How Food And Alcohol Affects The Body

It is well known that overeating and excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing life-long health conditions. Not only can overeating unhealthy foods cause obesity, obesity can in turn lead to a number of other health issues such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Similarly, alcohol binging is known to be a primary cause of liver disease, but experts warn that it can also put other organs at risk. Research has also shown that a high alcohol intake can affect your mental wellbeing.

The occasion most associated with overeating and weight gain is the festive season, with experts warning that this period in particular can have a detrimental effect on your health. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, people gain approximately five pounds over the two-week festive period. With each of us typically consuming up to 6,000 calories on Christmas day, the long-term health risks during this time are greater than ever. According to researchers from the University of California, the short-term result of overindulging is that it can affect your body clock in a similar way to jet lag, but instead upsetting your body's 'food clock'.

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Alcohol

Every time you drink alcohol, the vast majority is absorbed straight into your bloodstream. It is common for the need to urinate to increase, but only a small amount passes through your system. The majority is spread throughout the body and can have a serious effect on your organs and overall health. Excessive drinking can put pressure on your organs and cause a number of problems, such as:

  • Bladder:the need to urinate more frequently occurs because you are drinking a lot of fluid too quickly for your body to handle. Your bladder is attempting to rid your body of the toxins that alcohol can produce. This added pressure on the bladder could cause it to weaken, leading to incontinence.

  • Pancreas:excessive alcohol consumption means the pancreas cannot function how it should to help the gallbladder digest food. In fact, the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is alcohol overuse, and this can also cause hyperglycaemia.

  • Liver:alcohol is most damaging to this organ as the liver's main job is to break down harmful substances in your body, including alcohol, and you are excessively piling on the pressure after many beverages. Alcohol abuse can lead to jaundice, chronic liver inflammation, liver disease and liver cancer, which is life threatening.

  • Nervous system:Excessive drinking can inhibit your body's ability to function correctly. This includes an inability to walk, slurred speech and lack of balance. Not only will you have an inability to think clearly, memory loss and blackouts may also occur as a result of binge drinking. If alcohol abuse continues, your risk of long term health effects are greatly increased, with conditions such as dementia, seizures, serious sight issues and a vitamin B1 deficiency being just some of the issues that could be experienced.

Alcohol addiction

According to experts, alcohol is the most addictive substance in the world, even over nicotine and Class A drugs. The NHS says around of 9% of men and 4% of women in the UK experience some sort of alcohol dependency. Such an addiction can cause psychological and physical health complications.

Food

The most obvious effect of overeating is obesity. Obesity can contribute to various health problems. These include:

  • Poor emotional wellbeing:confidence may plummet and can cause further psychological issues such as depression, guilt, social isolation and stress. Some may find they eat more when anxious at work or at home, leading to a lower quality of life.

  • Type 2 diabetes:obesity is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that needs to be monitored daily, and requires lifestyle changes and often medication to manage it.

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol:Overeating clogs the arteries with fatty deposits, causing high blood pressure.

  • Heart disease and stroke:high blood pressure and cholesterol put a strain on the arteries and heart, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

  • Certain cancers:Uterus, cervix, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate cancer have all been linked to obesity.

  • Sexual health:obesity is often linked to diminished emotional wellbeing as well as physical problems such as erectile dysfunction.

  • Physical health:If you are overweight or obese, you will find it increasingly difficult to lose that extra weight, as exercise may leave you breathless. Obesity has also been linked to sleep problems, including sleep apnea.

Simple ways to control your alcohol and food intake

Reducing your food and alcohol intake can decrease your risk of developing health problems.

Cutting down on food Cutting down on alcohol
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Enlist the help of friends and family
  • Reduce your intake of salt and sugar
  • Don't ever drink with the aim of getting drunk
  • Break your bad habits
  • Keep a drinking diary
  • Drink more water (1- 2 litres daily)
  • Substitute every other drink with a soft drink or water
  • Get active with regular exercise
  • Have alcohol-free days
  • Reduce your calorie intake (women 2,000 cals and men 2,500 cals)
  • After a heavy night, 'detox' your body by drinking water
  • Don't forget to treat yourself occasionally
  • Set out a plan
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