Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at June 20, 2013

Facts about Alcohol

Man smiling holding two beers

It would be foolish to try to list all the beliefs, axioms, and explanations put forth to justify drinking alcoholic beverages. The list is too long. Alcoholic beverages are said to keep the drinker warm and to keep him cool; to keep him awake, to help him sleep; to dull the senses, to make him more alert, and sensitive; to make him feel like a man, to recapture youth; to allow courage, to dull the sense of defeat; and on and on. We are told never to trust a man who has been drinking, but we have also heard that we can find the real truth when the teller is a little "tight."

Alcohol Makes A Person Warm. Is It True?
two men in ice holeAs soon as alcohol has been absorbed into the blood vessels they are dilated, thus permitting a larger quantity of blood to reach the capillaries than would normally be the case. This causes the face to flush and the skin to "feel" warm. An increased flow of perspiration may follow. However, the warmth is in sensation, or feeling, only. The rate at which heat is produced in the body is not increased, but the great flow of blood to the skin does increase the loss of heat; so, physiologically, instead of being warmer, the reverse is true. While one who has consumed alcohol may feel warmer, he is really interfering with the natural thermostat which adjusts the heat of his body. Instead of his getting warmer, more of his natural heat is being drained away. As a consequence the use of alcoholic beverages by people exposed to temperatures approximating freezing, or below, increases their danger or succumbing to cold by their use of these beverages.

Does Alcohol Make A Person Braver?
After partaking of an alcoholic beverage, a person may feel quite capable of doing many things. Some become very active and excited. The controls which each person normally exercises over behavior through good judgment as to what he should do or not do, or what risks he may safely take, become unreliable and are at times disregarded. The person then becomes foolhardy in his actions. He risks his life under circumstances that, before his judgment was interfered with, he would have been quite unwilling to do. There was a time in the early days of naval conflicts when "grog" (rum and water mixed) was served to all on board when the decks were cleared for battle. This "grog" was at times referred to as giving the men "Dutch" courage. It would not make them braver but it would affect adversely their judgments as to what risks should be taken, and acted as an anesthetic in case of minor injuries. It made the fighters think they were fighting better, when they actually were not fighting as well.

Does Alcohol Cure Snake Bites?
The use of alcohol internally as medicine was originally based upon the idea that alcohol was a stimulant. In case of any accident, including snake bite, it was administered to increase the strength of the patient so that he could throw off the effects of the venom. This is now known as false. Alcohol is a pain reliever and a depressant. If the patient drinks enough alcohol, the pain, fear and excitement will be ameliorated, and the patient will fall asleep.

Since there are but a few varieties of venomous snakes, a large percentage of the patients got well and their "cures” were attributed to the use of the alcoholic beverages. This produced a general bit of folklore that has now reached the point of being considered humor.

Does Alcohol Prevent or Cure A Cold?
Man with cough syrupThere are two general reasons for this belief - one being that many people like the taste of the alcoholic beverage and the other is that thinking it makes them feel warmer. It does have a sedative action. But warm fruit-juice and aspirin, and consulting a physician, are much better. While alcohol does raise the temperature of the skin, at the same time the pores are opened and the individual is more likely to catch a cold than to be cured. It also decreases the sense of caution, and the individual exposes himself and makes the cold worse. This is why deaths from pneumonia are much greater in heavy drinkers.

Does Alcohol Improve Eyesight?
When the vision is normal the image formed on the retina of each eye is thrown into a single object perceived in the visual center of the brain. This is done by means of adjustment of a group of muscles which regulate each eye. Alcohol interferes not only with the muscular adjustment of the eyes, but with the interpretation of the image which reaches the brain center. Any variation causes a blurred image, and if the variation is sufficient there will be two images. The first evident effect of alcohol is on the brain which involves both the muscular and nervous systems. It can affect eyesight only adversely.

Does Alcohol Give A Person A Better Appetite and For A Better Digestion?
Pairing red wine with dinnerTo a person accustomed to an alcoholic beverage with a meal, it seems to make the food taste better, just as individuals accustomed to heavily-spiced food think moderately-flavored dishes are insipid.

Alcohol would appear to aid digestion because it increases the flow of gastric juices, but this stimulation upsets the balance between the acid and the pepsin, making the acid strong enough to be quite irritating to the lining of the stomach in addition to increasing the flow of gastric juices, making this a quite undesirable time for drinking such beverages.

Does Alcohol Make A Person Stronger Physically?
Faced with a hard, physical assignment one who takes one or two drinks to fortify himself against becoming tired, is still subject to fatigue afterward, but his nervous system cannot send the proper alarm signals to warn him. He actually is more fatigued because he becomes clumsier and makes more mistakes.

As soon as alcohol gets into the blood stream the body begins to oxidize it by changing it into carbon dioxide gas and oxygen. This process produces heat as represented by calories. However, this heat energy cannot be stored in the body, and consequently, does not add to the body's strength for long, hard physical work. At the same time it deadens the awareness of being tired and may produce a dangerous condition of exhaustion.

Is Alcohol A Food?
A food is any substance, solid, semi-solid, or liquid consumed to nourish and sustain the body in its growth and health maintenance without deleterious effect on any part or function of the body. A variety of foods is required. Some provide heat energy, others contribute the building elements termed proteins and minerals; some provide the complicated structures known as vitamins. Most foods provide more or less of each of these substances. The excess usable bodily contributions made by a food are storable for use when needed later. Unutilized materials are eliminated.

Refined sugar, generally used in sweets, is a food because it can be stored in the body and used to produce protoplasm and energy for muscular work and body heat. But in comparison to fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, nuts, and bread, sweets which contain only refined sugar and no nuts and milk have been referred to as "empty calories." Alcohol represents not only "empty calories," but also "toxic or drugged calories".

Alcohol is not classified as a food in medical dictionaries. One of the reasons for this is that as soon as alcohol gets into the blood stream the body attempts to get rid of it by the process known as oxidation, or burning. While alcohol does carry a value in calories, they cannot be stored for future use, and other resources of the body must be used to replace the losses due to the effects of alcohol upon the nervous and muscular system.

To be healthy, therefore, keep away from alcohol. If you do drink, make sure to do it in moderation. Alcohol preserves the dead and kills the living, especially if it is abused.





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