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Not to be a buzzkill, but if you aremuch today, listen up. Alcohol, especially frequent and excessive drinking, can pose some serious risks to your health, especially when it comes to , din and total risk of developing serious complications from .
While summer is usually a season of beach holidays, pool parties and roof hanging, summer is not least normal. With, now is not the time to let your guard down when it comes to your health and immune system.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a single drink, but if you do more than that, health authorities such as the WHO warn people (PDF) about the potential risks that drinking alcohol can have for your health, especially with the coronavirus.
To find out exactly how alcohol can damage your immune system, how much it takes to get the effect and what it has to do with COVID-19, I lost two medical experts: Dr. Edo Paz, Medical Director of K Health; and Dr. Tom Moorcroft, founder of Origins of Health.
Alcohol weakens the immune system
Although there are no specific studies on how alcohol can affect your chances of COVID-19 specifically, there is a lot of research on the effect of alcohol on your immune system, which is the key to staying healthy and protecting yourself from disease. “We know that alcohol can affect several organ systems in the body, including the immune system,” says Paz. “A weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to all infectious diseases, including COVID-19.”
According to the WHO, alcohol consumption weakens your immune system in any amount, but this is especially true if you are a heavy drinker. According to Moorcroft, this is happening in some important ways.
First, if you have alcohol in your system when you come in contact with a virus, he says that the body’s chances of fighting it are much lower. “Alcohol in the body when exposed to a pathogen, such as SARS-CoV-2, can impair the body’s immediate immune response, making it easier for the pathogen to take hold and lead to an infection,” explains Moorcroft.
Alcohol can also alter your gut bacteria or your gut microbiome, affecting your immune system. “Short-term and long-term use of alcohol can impair immune function because it leads to changes in the microbiome – the microorganisms in the gut that help with normal bowel function,” says Moorcroft. “Changes in the microbiome due to alcohol use can also lead to damage to cells in the intestinal wall which can lead to leakage of microbes into the bloodstream and trigger inflammation.”
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome
Acute respiratory distress syndrome is one of the potentially serious complications that can occur with COVID-19. ARDS is a condition in which fluid fills the lungs and prevents the body from getting enough oxygen. ARDS can lead to death, and those who survive it can end up with serious lung damage. The WHO warns (PDF) that heavy drinking and alcohol use can increase your risk of this on your own, and Moorcroft agrees.
“Long-term use of alcohol has been associated with an increased risk of serious liver disease and certain cancers as well as an increased risk of developing ARDS – which is a potential problem in COVID-19. damage the cells that line the lung surface, making them less able to ward off infections, Moorcroft says.
Alcohol can interfere with sleep
Sleep is crucial to your overall health, and it is especially important for your immune system. You should strive for at least seven to eight hoursto keep your immune system in combat shape. According to the National Sleep Foundation, skimping on sleep can lower the proteins in the body that fight inflammation and infection, making you more susceptible to disease.
When it comes to alcohol and sleep, alcohol can affect two important things you need for quality support:and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
“Alcohol is constantly increasing GABA levels, a neurotransmitter that rises slowly during the day and is at its peak when it’s time to sleep,” says Moorcroft. “This is why many people get sleepy after a few drinks and then go to bed, only to find that they are struggling to get a good night’s sleep. When alcohol wears off, the artificial bulge in GABA disappears. The problem is that it prevented your natural levels from reaching appropriate levels to giving you a restful night’s sleep. ”
Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone”, which is why some people turn to itwhen they have difficulty getting enough sleep. According to Moorcraft, alcohol can also reduce the amount of melatonin that the body produces, making it harder to fall asleep and thus reducing the number of hours of sleep you get.
Melatonin may have benefits in addition to sleep, as it is currently being evaluated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Research published in Life Sciences says that melatonin treatments have shown that they help certain critical care COVID-19 patients. “Melatonin not only helps us sleep properly, it also helps block an inflammatory pathway triggered by SARS-CoV-2,” explains Moorcroft. “Melatonin acts as an anti-inflammatory and alcohol can interfere with normal melatonin production, leading to inflammation.”
How much alcohol is OK?
The bottom line is that drinking any amount of alcohol affects your body. And the more you drink, the more you can weaken your immune system.
“Consuming more than one to two drinks a day can increase the risk of several medical problems, including heart disease, cancer, weakened immune function and mental health problems,” says Paz. “For your immune system to function properly, you should avoid all alcohol. If you drink, it is better to consume less alcohol.”
This advice does not apply to anyone suffering from immunosuppression or being considered. These people, as well as those who have any previous medical conditions, should avoid alcohol altogether, according to Paz.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.