Those at risk from coronavirus should limit their alcohol intake to protect their immune systems, health experts have warned.
A study from the University of Maryland and Loyola University found that just a single episode of binge drinking significantly weakens the body’s immune system.
Another found that alcohol affects your body’s ability to fight disease, increasing the risk of illness and infections.
With much of the world practicing isolation on account of the coroanvirus pandemic, many are drinking more frequently than they ever have (Erin Holland pictured on Zoom)
And while all of the ‘Zoom drinks’ (pictured) and ‘quarantine wine’ might be helping to lift your spirits during the ongoing health crisis, it could be wreaking havoc with your overall health
One study from the University of Maryland and Loyola University found that just a single episode of binge drinking significantly weakens the body’s immune system
Psychology professors from Australia explained that while the coronavirus is ‘too new’ for us to know its exact interaction with alcohol, we do know that ‘drinking affects how your immune system works, making us more susceptible to virus infection’.
Speaking to The Conversation, professors Nicole Lee, Genevieve Dingle and Sonja Pohlman said: ‘If you have the coronavirus, or are at risk of contracting it, you should limit your alcohol intake to give your immune system the best chance of fighting it off’.
Nutritionist and food author Lee Holmes told FEMAIL that just one episode of binge drinking (or drinking more than four drinks in one sitting) can significant negative health effects.
We do know that ‘drinking affects how your immune system works, making us more susceptible to virus infection’.
Nutritionist Lee Holmes (pictured) said alcohol’s combined effects on both innate and adaptive immunity can significantly weaken host defences
‘Alcohol disrupts immune pathways and these disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury,’ Lee said
‘Alcohol’s combined effects on both innate and adaptive immunity can significantly weaken host defences,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Long-term effects of regular heavy drinking
Brain: Drinking too much can affect your concentration, judgement, mood and memory. It increases your risk of having a stroke and developing dementia.
Heart: Heavy drinking increases your blood pressure and can lead to heart damage and heart attacks.
Liver: Drinking 3 to 4 standard drinks a day increases your risk of developing liver cancer. Long-term heavy drinking also puts you at increased risk of liver cirrhosis (scarring) and death.
Stomach: Drinking even 1 to 2 standard drinks a day increases your risk of stomach and bowel cancer, as well as stomach ulcers.
Fertility: Regular heavy drinking reduces men’s testosterone levels, sperm count and fertility. For women, drinking too much can affect their periods.
Source: Health Direct
‘Alcohol disrupts immune pathways and these disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury.’
Lee added: ‘While people may think knocking back the red wines on a daily basis is a great way to get your antioxidant intake, the nutrient value of alcohol is nullified by its addictive, health (mental and physical) and social impacts.’
Alcohol principally has an effect on your health and immunity, but it can also impact both the quality of your sleep, your blood sugar levels and even your mood:
‘At its core, alcohol is a depressant, which means that when it reaches the brain, it slows down the body’s systems,’ Lee said.
‘Because alcohol is difficult for the body to process and is absorbed quickly, even in the short term it can place extra pressure on the liver, as the liver can only process about one drink per hour.’
You may notice you experience mood swings after a night of drinking.
Alcohol principally has an effect on your health and immunity, but it can also impact both the quality of your sleep, your blood sugar levels and even your mood
How does alcohol impact the immune system?
Excessive alcohol consumption can harm the body in various different ways
* Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways.
* First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients.
* Second, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.
* High doses of alcohol suppress the ability of the white blood cells to multiply, inhibit the action of killer white cells on cancer cells, and lessen the ability of macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factors.
* One drink (which is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of hard liquor) does not appear to bother the immune system, but three or more drinks do.
* Damage to the immune system increases in proportion to the quantity of alcohol consumed.
*Amounts of alcohol that are enough to cause intoxication are also enough to suppress immunity.
Source: Ask Dr Sears
The experts say that in order to manage your alcohol consumption during this time, you ought to avoid stocking up on alcohol – as the more you have in the home, the more you’ll drink
The experts say that in order to manage your alcohol consumption during this time, you ought to avoid stocking up on alcohol – as the more you have in the home, the more you’ll drink.
What are the Australian drinking guidelines?
The Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults should drink no more than 2 standard drinks on any day to cut the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.
They also recommend consuming a max of 4 standard drinks on a single occasion to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury.
A standard drink contains about 10 grams of alcohol – the amount your body can process in an hour.
The average glass of wine served in a pub contains 1.5 standard drinks.
New draft guidelines recommend healthy Australian women and men drink no more than ten standard drinks a week.
‘You should also try to stay within the draft Australian guidelines of no more than four in any one day and no more than ten a week,’ The Conversation reported.
Lee recommended making sure you’re having at the very least three alcohol-free nights per week.
‘Even if you just have one glass of wine, drinking alcohol can dehydrate you and bloat you,’ Lee said.
‘If you drink, drink moderately and always back up an alcoholic drink with a big glass of water.’
If you feel as though you are drinking because you are stressed, try to remind yourself that this is a temporary situation that will pass – and you can do something else that you enjoy, whether that’s exercise, more sleep, reading or watching something.
‘You could also think about what you’re drinking,’ Lee said.
‘Drinks such as vodka, gin and tequila are better than heavy cocktails or white wine, which contain salt and sugar, two ingredients that can lead to bloating and inflammation.
‘Beer can also be a good option, as it has less alcohol than spirits and people tend to take longer to consume it.
‘This means less dehydration, which equates to less static and fuzzy heads the next day.’
What is a step-by-step process of what happens to your body when you drink?
Lee (pictured) revealed what exactly happens to your body when you drink
* Lee Holmes said when you drink alcohol, it enters the bloodstream through your stomach (20 per cent) and small intestine (80 per cent).
* If there is food in your stomach, then the alcohol will be absorbed slower and it will stay in your digestive system longer.
* It then goes to the small intestine, where 75-85 per cent of it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
* It will then move rapidly to other areas of the body, including the brain and will generally peak in the bloody between 30 and 90 minutes later as it is a depressant.
* Effects of alcohol can be felt within five to ten minutes of drinking, and it can slow reaction times, affect your co-ordination, vision and decision-making ability.
* As it progresses, your blood vessels dilate and in the liver, 90 per cent of the alcohol is filtered through the blood and broken down with the help of enzymes.
* The liver breaks down approximately one standard drink per hour, so the rest of the alcohol will be reaching other parts of the body.
* A small amount of it leaves the body via the skin, breath and urine.
* Alcohol makes the kidneys work harder to filter blood and balance fluid. When you feel drunk, this is because the alcohol is drunk faster than the liver is able to break it down.
Source: Lee Holmes