Whether you’re an occasional drinker or consume alcoholic beverages moderately, you should understand how alcohol affects your health. Research on alcohol and the human body has revealed some health benefits and risks. Here are five interesting facts about the effects of alcohol on the body.
Alcohol affects men and women differently.
If a young woman and a young man of the same age drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will have a higher blood alcohol level. This is because younger women make less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol in the stomach.
Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels.
The symptoms of alcohol intoxication and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are similar. People with diabetes should track their blood sugar levels while drinking, as hypoglycemia requires proper medical care. If you are diabetic, speak to your doctor before consuming alcohol.
Moderate alcohol consumption might help protect against heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, moderate drinking raises good “HDL” cholesterol and reduces plaque collection in your arteries. Moderate drinking means no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. To decrease your risk for heart disease, increase your physical activity and eat a healthy diet.
Many factors influence how people respond to alcohol.
Your age, gender, genetics, overall health, and having any history of alcohol abuse can affect how your body responds to alcohol. Alcohol moves through your organs based on how much water is in them. Typically, women and older men have less water in their organs. As a result, less alcohol can enter the organs and instead remains in the bloodstream for a longer time.
Drinking doesn’t actually warm you up.
Consuming alcohol makes blood rush to your skin’s surface, which may make you feel warmer. However, alcohol actually causes your blood vessels to widen and makes you lose heat faster. Alcohol also impedes the body’s process of increasing heat through shivering.
If you or someone you know displays the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, Baylor St. Luke’s Emergency Centers can help. Be proactive and know where to go ahead of time at PlanForIt.org.