Reviewed by: Erica An, APD, BNutr&Diet
We get it. You don’t drink often, but when an occasion pops up (hello birthday!) you give yourself permission to let loose.
But despite the fun and silliness you enjoy at the time, have you ever really wondered what goes on internally. Just how much stress do you put your body under when you binge drink?
The first drink
- Your brain is the first organ to be noticeably affected – notice your voice growing louder and a reduced attention span? Tick
The next three or four
- The average person’s liver can only break down one standard drink per hour so at this point your body’s working overtime to try keep up (unsuccessfully of course!)
- Your blood sugar levels will also be rising. The body struggles to process all the excess sweet stuff you’re sipping on
It’s passed your bedtime
- This is the point you most definitely should call it a night, but you’re having WAY too much fun. All logical thinking went out the window 3 drinks ago, right!? That’s because you’re well on the road to drunkenness, meaning your risk assessment and brain function are low, whilst your balance and self awareness are both also greatly depleted
- Your blood pressure is also high due to an inhibition of the nervous system, resultantly putting extra strain on your heart and blood vessels
- The bar is getting ready to close so of course it makes sense to order just one more drink, right?! At this point your body is slurring speech, feeling acute sleepiness, decreased motor function and has the potential of alcohol poisoning – confused, vomiting or breathing very slowly?
- Alcohol inhibits the gag reflex which causes the potential of vomit or saliva to enter your lungs. So, there’s possibility that an infection is developing
- It also triggers the brain’s hunger function – late night pizza or kebab craving perhaps? Aside from the excessive calories in alcohol contributing to weight gain, a tonne of greasy food won’t help this!
The dreaded morning after
- Of course you’re tired! Because regardless of how many hours of shut eye you’ve had, your quality of sleep was incredibly poor due to extended, unrestful REM sleep
- Wondering what causes that throbbing headache of yours? When you’re hungover, you’re significantly dehydrated. Meaning your body is looking to pull water from anywhere it can! Your brain always takes the biggest hit, so as moisture is pulled, your brain shrinks as it pulls the surrounding membrane, causing your cracking headache
- It’s almost certain that you’re feeling really flat and perhaps quite depressed, yes? Alcohol is a HUGE trigger for lowered mental health and binge drinking regularly heightens your risk of depression, anxiety and psychosis significantly.
Longer term effects
- The detrimental health impacts of binge drinking are endless (from heart and liver disease, the cancers, immune system issues, stroke and dementia – just to name a few!)
- Your skin is also at the mercy of all the drinks you consume. You can thank the sugar content in most drinks plus its dehydrating factor for your new pimples and dull complexion.
Bottom line: enjoy your couple of glasses of wine and savour. every. sip! There’s just as much enjoyment from having only 1 or 2 with your amazing friends and family and trust us when we say your body will absolutely LOVE you for it.