Recently Dr. Daniel Amen published an article about debunking the myth that alcohol is a health food. His SPECT Imaging shows the holes and gaps that appear in the brains of even moderate drinkers. He also quotes a 2008 study from the Archives of Neurology, which found that “people who drink just one to seven drinks per week have smaller brains than nondrinkers, and those who have two or more drinks a day have even more brain shrinkage.”
In 2015, the journal Lancet published a research review that found that alcohol use does decrease the risk of heart attacks. That’s good news. The bad news is that they also found that it increased the risk of cancer and physical injuries. Dr Amen goes on to list other negative affects that alcohol has on the brain and body. It:
- Increases the risk of fatty liver disease,
- Contributes to peripheral neuropathies (pain and tingling in hands, legs, and feet),
- Damages neurons, especially those in the cerebellum.
- Interferes with vitamin b1 absorption, leading to serious cognitive problems.
- Decreases firing in the prefrontal cortex.
- Disrupts sleep.
- Predisposes you to sugar abuse.
- Stimulates appetite and is associated with continued eating after feeling full.
- Increases the production of insulin in the pancreas leading to low blood sugar levels and impaired decision making skills.
I appreciate his warnings, because it makes us stop and reassess our own actions and choices. Are they healthy choices? If not, is there an underlying reason for choosing ongoing self-destructive behavior like alcohol abuse?
Personally, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, especially when entertaining my friends. If we are consistently nurturing and caring for our health, any damage done from drinking a glass of wine or having a beer can quickly be repaired.
However, people who abuse alcohol usually also neglect their nutritional and sleep requirements. Plus they participate in risky behavior. If you find that this article alerts you to a problem, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get you onto the road to recovery.
Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.