Alcohol And Aging
Look around you in the lunch hours, during the happy hour after work, on the college campuses, at sports events, in basements, at pubs and bars, at weddings, at parties, at functions – what you see are people drinking alcohol. Millions of these people are addicted to alcohol, many of them are drinking to cover up some painful emotions, many of them need a glass in hand to cover up inadequacies, lack of confidence, and the list goes on. Some of these will drink to excess and many do and will get alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition and yet it is totally preventable. Some people even laugh off the prospects of alcohol poison – never! “I’ll just sleep it off,” they say, or “just a cup of strong caffeine will fix me up in no time”.
Today, you will see what a strong relationship there is between alcohol and aging – you will see what it does to your looks and your health, contributing quickly to aging. Naturally, the media will have you believe what you see; pictures that show beautiful people with beautiful bodies sipping on pink cocktails garnished with delicious fruity cherries, lemons and other fruits that go with a kind of lavish lifestyle. You would find it hard to believe what harm it is actually doing.
What does the Institute of Alcohol Studies have to say about drinking large amounts of alcohol? – That it can cause over 60 types of health problems and physical conditions. And look what a New York nutritionist says of alcohol “it is one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin.”
You are no longer beautiful
Studies indicate that drinking alcohol ages you biologically. This puts you at high risk for diseases like diabetes and dementia. The more you drink, the more you age. And not only that, you become wrinkled, faster. You lose the collagen in your skin, which affects elasticity. You become dehydrated and puffy, with a red skin.
Remember, there are no nutrients in alcohol. Drinking it actually adversely affects your nutrition levels because the alcohol depletes healthy nutrients that help to carry oxygen through your body. Alcohol drinking has a huge effect on your vitamin A levels, and we all know what an important antioxidant for your skin and body vitamin A is – for the regeneration of new cells. This is the vitamin that produces collagen in your skin. It is the collagen that keeps your skin nice and supple, taut, and youthful looking and alcohol drinking speeds this up faster. We know too, that the facial skin is in any case much more delicate compared to the other skin areas of the body and when exposed to pollution, smoke, smog, and germs, it is at risk on a daily basis in any case – drinking alcohol just rapidly speeds up the aging clock.
There is no argument that when you drink too much alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated. It’s because the alcohol causes the whole process of your anti-diuretic hormone, vasopressin, to slow down. Now your kidneys need to work at twice the pace to counteract all the excess fluid, eventually causing your organs to become dehydrated. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and when you leave it so dehydrated regularly, it starts to look wrinkled and cracked and people will think you are older than you really are.
When you are dehydrated, it won’t just affect your skin; it takes a toll on your hair as well. What you end up with is hair that becomes brittle with split ends. There are plenty products on the market that can combat brittle hair and split ends, but what about the loss of hair? When you drink a lot of alcohol, you cause your zinc supplies in your body to become deficient. The National Institute of Health says that around 30–50 % of people who are alcoholics have low zinc levels and this can cause hair loss. Other vitamins get lost too, such as vitamin B and vitamin C, as well as estrogen.
When you down a lot of alcohol, it causes your skin to become red, and not just on a temporary basis. This condition is known as rosacea. Drinking alcohol in excess alters the blood flow to your skin, giving it that unattractive, unhealthy appearance for days on end. Alcohol causes the small blood vessels of your skin to widen which allows more blood to flow close to the surface of the skin. Sometimes the blood vessels on your face under the skin burst and the little capillaries break. That will extend to your eyes as well, which will become irritated. You have seen people walking around with bloodshot eyes and that is just the start. Heavy binging of alcohol can actually cause blindness – it’s called optic neuropathy. Another name is toxic amblyopia.
If you drink, you might know the feeling you get when your clothes seem to cut into your gut area. When your body has not had sufficient fluids or electrolytes, it will try and store any water you drink and what you eat. The more you drink alcohol, the more you need to disappear to the bathroom – and you will be sweating more too. When you don’t replace those fluids, your body tries to retain the water that’s left in the body, leaving the gut area puffy and protruding. Your hands, feet, and face will also get that puffy bloated look.
Drinking alcohol in excess can in most cases leave you not knowing what you are doing all the time. By the time you get home, you aren’t even fully in control and you have no energy to brush your teeth or wash your face. Maybe it doesn’t matter so much if it is once in a while, but when it becomes a habit, you are encouraging acne from the dirty oily skin, cavities, gum disease and plenty of personal hygiene problems. Who will want to share a bed with you then? Bad hygiene will negatively affect your self-esteem and social life.
