Here’s a fun fact: alcohol sales were up 20% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s face it, isolating during this global pandemic leading right into summer may have changed your drinking habits. Let’s take a look at what happens to our body when we make alcohol a part of our daily routine.
- It can cause gut bacteria and digestion problems
We all have bacteria in our stomachs that allow for normal digestion. After every first sip, alcohol immediately affects this area of the body, reducing those healthy microbiomes, according to a study published in the journal Alcohol Research.
Drinking alcohol every day, then, means lasting damage to the stomach and digestive lining, causing what the research calls "leakage." The digestive system and intestines are where the body fights infections, so you also are at risk of getting sick more often (more on that later).
- You will gain weight
Wine and cheese, beer and hamburgers, mimosas and brunch—there are so many ideal alcohol and food pairings out there. But drinking alcohol, especially too much, can lead to increased inhibition and excess caloric intake. Once ingested the body prioritized the metabolism of alcohol, leaving other nutrients (fat, carbohydrates) to be stored as fat in the body. That means that alcohols presence in the body delays fat-burning in the body. Moderation is key.
- Your workouts will suffer
If you're working toward gaining muscle while also drinking alcohol every day, you won't see the results of all your intense work. Alcohol intake affects the rate by which muscles repair (when working out, muscles tear and then repair, leading to growth)," This is especially important after workouts and resting between workouts when more protein synthesis will occur. A 2014 study in the journal PLOS One found that drinking alcohol four hours after a workout, even in addition to protein, reduced muscle growth in eight males used in the study. The longer you can space out your drink from your work out, the better.
- You won’t sleep well
In addition to hurting gut bacteria, consistent drinking every day increases your heart rate. This makes it harder to fully relax, and you may notice waking up frequently during the night. In fact, alcohol could be involved in 10% of persistent insomnia cases, according to Harvard Health. Although alcohol makes it harder for the rest of the body to slow down, it makes the throat muscles relax, closing the airway partly and causing some breathing-while-sleeping problems like sleep apnea and snoring.
- Your liver is working overtime
If you're consuming alcohol every day, your liver is filtering harmful buildup in the body. That work takes a toll, and of those who drink heavily, up to 15% will develop alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), according to Healthline. Many people with ARLD aren't aware of it at first, when fat starts to grow near the liver. Symptoms include nausea, fatigue, swelling in the legs and abdomen, and more.
- Your risk for heart attack and stroke go up
While you might not be aware of the increased fat in the body if you drink alcohol every day, it may be accumulating in the arteries around the heart, according to the American Heart Association. The fat responsible here is triglycerides, and combining a high number with high LDL cholesterol (bad) or low HDL cholesterol (good) numbers, and your risk of a heart attack and stroke increases.
- Your immune system is compromised
Drink alcohol every day and you may notice yourself getting sick more often. That's because alcohol reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, making you more likely to catch an infection. And yes, that does mean your chances of getting a virus are higher, too. If you're really itching for a glass of wine or cocktail (out of the house or in), remember, moderation is key. It’s also not a bad idea to give yourself a few days off to lessen the effects.