Effects Of Alcohol On The Body
Though it’s perhaps better known for its psychological consequences, the effects of alcohol on the body are often just as significant. This single little molecule, known as methanol in the scientific community and consumed by humans for thousands of years, does some pretty interesting things to us when we drink it. Aside from making us more talkative (and sometimes much less conscious), alcohol affects nearly every other part of the body when consumed. From the digestive organs to the central nervous system, alcohol somehow sneaks its way into most bodily functions – read on to find out exactly how.
The first effect of alcohol on the body happens in your digestive system. Alcohol may have calories like any other form of nutrition, but your body actually treats it in a very unique way. Instead of going all the way through your digestive system, it is passed right into the bloodstream from your upper digestive organs (namely the stomach and intestines). From there, your bloodstream carries it throughout your body, and into the brain.
When alcohol enters your body, one major effect is that it is given first priority in digestion. Essentially, your body stops whatever it’s doing the moment it detects alcohol to focus on eliminating it. It happens because the body sees alcohol as a toxin, one that must be gotten rid of as soon as possible. The consequence of this is the postponing of food digestion for as long as alcohol stays in your system –which is a major contributing factor to the “beer gut” of many heavier drinkers. The organ bears the brunt of this task is the liver, which in chronic drinkers can become extremely damaged from being overworked.
In the bloodstream, the molecule gives rise to a strange event. “Blood sludging”, as it’s known in the medical community, is one of the lesser known effects of alcohol on the body. When it’s traveling through your bloodstream, alcohol causes blood cells to join together, essentially thickening the blood and causing increased pressure. This pressure, in turn, leads to decreased blood flow and eventual death of some brain cells – an effect synonymous with overconsumption of alcohol. It also accounts for those tell-tale bloodshot eyes the morning after a night of heavy drinking.
From the blood stream, alcohol seeps into your central nervous system’s control center. At this point, you will begin to feel the effects of alcohol on your body. The general sensation for most drinkers is a loss of sensitivity in body parts. With enough alcohol, a feeling of numbness can occur – which is why alcohol was used for so long as a primitive painkiller. This bodily effect of alcohol happens because, as the substance gets to your brain, specific neurotransmitters that give your body information about its surroundings are slowed down and even blocked by its present molecules.