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What alcohol is not?

Many people try to justify their drinking by adding some kind of ideology to it. What is it really about?

Alcohol does not improve physical or mental performance
Psychometric tests performed with extremely sensitive devices show that even after consuming small doses of alcohol (1g / kg body weight) drivers' reactions are slower by 0.3-0.5 sec, while an appropriate reaction time in a fit-to-drive person is usually under 0.5 seconds.

Alcohol is not a heart medication
Studies have shown that the subjective improvement in well-being that occurs after consuming a "snifter of cognac" is not the result of the calming and anaesthetic effects of alcohol. Coronary vessels (the ones that nourish and bring oxygen to the heart) do not expand, so the blood supply to the heart muscle is still not sufficient. Instead of helping, alcohol causes a dangerous increase in blood pressure and degenerative changes in the heart muscle (due to the direct effects of alcohol, and especially the products of its breakdown on the muscle).

Alcohol is not a cure for sleeping problems 
Falling asleep after drinking alcohol is the result of a toxic effect alcohol has on the brain. After-alcohol sleep is unnatural (non-physiological), and does not result in proper rest.

Alcohol is not a cure for nervousness and problems
Temporary relaxation, experienced by some people after drinking alcohol, lets them escape life problems for a very short time. The problems remain unsolved; they build up and get more complicated. A person faces them again when sober with even more tension and anxiety. Drinking again may cause a "vicious circle", leading to addiction.

Alcohol does not improve immunity 
When it comes to people with elevated body temperature and inflammation, alcohol reduces their immunological defence by limiting the activity of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infection. The weakening of the immune system under the influence of alcohol increases the susceptibility not only to infections, but also to cancer.

Alcohol does not warm you up 
The "warming up" effect is only superficial. Drinking alcohol causes, for a short time, a feeling of warmth as a result of the warm blood flowing "from inside" the body into dilated blood vessels close to the skin. Expanded blood vessels accelerate heat exchange with the environment and thus heat loss. The cooled blood returns "inside" to internal organs, disrupting their functioning.

Alcohol is not food 
It provides the body with a certain number of calories (approx. 7 kcal per 1 gram), but they are so-called "empty calories". Alcohol cannot replace essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Therefore, it cannot be used by the body as an energy source.

Alcohol does not improve digestion
The truth is just the opposite, it hinders the absorption of food, irritates mucous membranes, disturbs the work of the intestines and causes malfunctioning of organs necessary for the proper digestion process (liver, pancreas).

Prepared by Bohdan Woronowicz, Ph.D.

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