If your liver is damaged from drinking too much alcohol, you run the risk of really ruining your looks. Apart from that, damaging your liver is life-threatening. You shouldn’t just ignore those dark circles under your eyes. They could be bloodshot or even yellowish in color. This might mean you are jaundiced. Look out also for skin rashes which can appear on your body. The liver is a vital organ in your body and many symptoms of the liver can appear.
Studies show that alcohol consumption, except red wine, can result in you gaining weight. Those who drink a relaxing drink every now and then won’t really be affected, but according to a study in Spain by the University of Navarra, heavy drinkers gain weight. It is also because drinking also promotes the appetite, it increases impulsivity and it redistributes the fat.
Alcohol even effects how you sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, it shows up in your looks. Your eyes look tired and your motivation is lower when you get up the morning to look your best. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, claims that sleep deficiency is linked to obesity. You need proper rest because when you are sleeping, the body is repairing itself, i.e. your blood vessels, your heart, your immune system. All of these things will depend on how you look and feel on the outside.
Your health is affected which causes rapid aging
- You have a hard time walking, you have blurred vision and slurred speech, impaired memory, slow reaction time – it is clear that alcohol affects the brain.
- You may notice these impairments after one or two drinks which will stop when you stop drinking.
- However, someone who drinks heavily over a long time period could have brain deficits that will persist well after he or she becomes sober again. Just how alcohol affects the brain is a hot topic of research.
Digestive and endocrine glands are affected
- Drinking too much alcohol will cause digestive enzymes to become abnormally activated by the pancreas and this leads on to inflammation called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis, in turn, can become a serious long-term complication.
- Getting back to the liver, this is an organ which breaks down and removes harmful substances from the body, and this includes alcohol.
- When you drink alcohol long-term, it increases the risk of liver disease and chronic liver inflammation. Scarring occurs from the inflammation, called cirrhosis.
- When there is a formation of scar tissue, the liver is destroyed. The liver just becomes more damaged and has a hard time trying to remove the toxic substances from your body. Liver disease is a life-threatening disease and women are more at risk for developing an alcoholic liver disease.
- The pancreas helps to regulate the body’s insulin levels and responds to glucose.
- When the pancreas and liver don’t function properly, you are likely to experience low blood sugar. Another name is hypoglycemia.
- When the pancreas is damaged, it prevents the body from producing sufficient insulin to utilize sugar. Then you can get something called hyperglycemia – when there is too much sugar in your blood.
- When the body is unable to manage and balance the blood sugar levels, you could experience complications and side effects such as diabetes.
Central nervous system
- Alcohol affects the central nervous system. As mentioned above, slurred speech is one of the signs.
- Alcohol also reduces communication between the brain and the body, making coordination difficult. You might not even be able to balance which means you should never drive after you have been drinking.
- You could also experience tingling sensations in your hands and feet and even numbness.
- You can’t think clearly anymore and you can’t make rational choices.
- Frontal lobe damage can even occur and this is the area of the brain which is responsible for your emotional control, judgment and short-term memory.
- Severe and also chronic alcohol abuse can literally cause you permanent brain damage.
- There is a connection between drinking alcohol and the digestive system. The side effects sometimes only appear after the damage has been done.
- Drinking damages the tissues in your digestive tract, preventing your intestines from being able to digest food and to absorb minerals and vitamins. That means malnutrition will set in.
- Excess drinking means bloating, gassiness, a feeling of fullness in your abdomen and diarrhea.
- Ulcers and hemorrhoids can develop, especially if you become constipated and dehydrated.
- You can experience internal bleeding which could prove to be ulcers. If not diagnosed early, ulcers can be fatal.
- People who drink too much alcohol put themselves at risk for getting cancer. This can be cancer of the mouth, the liver, the throat, the colon, and the esophagus.
- Some people also use tobacco at the same time as they are drinking which puts them even at higher risk for cancer.
Circulatory system and matters of the heart
- Alcohol affects your heart and lungs.
- Chronic drinkers of alcohol stand a higher chance of developing heart-related issues than those who don’t drink, and it affects women more.
