What happens to your body when you binge drink?July 2017
Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Sydney, Mona Vale
Do you binge drink? If I asked a handful of girls at a party if they think they binge drink, I think most would say yes. Binge drinking is pretty rampant among teens, if there is a party on the weekend I know you’re raiding the alcohol cupboard at home.
(*Note: If you’re a parent reading this and thinking; not my daughter, >>truth bomb<< you’re kidding yourself. According to the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, more than 20% of 14-19 year olds consume alcohol on a weekly basis. )
The NHMRC defines binge drinking as more than five (5) standard drinks in one session. Here’s the clincher – it’s standard drinks, not free pour at a party size drink. In my opinion, five is a lot. So whilst it is all fun talking about getting drunk AF with your friends, it also has some pretty big repercussions.
Confessions of a reformed party girl
I’m a reformed party girl. I am definitely not a saint, I have a name for the alter-ego that comes out when I binge drink, so I think I’m in a pretty good position to comment on drinking. I have had so many nights out with friends I can’t remember. At all. I also have memory problems in general, friends say “remember that time this happened”. Nope. I can’t. It’s embarrassing and sad, I wish I could remember these amazing times in my life. I’ve literally killed my brain cells. I have terrible GIT issues because I’ve trashed my body. The hangovers. Oh they were horrible. My dog new she just had to let me sleep it off and would leave me alone, occasionally waking me to make sure I was still alive.
For me, I chose to binge drink as a cover for my lack of confidence (check this post here about how I manage my self confidence). I wanted to be accepted by everyone, but what I really needed was to accept myself. So easy to say in hindsight, damn you hindsight!
So to give you a greater understanding of how alcohol impacts your body when you binge drink, I’ve summarised it below.
Your body when you binge drink
Alcohol is initially absorbed straight from the stomach, but your cells reach max filtration rate pretty quickly and the rest is absorbed by the small intestines. Alcohol causes inflammation in the small intestine. Have you ever had a bloated / sore / cramped lower abdomen whilst drinking? Now you know why. The small intestines ability to process nutrients and vitamins then becomes impaired, your bacterial flora is disturbed, your electrolyte balance is thrown. In all honesty, alcohol is pretty brutal for the body.
The impact on specific organs
Brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. FYI your teen years are a critical time for brain development and the brain is more sensitive to alcohol-induced damage during these times, while being less sensitive to cues that moderate alcohol intake. See above if this doesn’t sink in.
Liver: Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver (which is a key organ in your body’s detoxification system), and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations.
Pancreas: Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Immune System: Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
What should you do?
It’s your body. You live in it. You have to decide what is best for you. I can only offer my professional advice and personal experience in the hopes that maybe you think twice next time you go out. If a hangover isn’t enough to make you slow down, maybe the thought that some unflattering images could appear on social media is? I am so thankful I finished high school before social media. Social media can be a nasty beast.
Anywho, bit of a heavy post this week. I try to keep these blogs pretty light hearted but this is a serious topic, so I put my serious pants on. I promise the next one will be back to my usual hilarious self.
Until next time… x