Improving wellbeing

Improving wellbeing

November 21, 2016

How does alcohol really affect you?

Image credit: iStock/william87

Enjoying that glass of wine or bottle of beer at the end of a long day may seem like a good idea, but how is it really affecting you? You might think that not drinking enough to get drunk is totally fine and that the odd cheeky tipple isn’t going to impact your health. However, every unit of alcohol impacts your body.

That’s not to say that everything about alcohol is bad. Studies have shown that certain booze when enjoyed in moderation offers a number of health benefits to both men and women. But this doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to drink and you definitely shouldn’t go over your recommended weekly allowances.

So how exactly does alcohol affect your body? Here are some of the main ways that your favourite alcoholic drink really affects you:

Affects memory

Drinking alcohol can affect your ability to make and store memories, meaning you can forget things. This is what happens when you get incredibly drunk and can’t remember the night before, but if you drink regularly, you may find that you start to have problems remembering small things a lot more, such as where you put your keys.

This also means it affects your ability to learn, which can mean you don’t take things in properly or you forget something you’ve just learned. Not really ideal if you’re studying or training.

Risks your heart

While some studies have found that a small amount of alcohol could be beneficial for your heart, more research is needed into this area before people start using this an excuse for drinking. In actual fact, drinking every day increases your risk of an abnormal heartbeat.

Irregular heartbeats don’t just feel strange – you can experience palpitations – it also puts you at risk of more serious illnesses, including stroke and heart failure.

Damages your muscles

No matter how hard you try to tone up, if you’re drinking regularly, you aren’t going to improve your muscles. It doesn’t matter how many protein shakes you drink or how much you hit the gym, alcohol will reduce your ability to build muscle.

This is because alcohol actually alters the way your body reacts to alcohol, specifically its inflammatory and hormonal responses. Ultimately, this makes it harder for your body build new proteins and repair those that get damaged. This is made worse if you don’t get yourself a post-workout snack before having drink, so leave plenty of time between your gym and drinking sessions.

Changes your skin’s appearance

It isn’t just the unseen areas of your body that are affected by booze, your skin will start to show the tell-tale signs of overindulgence too. Alcohol will make the blood vessels in your skin more fragile, which means they are more likely to break. This can leave you with redness and visible clusters or broken blood vessels.

As your heart tries to balance out your arteries and veins that have become more dilated due to alcohol, it results in a greater amount of fluid being pumped into the tissue around them. This can make you look bloated and puffy, which isn’t good.

On top of this, alcohol introduces more toxins into your body, which can result in dull and tired skin, even if it’s been a few days since your last pub session.

Lowers your fertility

Those who are trying for a baby should steer clear of alcoholic drinks and foods, as it can really hamper your fertility. The effect is similar for both men and women, making it harder to conceive in the long-run.

While it isn’t fully understood how it affects fertility in women, the results are bad enough that doctors recommend avoiding drink if you are trying to conceive as well as throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In men, alcohol reduces testosterone levels, sperm quality and sperm count, giving you plenty of hurdles to jump over in order to become a parent.

While you don’t need to give up booze completely in order to stay healthy, be sure you stick to drinking in moderation.