Many of us like a pint of beer from time to time, but the number of people who are drinking heavily has long reached alarming levels.
Approximately 5% of the world’s deaths can be attributed to alcohol problems, while the health problems heavy drinking causes for many is far, far greater. Of course, many people do get the help they need, visiting a detox clinic and getting help on the road to recovery, but so many don’t and that ultimately catches up on them.
It does so in many different ways, largely the likes of liver failure and such diseases as a result of heavy drinking, but even regular sessions on a Saturday night can have an impact and cause issues with your immune system. But why is that the case?
Suppression of Immune Cells
Firstly, alcohol has immunosuppressive effects, which essentially means it will weaken the immune system’s ability to effectively respond to pathogens and decrease the body’s production of key immune cells. The likes of white blood cells play a crucial part in combatting infections, and with production lessened it heightens the risk of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens entering the body and taking hold.
Disruption of the Gut Microbiota
Alcohol can cause significant bowel and gut problems, with the gut microbiota particularly being affected. Here a diverse community of microorganisms live in harmony, playing a functional and important role in our immune system. Regular alcohol consumpton disrupts the balance of these microorganisms and causes weakened immune system responses that can leave you susceptible to infection as well as causing a range of bowel problems.
Impact on Respiratory Health
Drinking frequently has links to respiratory problems, including the increased risk of respiratory infections.
Alcohol impairs the functionality of the cilia, which helps remove mucus and particles from our system, but once that is compromised the likes of bronchitis and pneumonia become much more of a risk.
Alcohol will dehydrate us and lead to nutrient deficiencies as our body looks to battle the toxins of alcohol rather than take on the nutrients we’re getting through food that are crucial for our immune function.
This includes the likes of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and others. A compromised nutritional status weakens the immune system, reducing the body’s capacity to generate an effective immune response. The lack of these vital nutrients impairs the production of antibodies and the activation of immune cells, leaving individuals more susceptible to infections.
Increased Susceptibility to Chronic Conditions
Finally, regular drinking is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Many of us are already aware of this, but they can also create an environment that makes us much more vulnerable to infections. For example, chronic liver disease can impair the production of proteins essential for immune function, while cardiovascular disease can contribute to a pro-inflammatory state that weakens the body’s defences. This all contributes to much more difficult challenges in fighting off infections and living a healthy life, well and at that stage, any form of life in general.