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Impacts of Alcohol on Health and Nutrition

Published on Jan 17, 2023 and last reviewed on May 24, 2023   -  3 min read


Alcohol consumption causes multiple physical and neurological effects on the body and immune system. Please read the article to know about it.

How Does Alcohol Impacts the Central Nervous System?

Alcohol is basically yeast fermented sugar and starch. The alcohol seen in common alcoholic beverages like wine, beer, and common liquor is called ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Ethanol is a known suppressant of the central nervous system capable of inflicting addictive and harmful effects on multiple organ systems. Post the consumption of alcohol, the stomach absorbs it and goes into the small intestine, wherein it enters the bloodstream. The metabolism of alcohol by-products occurs in the liver through enzymatic action. Medical literature elaborates on the fact that the human liver is capable of metabolizing only a small amount of alcohol at one point in time, and the excess alcohol would circulate or be lost into the bloodstream impacting the immune defense of the body.

What Are the Impact of Alcohol on Health and Nutrition?

The detrimental impact of alcohol, irrespective of whatever proportions consumed regularly, is listed as follows;

  • Hormonal Changes: Alcohol can stimulate the conversion of the male sex hormone testosterone into estrogen. Research shows that plants that produce alcohol-based extracts and beverages contain elements called phytoestrogens that impact the functions of the male sex hormone testosterone. Heavy drinking also increases the aromatase enzyme activity, which converts the male sex hormone testosterone into the female sex hormone estrogen.

  • Behavioral Changes: Drinking would lead to the development of habits such as overeating, feelings of recklessness, or lowered inhibition. Most clinical research studies show that overeating that leads to high-calorie intake is more in alcoholics than in nonalcoholics.

  • Interference in Sleep: Deep sleep is greatly interfered during the night and cause clinical symptoms in the daytime, like drowsiness, fatigue, and inability to focus or concentrate properly, ultimately leading to psychological stress.

  • Impaired Nutrient Absorption: Damage to the gastrointestinal tract is possible in heavy or regular alcohol drinkers resulting in impaired nutrient absorption.

What Are the Adverse Effects of Alcohol?

The given below effects would occur in chronic alcoholism whether the consumption is mild, moderate, or heavy (with heavy drinking having the highest effects impacting multi-organ systems).

  • Distorted vision and hearing.

  • High blood pressure level.

  • Changes or fluctuations in body temperature.

  • Lowered inhibition levels.

  • Increased mood swings.

  • Slow reflex action.

  • Decreased motor coordination.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Possibility of dizziness or temporary blackouts.

  • Trouble during speaking or slurred speech.

  • Focusing or concentration issues.

  • Malnutrition or nutrient malabsorption issues.

  • Suicidal or self-harming tendencies.

  • Depression.

  • Risk of cardiovascular stroke or cerebral damage.

  • Oral and gastric ulcerations.

  • Hepatitis and fatty liver disease.

  • Increased risk of liver cancer.

  • Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, and throat.

What Are the Healthier Alternatives of Alcohol?

Statistics based on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports (NIAAA) suggest that one “standard” drink in the United States would consist of nearly 14 grams of pure alcohol. Alcohol also has no nutritional content and only empty calories that can deplete the body of its natural energy or focus. In addition, many commercial alcoholic adult beverages are blended with sugary mixes that contribute to the increased yet unhealthy calories even on a single consumption. Though various clinical studies have focused on the health benefits associated with mild to moderate red wine, as it is a rich resveratrol source. Resveratrol in red wine is a natural antioxidant found in grape skin. This can have beneficial effects that reduce oxidative stress and prevent the release of free oxygen radicals that damage host immunity. The healthy alternatives for resveratrol consumption would be through foods without consumption of red wine. These sources are grapes, cranberries, cocoa, peanuts, blueberries, and bilberries. So these healthier fruit juice-based drinks would be more immune-enhancing than the alcohol-based drinks that contain resveratrol.


Regular or daily consumption would hamper work life, create addictions and impact systemic health. Alcohol abuse occurs when the individual is addicted to alcohol and unable to cut back on drinking or stop this habit. A healthcare provider, physician, or nutritionist can provide multiple ways to deal with this addiction. Proper counseling, moral help, and realization of cessation of the habit can not only create self-awareness but also benefit them in the long term by keeping them away from the harmful effects of alcohol addiction or substance abuse.

Last reviewed at:
24 May 2023  -  3 min read




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