Most of our generation is well used to the concept of binge drinking, but what happens to your body after the festive season has passed? With Christmas parties coming out of your ears all throughout December, a fair few drinks to wash down your turkey dinner on the day itself . . . along with all the alcohol you need to deal with the inevitable Christmas family drama. Follow that up with a night out on New Year’s Eve, all happening within quick succession, it’s no wonder half the population decide they need to sort their lives out with a detox come January time.
But what is all that binge drinking really doing to your body? Nobody ever feels great with a hangover the night after a big one; but what actually happens when you consistently drink too much, often on consecutive nights? We look briefly at seven different things you need to consider:
- Drinking with a hangover
- Your immune system
- Disturbed sleep
- Brain cells
- Your liver
Let’s get the vanity part out the way, shall we? Because while boozing can be a lot of fun, it doesn’t exactly do wonders for the way you look. Long term abuse can cause things like psoriasis. Even if you don’t have troubles with your skin, alcohol in large quantities can still impact the way you look. Alcohol causes the blood vessels in your face to dilate up on the skin so you’ll look red faced and ruddy.
There’s no beating around the bush, because drinking alcohol in great quantities will make you put on weight. Also, when we do we get hungry and we go and eat something horrendous with a huge salt content because our judgment is weakened and your eating habits go out of the window.
Drinking on a hangover
We have all heard of the ‘hair of the dog’ especially as it comes into its own at Christmas time when you’ve planned night out after night out. Yes, it will temporarily make you feel a bit better because some of the symptoms you are experiencing are a direct withdrawal effect. But there are obvious downsides: you end up getting drunk quicker, and it just masks the hangover, it doesn’t take it away.
Your immune system
It’s well known that our immune function system is reduced after drinking alcohol. Essentially, we are killing off our white blood cells. This ultimately then increases risk of infection.
When was the last time you woke up after a big binge session and felt fresh as a daisy and not in the least bit tired? I’d say never, and that’s because alcohol upsets your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is a phase of sleep which is important for your body to rest, so if you miss out on that, it can really impact you the next day.
They say you lose brain cells when drunk, and given some of the stupid decisions we make under the influence, it’s easy to see why. If you want any further proof that alcohol is damaging your brain, just think about what happens when you have too much of it. Alcohol is a depressant and if you drink enough of it you will fall asleep and your brain won’t work. If you drink enough of it, you’ll forget what happened.
In the long run, your liver
Although we think our livers are invincible, they’re not. Liver disease is the only common cause of death that is rising in Ireland. It’s gone up 400% since 1970, whereas every other common cause of death has largely stayed the same or dropped a bit. Normally, our liver is responsible for breaking down everything we put in our body and removing the toxins. So that’s anything from food, to drink, and even medicines. In turn, it then creates proteins to help us build muscle and cholesterol. Excessive binge drinking slows this process down.
So maybe you don’t need that last round of shots on your next night out! Why not have a pint of water instead?