Alcohol And Health

Alcohol intake is almost as old as mankind itself. People have been imbibing for thousands of years. Although, the kind of ingredient and fineness obtained then, cannot be compared to the level of sophistication put into the making of alcoholic drinks recently. Alcohol is a kind of drink that usually has some intoxicating effects on the body. The level of intoxication it’d have on an individual totally depends on the concentration of alcohol in the drink, the amount of it consumed, the tolerance of the drinker, and lastly, it depends on whether the individual has eaten or not. An individual that drinks alcohol on an empty stomach is more prone to becoming intoxicated.

Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol has two types of effect on people. The short and the long-term effect.

Short-term effect: The effect of alcohol intoxication on the short term is that it primarily affects the brain. This subsequently leads to slurred speech, abnormal and uncoordinated walking movements, and vomiting. In addition, alcohol intoxication also leads to unconsciousness, especially when large amounts of the drink are consumed. Alcohol consumption can also lead to the depressive syndrome when taking in large quantity. Anterograde amnesia is also a common side effect of alcohol. People often wake up, without the memory of what they did while they were drunk.  The level of intoxication alcohol would have on an individual totally depends on the concentration of alcohol in the drink, the amount consumed, the tolerance of the drinker, and lastly, it depends on whether the individual has eaten or not. An individual that drinks alcohol on an empty stomach, is more prone to being intoxicated, while one that feeds before drinking digests the alcohol slower, thereby reducing the effect of the alcohol. However, over-consumption of alcohol in an instance can easily lead to alcohol poisoning, and if not properly managed, can lead to death.

Long-term effect: Apart from transient intoxications and other short-term effects, alcohol also has some long-term effects. For example, when red wine is taken moderately if has some protective functions on the heart. However, chronic alcoholism can lead to the deficiency of thiamine and might lead to a condition called Wernicke encephalopathy. This disease has three components which ophthalmoplegia, abnormal walking movement, and gait, then confusion. The first step in the management of this disease is to stop drinking. Apart from this, the long-term effects of alcohol also include liver diseases and chronic pancreatitis.

Considering The Health Implications, Is It Good To Drink?

There is no specific answer to this question. People like what they like and life wouldn’t be enjoyable for some people if they can’t indulge themselves in occasional bottles of beer, or a nice bottle of red wine. Studies were done on alcohol and its effect has shown that it has both positive and negative effects. However, the people who should not take alcohol are pregnant women, and individuals who are alcohol dependent. In addition to this, some medical conditions do not allow the consumption of alcohol. For example, diabetic patients should totally abstain from not just alcohol, but every other form of drink that has a high amount of sugar in it. Furthermore, people who plan to drive should not drink, and lastly, teenagers should not drink alcohol, until they’ve attained the government approved age.

Health Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol

Whatever is done out of moderation is bound to cause problems. Same applies to alcohol. Taking excessive amounts of alcohol is bad for the health. However, alcohol, when taken in moderate quantities, has a lot of health benefits. Some of them include

  1. It reduces the risk of having heart-related diseases: According to a research done by the Public health department of the Harvard University, “consuming alcohol in moderate quantities increases the level of good cholesterol”. The good cholesterol, in this case, is also known as High-density A high body level of high-density lipoprotein reduces the risk of having heart-related diseases. In addition to this, it has been observed that consuming a moderate quantity of alcohol increases the body’s insulin sensitivity and also improving the clotting system of the body. This reduces the chances of clots in the form of emboli or thrombi in the blood vessels and organs.
  2. Increases sexual drive: As against the popular opinion that alcohol causes a reduction in libido, recent studies have shown that alcohol actually protects men against erectile dysfunction. According to a study performed on a group of men. It was observed that the dysfunction was decreased by about thirty-five percent. However, this is not to encourage men into drinking, further research is still needed to be conducted, so a stronger connection can be made between sexual dysfunction and alcohol.
  3. It prolongs life: Moderate and occasional drinking of alcohol has been noted to prolong life. It has been suggested that alcohol should be part of meals, but that should be the only time it must be consumed. As all things in life, moderation is key, if its purpose to elongate life is to be achieved.
  4. Effective in keeping people warm, especially in cold weathers: According to research, alcohol consumption led to a reduction in the occurrence of common cold. On the other hand, it was noted that smoking made people more susceptible to cold. This has been attributed to the anti-oxidant component of red wines. Drinking beers would not protect the body against cold in this case, but only red wine can do the magic.
  5. Reduces the risk of having dementia: Event though excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to anterograde amnesia, drinking alcohol moderately have been associated with lower chances of having dementia. Again, this is not to give a license or approval to those who have not been drinking. People can only benefit from this if they drink modestly.
  6. It improves the risk of having metabolic diseases: Drinking alcohol moderately have been shown to reduce the risk of having metabolic diseases such diabetes mellitus, especially type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Overall, everything has to be done in moderation. Alcohol has both positive and negative health effects.



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Sharma, A., Etilé, F. and Sinha, K. (2016). The Effect of Introducing a Minimum Price on the Distribution of Alcohol Purchase: A Counterfactual Analysis. Health Economics, 25(9), pp.1182-1200.