How does alcohol tear your digestive system apart? Tips to Mitigate Risk

The stresses of everyday life can make many people find respite in a drink of alcohol, but that’s not exactly what’s best for you. It might be the perfect one-night getaway, but it could cost you in the morning. As much as we hate being a buzzkill, alcohol can be very bad for your health. And you don’t even have to drink a lot of it to feel its ravaging effects on your body. A binge with your friends can lead to an upset in your digestive system – one of the many side effects of drinking alcohol.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to disturbances in the digestive system, increasing the risk of serious health problems like cancer. Health shots contacted Dr Rakesh Patel, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Fortis Hospital in Kalyan, Maharashtra, to understand the link between alcohol and digestion.

How does alcohol affect your digestive system? Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

The side effects of alcohol on your digestive system

Have you ever felt an unpleasant feeling in your stomach after drinking alcohol the night before? The undeniable fact is that alcohol consumption does not promote digestive health but did you know it can lead to issues like acidity? Dr. Patel explains that alcohol can have damaging effects on many organs when consumed in excess. This includes your digestive system.

“As soon as you consume alcohol, it starts to affect your stomach and impacts your acid production, which does not allow the body to fight off the bacteria present there. This then leads to acidity. , which can cause heartburn, nausea, indigestion, inflammation, and sores, among other issues.

He further states that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to long-term gastric problems like gastrointestinal (GI) diseases or non-gastrointestinal disorders like gastritis, esophagitis, pancreatitis, hepatitis , cirrhosis, chronic diarrhea, etc. It can even lead to malnutrition, hematological diseases and affect the brain leading to neurological disorders. Too much alcohol can even increase the risk of mouth cancer and various other cancers, such as esophageal cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer.

alcohol and cancer
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to digestive problems. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Do not overconsume, limit your alcohol consumption to enjoy its benefits

While overconsumption of alcohol can lead to several side effects, limiting its consumption has been shown to have health benefits. Also, if these problems persist, you should consult a doctor. Medication or treatment may be needed to improve its health. Several studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can provide many potential benefits. It can reduce the risk of heart disease. Dr Patel says: “The type of drink doesn’t matter, but more than 40g/day has been shown to be harmful to the body. Also, alcohol should not be drunk during pregnancy, especially if there is a family history of liver disease or pancreatic cancer.”

According to some studies, there is no specific safe amount when it comes to alcohol consumption, and the parameters of it are different globally, depending on the country. In the United States, while men can drink more than 4 drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week, women can drink more than 1 drink a day or more than 7 drinks a week. Thus, if one tends to consume alcohol, it should be done in moderation, recommends the gastroenterologist.

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