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Alcohol’s Effect On The Gastrointestinal Tract

on Tuesday, 01 July 2014. Posted in Breaking News

 Alcohol’s Effect On The Gastrointestinal Tract

It has been said that when consumed in moderation that there are some mild health benefits that can be taken away from consuming a glass of wine every now and again.

This certainly might be the case in some certain situations, but this kind of information can be taken incorrectly to make someone think that drinking any amount of alcohol can't be harmful for you at all, leading to possible risks.

Most people have heard at least one story of someone having too much to drink at a party and getting alcohol poisoning. There are the stories of someone being a chronic alcoholic and dying from complications of the liver, such as cirrhosis, or other issues as such.

Alcohol can have other effects on the body that are more short term and still damaging that some might not think of. One of these is that the effect of alcohol on the gastrointestinal tract can be a negative one, causing damage to the digestive system and leading to further issues down the road.

The GI Tract

First off, the gastrointestinal tract is basically the direct parts of your digestive system, from the throat down to the stomach, through both of the intestines and down to your colon.

One can also say that the salivary glands, the liver, the pancreas and the kidneys are also part of this system. For the intent or purely defining the GI tract, they are what is known as "accessory organs" and they help in the processes of the GI tract but are not directly a part of it.

The job of the GI tract is essentially to break down the food you eat and absorb the needed nutrients into your body, then collecting the rest of the unneeded material into waste and expelling it from the body.

Alcohol is not really broken down once it enters your system, but instead goes directly into the bloodstream from your stomach- this is why it does not take too long for someone to start feeling the effects of alcohol once it starts to be consumed.

Effects Of Alcohol On The GI Tract

Seeing as the GI tract includes the mouth and throat, we'll start there. The effects of long term usage of alcohol on this area are inflammation of the tongue and gums, as well as some of the salivary glands, which can interfere with saliva production.

The teeth also start to decay from alcohol usage due to the acidity of some kinds of alcohol. Over time, a lot of alcohol consumption can lead to certain types of oral cancers. Moving downward, alcohol profoundly affects the stomach once drinking starts. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can occur and the sphincter weakens and starts to relax.

This strangely causes an issue nearly on the opposite side of the GI tract: the contents of the stomach start to splash back upwards into the esophagus, which can cause intense and painful burning sensations. In some cases, the stomach lining can start to become inflamed, which is referred to as gastritis.

Interference With Natural Occurances Of The Body

Alcohol causes interference when it comes to the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. It also causes interference of the absorption of enzymes needed for metabolism and the transportation of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Lastly, alcohol causes a relaxation in the intestines, making it harder for waste to pass through, leading to constipation, or frequent diarrhea.

So, alcohol consumption, particularly in the case of alcoholism is not as harmless as one might think. Despite the fact mankind has been drinking alcohol for thousands of years, our bodies still have not completely adapted to its presence and complications still occur.


Photo Credit: jpalinsad360 via: Photopin

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