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5 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Body

5 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Body

Alcohol.

To teens, its temporary effects are dangerously euphoric and mysteriously alluring. It’s illegal, which speaks to the deep-rooted rebellious emotions many teens experience. It’s also unfamiliar, which makes it both new and enticing. And it’s a great way to blow off steam from many of the stresses that teens feel in their lives. What teen doesn’t want to wind down and loosen up after a rough week of homework and tests?

However, excessive alcohol use by teens (or anyone for that matter) can have lingering and dangerous long-term effects on the body. Many of these are effects neither the teen nor the teen’s parents may have even considered.

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As if alcohol’s natural charm weren’t enough, plenty of teens are surrounded by poor examples, as well. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2013, over 70 percent of adults 18 years of age and older admitted to drinking within the past year, and 56.4 percent said they’d had a drink within the past month.

But why is excessive drinking—even in controlled environments—so dangerous? Here’s a hint: alcohol’s harmful effects do more than just damage relationships. They pose a threat to your physical health as well. Here are 5 surprising effects that alcohol has on the body.

1. It can lower your immune system

Alcohol use lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off disease. The damage can start almost instantly and in some cases can still be affecting your body days after your latest binge drinking session, even after the alcohol is no longer in your system. You’re at higher risk of contracting pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other potentially life-threatening conditions. It also puts alcohol users at risk of catching the common cold.

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2. You can suffer brain damage

A recent study headed by Dr. Mary-Louise Risher of Duke University uncovered that among damage to the brain, excessive alcohol use negatively affects the hippocampus, resulting in poorer learning and memory development in both adolescents and adults. They also found that it can further alter adolescent brain development and repair.

3. It can lead to high blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another common effect of excessive alcohol use. Hypertension is associated with countless health problems, including chronic kidney disease, kidney artery aneurysms, coronary artery disease, an increasing risk for a heart attacks and strokes, and more.

4. It can give you ulcers

Mixed with tobacco use, stress, and even excess use of OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, alcohol can play a role in the development of stomach ulcers and esophageal ulcers. The pain associated with these ulcers can upset your daily life, preventing you from fulfilling your daily duties in a timely fashion and causing even more stress.

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5. It can be responsible for multiple types of cancer

Ask any person on the street what type of cancer is most associated with alcohol and you’re bound to get the same response—liver cancer. But liver cancer is not the only cancer that can develop as a result of excessive drinking. Excessive drinking can also increase your risk of developing bowel cancer, mouth cancer, breast cancer, and more. If any of these already run in your family, you risk increasing your odds even further by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant, leading to impaired bodily functions, bad judgement and poor life choices if consumed in high quantities. Its effects on the body can result in an increased risk of medical problems, costly hospital stays and a regular regimen of medications. Excessive alcohol use does more to damage your body than to preserve it.

If you have experience on alcohol abuse and tips on how to deal with it, please leave them below.

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Featured photo credit: Credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Dan Gellman

Director of Marketing for High Focus Centers

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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