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7 Nov 2017

Alcohol and Your Body


Let’s face it, most of us like the odd tipple – but the festive period can bring its share of hangover potential, with office parties, nights out with friends and plentiful meals and drinks shared with family over the holiday season.

But do you know what actually happens to your body when you consume alcohol?

So, first – you take a drink

When you drink, the alcohol will reach your stomach and from there it is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. The process only takes about twenty minutes, and there is a 20/80 split between alcohol absorbed in the stomach/small intestine. Food eaten recently will slow down the absorption, and rates are also dependant on what you are drinking (the percentage of alcohol in the drink), as well as how fast you drink. There is something called BAC – the blood alcohol concentration, this determines the effect at which you notice changes in your body from consuming alcohol. Roughly speaking the body can process one unit of alcohol per hour, if you consume more than that then the effects will rise (this is not to be confused with drink drive limits).

The Brain Reaction

When you drink you will no doubt feel more relaxed, many of us will drink for this very reason, especially in social situations. This is because alcohol has a relaxing impact on both the brain and the nervous system. Your inhibitions lower, you feel happy, calm and confident – all of which come about as a result of extra dopamine being produced (the feel good chemical). But there is a fine line to this situation – too much alcohol and judgement can become impaired, mood levels can fall, balance issues kick in and reaction times slow to name a few things.

The Body Reaction

Initially drinking alcohol relaxes the blood vessels and as such your blood pressure lowers, but your heart rate rises to pump enough blood to your organs. In turn blood flow to your muscles weakens, which is partly why when you are hung over you can feel achy. For many people alcohol irritates the stomach, and when too much is consumed vomiting occurs. It can also cause sweating, and acts as a diuretic, hence why again when hung over you seem to need to pee often, but cannot quench your thirst. Only 10% of alcohol is expelled from your urine and breath, leaving 90% of the breaking down work to your liver.

That Drunken Feeling…

Some people naturally get more ‘drunk’ than others, women generally feel the effects before men – due to the higher levels of fat in their body (which alcohol doesn’t absorb). Of course it also depends on your size, what you have eaten, what you are drinking and how fast.

The Guidelines

Whilst it might seem boring, have enough alcohol to feel merry, but not so much that you are going to feel unwell at the event and suffer a raging hangover the next day. Intersperse alcohol with water and soft drinks and have some alcohol free days every week. Government guidelines are 14 units per alcohol per week.

Written by: I4C_Blog_Admin