Alcohol (also known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is an ingredient found in alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer and spirits. It is produced when yeasts ferment (breakdown without oxygen) sugars in different foods. Alcohol can act as a depressant at high doses, where its effects on the brain can result in slurred speech, unsteady movement and disturbed perceptions. Alternatively, at lower doses alcohol can act as a stimulant inducing feelings of euphoria, relaxation and talkativeness. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, where it is converted to a product that is more easily eliminated from the body. It takes an average adult around an hour to process one unit of alcohol so that there is none left in the bloodstream, however this varies for persons depending on gender, weight and age. Alcohol has a dependence-producing property, which means it can be addictive.
TYPES OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Most alcoholic beverages can be separated into three groups:
Fermenting a variety of starches such as malted barley, rice, wheat, or maize creates Beer. Their strengths can range from 2% to 12% ABV (alcohol by volume). Types of beer include:
Wine is made from the fermentation of grapes or other fruits. Their strengths range from 9% to 16% ABV. Types of wine include:
Spirits are alcoholic drinks that have been distilled to make them stronger. They are produced by distillation of grains, fruit, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. Their strengths range from 20% to 80% ABV. Types of spirits include:
Alcohol affects persons in different ways and this is determined by:
The harmful use of alcohol can also result in harm to persons including road traffic crashes, violence, and suicides.
1) According to the WHO, about 3.3 million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.9 % of all deaths.
2) Alcohol abuse is responsible for a significant number of deaths among young persons. In the age group 20 – 39 years approximately 25 % of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable.
3) Men account for more of these deaths than women. The percentage of alcohol-related deaths among men amount to 7.6 % of all global deaths compared to 4.0 % of all deaths among women
Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health risks involving:
1. Cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and hypertension.
2. Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.
3. Liver diseases, including fatty liver and cirrhosis.
4. Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
5. Dementia, stroke and neuropathy (damage to nerves).
6. Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, and esophagus.
7. Unintentional injuries, such as falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
8. Social problems, including unemployment, family troubles, and violence
CALCULATING YOUR ALCOHOL UNITS
You can work out how many units there are in any drink by multiplying the total volume of a drink (in ml) by its ABV (measured as a percentage) and dividing the result by 1,000.
TIPS TO AVOID A HANGOVER
Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits. Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol. Common signs of alcoholism include:
If you or anyone you know has an alcohol addiction, contact a health provider for information on how to receive treatment.
Hope you enjoyed these tips on ALCOHOL, Remember, YOUR HEALTH IS INVALUABLE.
By Dr. Lawarna Matthew