- You experience circulatory problems like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke; difficulty for blood to pump through the body, heart disease, heart attack and heart failure.
Sexual and reproductive health is affected
- You might think that when you drink alcohol you lose all your inhibitions and sexual activity is more laid back and fun. But in actual fact, it is quite a different matter. Men who drink a lot can experience erectile dysfunction; alcohol drinking can prevent sex hormone production and instead of the fun, there is actually lowered libido.
- Women who drink too much may have fertility problems, they might experience menstruation problems and if they drink while they are pregnant, they affect not only the baby, but premature delivery, stillbirth or miscarriage occurs.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders, learning difficulties, children with long-term health issues and physical development problems are all that happens to children whose mothers were drinkers of alcohol whilst pregnant.
Skeletal and muscle system
- Using alcohol over the long term can weaken your bones, increasing the risk of fractures should you fall. And unfortunately, fractures don’t heal quickly. It can also lead to weakness in the muscles, muscle cramping and atrophy of the muscles.
- When your body is in such a frail position, your immune system cannot cope properly making it more difficult to fight off viruses and invading germs. Other diseases are pneumonia and tuberculosis when your body is at such low resistance.
Dependency on alcohol is serious
Those who drink heavily can develop an emotional and physical dependency on alcohol. And to withdraw from it can be life-threatening and very difficult. Often you need to seek professional help to break alcohol addiction. You need to get detoxified to get sober. Check out the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heavy sweating
If you have severe withdrawal symptoms, you could experience seizures, delirium, and hallucinations. The best way you can reduce the aging effects of drinking alcohol is to cut it out altogether. There are great substitutes, but it’s up to you:
- Plain sparkling water with a slice of lemon or some ice.
- Lime and soda: A splash of lime cordial with a wedge of lime is really refreshing
- Diet soft drinks which contain minimal calories.
- Tea or coffee – lots of bars offer the option of tea and coffee now and even keep semi- and skimmed milk.
- Pure fruit juices: Although they have sugar they are healthier and when you mix them with soda, there are no added calories and the drink goes further.
‘Let food be thy medicine’
Experts believe that the effect of all the booze on our body can detrimentally affect our health, and particularly the liver, but that certain specific foods can help the ravages that the alcohol has left. The experts do recommend cutting out alcohol entirely from this diet, as long as it has not progressed too far.
- Stay away from fatty foods like cheese, butter, cream, meat, and margarine.
- Consume plenty of all fruits, particularly watermelon and papaya, as well as vegetables.
- Drink water that is infused with fig leaves. (A powerful tonic for diabetes but also for excess alcohol symptoms).
- Eat onions and garlic – chop these and allow to stand for 10 minutes for the allicin to be produced for you eat or cook it.
- Take herbal teas, 4 cups a day. These can be chamomile, anise, fennel, ginseng, ginger, grape seed extract, and seaweed for example.
- Eat tomatoes – they should be lightly cooked, consuming them with small drops of cold pressed oil or fish.
- Avocado is excellent to eat with the tomatoes as it has natural plant oils in it and which aids in absorbing the lycopene in tomatoes.
- Drink plenty of bottled mineral or filtered water to wash out the toxins
- Detoxification of the liver is also helped by loading up on foods rich in potassium.
Fast aging from alcohol
Most people understand; they know that alcoholism is a disease with long-term effects on health. Heavy drinkers need to understand that they are setting themselves up for faster aging and some very unwanted diseases into the future. Binge drinkers will see their health deteriorate, but they will also see their jobs, friendships, and marriage go up in smoke too – not to even mention the horrible risk of vehicle accidents. One in every eight Americans is an alcoholic.
The stats are scary
In the USA, those that said they had drunk alcohol in the last year has increased by 11%. What is considered high-risk drinking, i.e. drinking more than four drinks in a day, every week, has increased by 30%. Disorders caused by alcohol has increased by nearly 50%. Although the increases were apparent for everyone, the stats for high-risk drinking for women increased close to 60%! Stress and demoralization were some of the reasons.
OK – everybody wants to have fun and enjoy life and every once in a while it is fine to chink-chink a glass to your or someone else’s happiness and success. But if you let it get the better of you, it will soon get the better of you – it might just be that when you try and chink-chink again into the future, you might not even remember or care or even be able to hold the glass because your rose-colored glasses will be cracking and might already have lost their sparkle.