The Truth About Alcohol and Your Brain

It is likely that at some point in their lives most human beings will consume an alcoholic beverage. Some people may even drink to forget”, whilst others may be totally dependant on a glass of wine with dinner. Whatever the choice, alcohol is part of the western world in many ways. So what do we really know about the effect of alcohol on the human body?

How much does it take?

The topic of “how much is too much” is often a debatable and subjective one. Most people won’t admit when they’ve had “too much”, but how much does it take for the average person to become “intoxicated”? Click here to find out if you’re drinking too much.

General regulations

Some general regulations say that the average woman is able to consume 1 standard drink in one hour, without being over the limit to drive. Whereas, the average man will likely be unable to drive after consuming more than 2 drinks in an hour.

These regulations may be fine in theory, but in practise many things affect how intoxicated a person becomes after drinking alcohol. Some of the factors include:

  •      Body weight
  •      Age
  •      Gender
  •      Consumption of food
  •      Genetic background
  •      Overall health
  •      Frequency the person consumes alcohol (daily, etc.)
  •      Long term exposure to alcohol

Whatever the reason is for consuming alcohol, the effect it has on the human body is quite interesting. It is well known that alcohol produces physical effects such as: dizziness, slurred speech, inability to walk straight or see clearly. But, what happens on the inside that causes these inebriated functions? It all starts with our body’s central powerhouse – the brain.

Our brains on alcohol

As the powerhouse of the Central Nervous System, our brain controls our motor skills, our senses, and ensures that we function as members of society. Our brains are filled with 100’s of millions of neurons (brain cells) that communicate with each other by firing synapses via neurotransmitters at several hundred miles per hour. Click here for more information on Neuron Conversations: How Brain Cells Communicate.

As a depressant, alcohol slows down the function of our central nervous system and in turn, neurotransmission potential. So, alcohol actually reaches all the way into our brain cells. This is one reason why people say they “lose brain cells” from consuming alcohol. Memory loss is often associated with binge drinking and can even be long term for those that abuse alcohol throughout their lifetime. Read more about the negative effects of alcohol here.

Are brain cells lost forever?

Research now shows that brain cells can be regenerated. Scientists have demonstrated successful regeneration of neurons from structural cell replacement in mice. This finding may mean that people suffering from severe brain damage could potentially regain improved cognitive function.

For more information on adult neurogenesis click here.

Although there are some major progresses in cognitive research happening, brain surgery is a bit extreme for the average person that damages their brain cells by consuming alcohol. So why not minimize the consumption and enhance the cells you already have?


 

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For more information on binge drinking check out -Drinking for science - Is binge drinking really that bad?.