danger is the oxidation of retinal. Retinal further metabolizes into retinoic acid, which is responsible for several factors involving cellular and muscular growth. On a more surface level, alcohol affects every major body system. The list goes on and on. Symptoms include thinning of bones (osteoporosis), muscle weakness, cramps, muscle atrophy, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, ulcers, abdominal fullness, bloating, and more. Testosterone, which is a crucial hormone responsible for building muscle, is severely limited by alcohol consumption. Other things such as growth hormones, which are secreted while you sleep to help you recover, are also suppressed with alcohol consumption. While the occasional drink is okay, just remember to do everything in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption carries significant consequences outside of weight gain and liver cirrhosis (though both are good enough reasons on their own). Next time you pick up a drink, keep in mind what it is doing to your body. Here are some more resources for you to learn about the effects that alcohol can have on your body:  

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