How alcohol tears up your digestive system? Here’s how to mitigate the risk

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The stress of everyday life can force many people to find respite in a glass of alcohol, but it is not exactly the best for you. It may be the perfect getaway for a night, but it could cost you a deal in the morning. As much as we hate to be a buzzkill, alcohol can be really bad for your health. And you don’t even need to drink a lot of it to feel its effects wreaking havoc on your body. A binge-session with your friends can lead to an upheaval in your digestive system – one of the many side effects of drinking alcohol.

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, too much alcohol can lead to disruptions in the digestive system, increasing the risk of serious health problems like cancer. Healthydailytips team got in touch with 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

Side effects of alcohol on your digestive system

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

“The moment you consume alcohol, it starts affecting your stomach and impacts your acid production, which does not allow the body to fight the bacteria present there. This then leads to acidity, which can cause heartburn, nausea, indigestion, inflammation, and lesions, among other problems.”

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

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

Don’t over-consume, limit your alcohol intake to reap its benefits

While over-consumption of alcohol can lead to several side effects, limiting its intake has proven to offer health benefits. Also, if these problems persist, one must consult a doctor. Medications or treatment might be needed to improve one’s health. Several studies have found that consuming alcohol in moderation may offer many potential benefits. It can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr Patel says, “The type of beverage doesn’t matter, but quantity beyond 40 gm/day is proven to be harmful to the body. Also, one should not have alcohol during pregnancy, especially if there is a family history of liver disease or pancreatic cancer.”

As per some studies, there is no specific safe amount when it comes to the consumption of alcohol, and the parameters for it are different globally, depending on the country. In the USA, while men can consume more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week, women can have more than 1 drink per day or more than 7 drinks per week. Hence, if one tends to consume alcohol, then one should do so in moderation, recommends the gastroenterologist.

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