Page 21 - Senior Times South Central Michigan July 2020 - 27-07
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Senior Times - July 2020 Page 21
 is the biggest overall effect alcohol has on your body. Inflammation is your body’s protective response to threats. In response to alcohol, your body generates endotoxins that trigger inflam- mation. If you drink often, the body is never able to let its defenses down. Remaining in a constant state of inflammation wears on your body, eventually causing damage to your tissues in the form of chronic inflammation.
quicker their immune system can clear out an invading bacteria, antigen, or virus and recover from a disease.Alcohol distracts your immune system. If your body is constantly working on getting rid of the alcohol, it may fail to notice new problems coming in the door.
It’s important to make informed decisions about your health. But what do we do with this general knowledge that alcohol is bad for us? Should we quit drinking altogether?
Alcohol throws gut bacteria out of balance.
Consider that alcohol is part of our social lives, our connection with friends, and our rela- tionships with loved ones. If we drink once in
a while, we get the benefits of enjoyable con- nection. If we drink too much and too often, we lose those benefits.
Alcohol causes rapid overgrowth of certain gut bacteria. The toxins they produce overwhelm the helpful bacteria, disrupting the delicate sys- tems that process your food and send signals to your immune system to protect the body.
The problem is that your HPA axis views alcohol as a stressful event and elevates your stress hormone levels when you drink. Chronic exposure to alcohol can burn out your HPA axis and blunt your body’s response to other stress- ors. That means your body has a harder time keeping inflammation in check.
We all know the habits of drinking safely and responsibly. Here are some tips to keep your body healthy:
• Follow a pattern of drinking infrequently – not
One study found that 30% of those with liver disease caused by alcohol have a rare strain of gut bacteria, which produces a cell-killing toxin called cytolysin. When stimulated by alcohol, another rapidly reproducing bacteria begins pumping out something called lipopolysaccha- ride (LPS). LPS overwhelms the gut’s gatekeep- ing bacteria, allowing these toxins to permeate the gut barrier and spread throughout the body to other organs.
This is a long way of saying, alcohol is hard on your immune system, and over time, it has a harder time showing up to do its job.
every day.
• Schedule a “dry” stretch into your calendar
Toxins affect more than just your gut. It’s the liver’s job to filter these toxins and send them out of the body. As it tries to keep up over time, the liver eventually develops scarring – a poten- tially life-threatening condition called cirrhosis.
diving into a good book.
• If you have a difficult relationship with alco-
Alcohol contributes to fatty liver disease.
mocktail instead. It’s a festive, but non-alcoholic party drink. They are made by mixing different fruit juices, iced tea, soft drinks or other carbon- ated beverages and as a result are more visually and aesthetic appealing than normal soft drinks. Not to mention, quite yummy.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 90% of people who drink four to five (4-5) drinks per day over decades have fatty liver. That’s reason enough to consider swapping the occasional drink for a mocktail.
When your body is exposed to a threat, the immune system mounts a response to attack and get rid of the foreign pathogen. Alcohol makes it harder for your immune system to show up for work, so to speak.
Alcohol affects immunity. In general, the healthier a person’s immune system is, the
Molly Apel writes about health and busi- ness-tech trends from an island near Seattle, WA. Her work appears on sites like Bulletproof, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Microsoft, and Amazon. She is a cancer survivor, aspiring health nut, free-range mother and an organ-
ic farmer. She is usually outside, in the rain, exploring the outdoors.
Your brain plays a big role in sensing when it’s time to kick your immune response into high gear. In response to stress, your brain activates the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is like a superhero, team- ing up with your body’s immune cells to keep inflammation in check.
Here’s the bottom line. Lots of threats can affect your body’s immune system, from sleep quality to gut bacteria. Unlike other health fac- tors, how much you drink is all in your hands.
Alcohol damages your physical defenses.
• Find alternate ways of “decompressing” after
Alcohol can damage the microscopic cilia in the top of the lungs that catch and stop harmful bacteria, antigens, and viruses as they enter. If the invaders get past the cilia, that’s bad news because alcohol also damages the last line of defense – the mucous membrane in the bottom of the lungs, which typically stop the bad guys from permeating the body. Studies show that drinking makes the lungs more susceptible to ailments like pneumonia and viruses.
The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. That said, right now the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Surgeon General agree that during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re tak- ing a conservative stance, recommending the optimal amount of alcohol to drink to be ... none.
a long week, like a long talk with a friend or
hol, speak to a professional.
If you’re craving something sippable, try a
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