Drinking alcohol has become an almost essential rite of passage for youths entering the free and adult world. Alcohol is a legal, accessible, and socially acceptable drug, and our culture portrays drinking it as fun, sexy, and cool. Yet what many alcohol consumers choose not to recognize (or simply aren’t aware of) are the many harmful effects it has on our well-being — I’m talking body, mind, and soul.
Studies have shown the harmful effects that drinking has on women. The more alcohol a woman drinks before her first full term pregnancy, the greater the risk of breast cancer.
Other studies have shown the effects it has on our bodies more generally. Not only does it impair judgment, it also interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, affecting the way the brain looks and works. Alcohol can therefore change your mood and behaviour and impede your coordination and focus.
Even 24 hours after drinking, your body’s immune system is compromised, making you more susceptible to illness. In fact, people who drink frequently are more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Alcohol dulls the mind and body, straining their connection to one another and putting your whole body off balance. This makes it very difficult to meditate (even days after) or to do any grounding work like exercise or yoga.
It also promotes unhealthy weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Liquid calories don’t register in the same way as calories from food do, so when we drink our calories, we often fail to recognize when we’ve gone past our limit and accordingly fail to compensate by eating less food. These unregistered, liquid calories are called stealth calories. Richard Mattes, a professor of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University, explains: “Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses. When drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.”
Here are a few images to showcase how much your body has to process during a night of indulgence:
Our stomach regulates hunger and our intestines also release nerve regulators and hormones.
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While this is happening, levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which is released by the stomach when it is empty, decreases, helping you to feel full.
Research is finding that ghrelin may play a key physiological role in the weight gain associated with juices and other drinks.
It may also be because the feeling of a liquid versus a solid in our mouths generates different signals in the rest of the digestive system. Liquid calories can also be consumed more quickly and offer less psychological satisfaction.
Because liquids travel more quickly through the intestinal tract, the rate of absorption is altered, affecting the satiety hormones and signaling.
Cutting sugary drinks generally will aid the weight loss battle and improve your overall health. The key is to be mindful of what you consume, food and liquid alike.
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