It's break so your organs are celebrating
Did you know that taking a break is a feast for all your organs? Now that no toxic substances have to be broken down, your body can focus on what it was made for. Keep your body healthy and clean. On behalf of your organs: thank you!
Before we go into more detail about how your liver develops when you take an alcohol break, we will first show you how your liver works when you drink alcohol on the basis of three steps.
Step 1: The liver breaks down the alcohol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a poisonous substance, it affects the organs and is, among other things, responsible for the hangover.
Step 2: The liver breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid.
Step 3: The acetic acid is broken down into water and carbon dioxide. Water and carbon dioxide are excreted through urine and breath.
The claim that the liver rests and recovers with a month of alcohol break is not a fluke, but is supported by research. Researchers from Radboudumc, together with the NTR television program De Kennis van Nu, took the test. Fourteen moderate drinkers and the presenters of The Knowledge of Now did not drink alcohol for a month before the study. To exclude coincidences, nine abstainers participated as a control group. What turned out? An alcohol-free month caused the cholesterol levels to drop, the belly fat to decrease and the blood levels, which indicate an irritation of the liver and the decay of liver cells, also decreased.
You are (again) at home on the couch and you have just finished your first (and second, and third) alcoholic drink. You become a bit rosy, make a few good jokes, are extra cheerful, a bit more relaxed. Or the opposite happens: your mood changes. Instead of 'extra cozy' you become gloomy, anxious, unkind or even angry. Not pleasant for yourself and your environment and last but not least: not good for your brain.
Long term consequences
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time can also have long-term consequences, such as brain damage. A well-known example of this is Korsakov Syndrome. Memory problems and often neglect of appearance occur with this type of brain damage. The latter is due to the so-called loss of decorum, or loss of daily (external) care. The brain damage in Korsakov Syndrome is permanent and progressive (source: www.Gezondheidsplein.nl).
The Korsakov Syndrome is an extreme form of brain damage, but even a (one-off) form of alcohol poisoning can already be harmful to the brain. It is good to realize that a hangover is also a (mild) form of alcohol poisoning. The next day you may experience memory problems, concentration problems, fatigue and confusion. Severe alcohol poisoning (such as can occur during 'binge-drinking or 'drinking in a coma') is very dangerous at the moment: the alcohol can numb your nervous system and can cause your breathing to stop, resulting in death. Even if you survive an alcohol poisoning and are fully conscious again, you can suffer from the aforementioned complaints for a longer period of time.
Moderate drinking is also bad for the brain
As you read above, Korsakov Syndrome is an extreme form of brain damage. This affects a very small percentage of heavy drinkers. As a moderate drinker you are safe. Or not quite? British research shows that any glass is bad for your brain. The whole article 'Moderate drinking is also bad for the brain' you can read here.
Did you know that (excessive) drinking of alcohol can affect the muscle cells in the heart? Consistently drinking too much can lead to a severely weakened heart muscle, also known as a cardiomyopathy. This means that your heart muscle is slack, weaker and less able to pump vigorously. The only thing that helps is to stop drinking immediately (source: hartwijzer.nl).
Excessive drinking can lead not only to heart disease, but also to poor eating habits. Drinking alcohol reduces your need for food. This leads to a shortage of important substances in the long term. Vitamin B1 and electrolytes (particles that are important for the stimulus conduction system) are examples of this. Deficiency of these substances can lead to cardiac arrhythmias (source: hartwijzer.nl).
Alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure. With high blood pressure, your blood vessels are constantly under high pressure. Your blood vessels become narrower and the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases. With high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder and harder to pump blood. Your heart muscle then becomes thicker and stiffer (source: hartstichting.nl).
Alcohol has an unfavorable effect on fats and LDL cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol can lead to arteriosclerosis. Most cardiovascular diseases are caused by arteriosclerosis. High cholesterol is therefore a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Organs (such as the heart or brain) receive less oxygen as a result (source: hartstichting.nl).
The pancreas – also known as the pancreas – is a large gland located partly behind the stomach and duodenum. The main functions of this gland are to regulate the level of sugar in the blood and to promote digestion. Excessive drinking has a negative effect on the functioning of this organ.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, we speak of pancreatitis. When these inflammations keep coming back, we are dealing with chronic pancreatitis. The latter is common in people who drink alcohol excessively. Chronic pancreatitis manifests itself after six to twelve years of excessive drinking. Additional problems include diabetes, vitamin deficiency and jaundice.
Increased risk of pancreatic cancer
Research shows (Mirjam Heinen, Maastricht University), that there is a link between drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Excessive drinkers are one and a half times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than a total abstainer. Mirjam Heinen: “There are indications that alcohol consumption could cause pancreatic cancer in a number of ways. Alcohol abuse is a known risk factor of chronic pancreatitis; chronic inflammation of the pancreas. And this is another known risk factor of pancreatic cancer. Alcohol is also converted into various substances, including acetaldehyde. These substances appear to be carcinogenic to the pancreas. In addition, this conversion of alcohol into acetaldehyde can also produce products such as oxygen radicals that can damage the DNA of the cell.” (source: www.kennisinstituurnier.nl)
Because not enough is known about the development of pancreatic cancer, it is impossible to say what can prevent the disease. It is true that lifestyle advice can contribute to a reduction in the mortality rate from pancreatic cancer in the Dutch population. For example, it is not advisable to stop smoking or not, but a healthy weight, being physically active and moderate alcohol consumption also contribute to a healthy life.