A night of drinking is often followed by a morning of remorse. The alcohol that tasted good during at the party has left you hungover. How often did you think to your poor self; I am never drinking again? Those thoughts, combined with new year (new me!) resolutions make for a great opportunity to do a alcohol-free reset at the first month of the year. Thus, the phenomenon of Dry January became a new year’s hype!
The concept originated in the United Kingdom in 2013 as a campaign by the charity Alcohol Change UK. The goal is to encourage people to reassess their relationship with alcohol, promote healthier habits, and raise awareness about the risks associated with excessive drinking.
Since then, the movement has gained global recognition, with millions of people around the world choosing to embrace a sober start to the year.
This annual reset is a good moment to reflect on our drinking habits and what alcohol does to your body. Let us look into this substance, and what it does to our body.
First things first, what is this beverage? Alcohol is produced in the fermentation process of grains, fruits and any source of sugar by yeast. It is a psychoactive substance, which means it alters the function of your nervous system, specifically it is a Psychotropic Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressant. This recreational drug is both the oldest and the most widely used.
Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach and the small intestine. This process starts quickly, alcohol can reach peak concentration within 30 to 90 minutes, depending on factors like how fast you are drinking, the amount of food in the stomach, liver health and genetics.
When it is flowing through the body it is increasing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the higher this is the more you feel the following effects:
- Numbing the brain
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the activity of the brain and central nervous system. This leads to relaxation, lowered inhibitions, impaired judgment and overall weakening your senses and coordination.
- Increased heartrate
Your heart has to pump your blood faster. You feel warmer, you feel less pain and your breathing increases.
- Kidneys start rushing – dehydration
To digest your drinks, your kidneys have to work hard. Alcohol is a diuretic, like tea and coffee, which means that it increases your urine production. which may exacerbate some of the symptoms associated with intoxication, such as headache and dizziness. This also contributes to the hangover the next day.
- You feel hungry – the drunchies (munchies, drunk)
One study that researched brains of mice found that neurons that deal with hunger are activated when intoxicated. Food also slows down the intoxication, so it makes a lot of sense that you want to have some fries when you’re drinking!
Long term heavy drinking, leads to various health problems. It is one of the most addictive drugs, and attributes to many deaths each year.
- Liver damage: Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which can be overwhelmed by its presence. It has to control the toxins, these toxins can make you feel nauseous. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to fatty liver syndrome – you can see one at Body Worlds!
- Heart disease: Alcohol can raise blood pressure, increase triglycerides, and damage the lining of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
- Digestive problems: Alcohol can interfere with digestion, leading to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and ulcers. It can also damage the pancreas, as alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances, increasing the risk of pancreatitis.
- Neurological disorders: Chronic alcohol abuse can damage brain cells, leading to cognitive impairment, memory loss, and an increased risk of dementia.
- Cancer: Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast cancer.
Besides this, there are more benefits of not drinking, also if you are not a heavy drinker:
Try out this month of 0.0%! Either if you want to detox from the holidays, reassess your bond with the beverages or change your whole lifestyle for good: start now and feel the difference!