Whether you occasionally drink alcohol or consume alcohol in moderation, you should understand how alcohol affects your health. Research on alcohol and the human body has revealed some health benefits and risks.
1. Alcohol affects men and women differently.
After a young woman and a young man drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will have a higher blood alcohol level. This is because younger women produce less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol in the stomach.
2. Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels.
The symptoms of alcohol intoxication and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are similar. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels while drinking, as hypoglycemia requires appropriate medical attention. If you are diabetic, talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol.
3. Moderate alcohol consumption could help protect against heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, moderate alcohol consumption increases good HDL cholesterol and reduces plaque buildup in the arteries.
Moderate alcohol consumption means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. To reduce your risk of heart disease, increase your physical activity and eat a healthy diet.
4. Many factors influence how people react to alcohol
Your age, gender, genetics, overall health and history of alcohol abuse can influence how your body reacts to alcohol. Alcohol flows through your organs based on the amount of water that is in them. Typically, women and older men have less water in their organs. As a result, less alcohol can enter their organs, so it stays in their bloodstreams for longer periods of time instead.
5. Drinking does not actually warm you up
Consuming alcohol causes blood to rush to the skin's surface, which makes you feel warmer. However, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, making you actually lose heat more quickly. Alcohol also impedes the body's warmth process by causing chills.
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of alcohol poisoning, Baylor St. Luke's Emergency Centers can help. Be proactive and know where to go in advance at PlanForIt.org.
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