Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation? 4 Things You May Not Know

Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation? 4 Things You May Not Know

pouring an alcoholic drink into a glass

Alcohol may spice up your life, but did you know excess consumption can cause inflammation in your body? WILDFIT founder explains why.

The warm buzz that feels like a big warm hug, the sense of euphoria about life, and feeling confident enough to belt out Mariah Carey on the karaoke stage… We all know that alcohol can inflame various feelings and sensations. But does alcohol cause inflammation?

While hangover symptoms are pretty evident the following day, the consequences of alcohol have a much more significant and long-lasting effect on your body than you think.

Here’s what you should know about its impact of it (before you drink):

The impact of alcohol begins when you take your first sip, even if you don’t reach the hangover stage. Let’s shed some light on the topic.

woman holding an alcoholic beverage

What Is Inflammation? 

To understand the effects of alcohol on your body, you must first understand what inflammation is. 

Inflammation is your immune system’s response to injury and infection.

Think about the last time you got hurt — perhaps accidentally cutting yourself from shaving? The wound swelled up, turned red, and felt warm. 

I’m very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.

— Jim Carrey, actor 

That’s because your immune system sends blood, fluid, and protein to the damaged or infected area to protect and repair it. It’s a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. Once you’re healed, the inflammation vanishes along with the infection. 

But sometimes, inflammation can become chronic.

When you have chronic inflammation, your body is in a constant state of high alert. This stress eventually leads arteries and organs to break down, severely impacting your overall health.

So the big question is, does drinking alcohol cause inflammation?  

man pouring beer into a glass

Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?  

The short answer is, yes. 

Studies have shown that drinking alcohol (even just a few sips) causes inflammation throughout the whole body. 

Over time, this can turn into chronic inflammation. Alcohol alters the lining of the intestines and colon, so they become less effective at containing bacteria (both good and bad). This bacteria can seep into the bloodstream and travel to the rest of the body. 

Although not all of these bacteria are harmful, your immune system will still perceive them as a threat, thus inducing inflammation on a daily basis. 

But what’s more surprising is the four things you may not know about how alcohol causes inflammation in your body:  

#1: It causes brain damage 

It’s no secret that alcohol alters the brain, based on how it makes people feel. But recent research reports that certain lipids in the brain that cause inflammation are linked to long-term alcohol exposure. These lipids, mind you, make up more than half the brain’s weight! 

Over time, alcohol can destroy brain cells, contract brain tissue, and even decrease the effectiveness of neurotransmitters in the brain. 

One form of alcohol-related brain damage is Korsakoff syndrome, which is a type of dementia. This condition causes problems in learning new information, inability to remember recent events, and long-term memory gaps.

#2: It makes you bloat 

Have you ever noticed how bloated and puffy your body feels after a night out of drinking? According to studies, alcohol causes inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract. 

Alcohol significantly increases the transfer of microflora-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from the gut. In healthy people, the liver has no problem detoxifying LPS. But alcohol damages the liver, impairing the body’s ability to regulate inflammation. 

This inflammation is exacerbated by drinks that are often mixed with alcohol, such as carbonated or sugary drinks, which in itself is the king of inflammation. So you might want to reconsider that Rum and Coke or Mimosa. The two combined together are double trouble for inflammation. 

#3: It shows on your face 

No matter how diligent your skincare regimen is or how much water you chug, the effects of alcohol will always show on your skin

Alcohol inflames bodily tissue which creates a histamine reaction that dilates the blood capillaries. This is why people who drink feel warm in the face or might develop a red flush on their face. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but over time, it becomes a prominent redness that will never go away. 

Drinking also dilates the pores of your skin, leading to blackheads and whiteheads. If it’s not treated properly, this can turn into inflamed skin papules and cystic acne that can cause permanent scarring. 

Learn more Does Dairy Cause Inflammation? WILDFIT Founder Weighs In

#4: It hurts your joints

It’s normal to feel under the weather after a night of drinking. But for some people, this discomfort extends beyond the hangover to their knees, back and hips. So how does alcohol cause joint inflammation? 

If you already suffer from a pre-existing condition that causes joint pain like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and osteoarthritis, alcohol can aggravate your symptoms

That’s because alcohol dehydrates your body, decreases your bone density, weakens your immune system, and increases inflammation. All of these things, combined with a pre-existing inflammatory condition, trigger serious joint inflammation and flare-ups. 

It’s also believed that gluten in grain-based alcohol like beer and vodka, and drinks rich in purine such as distilled liquor and wine, are more likely to trigger inflammation attacks. 

person holding an alcoholic beverage at the rim

Should You Still Drink? 

Now that you know what alcohol does to the body, should you ditch drinking altogether or cut back? According to WILDFIT founder Eric Edmeades, giving up alcohol completely is the best way forward.

But if you’re not ready to do that, give your body a break by limiting your alcohol intake to one day of the week. That way, your body has time to recuperate in between. It’s a concept that works similarly to intermittent fasting. 

Everything in moderation’ includes health, longevity, and quality of life.

— Eric Edmeades, founder of Mindvalley’s WILDFIT Quest

Non-alcoholic cocktails can be just as flavourful and fun to celebrate a special occasion or to unwind at the end of a long day. 

And if you need guidance to transform your health, head over to Mindvalley where Eric can help you find your inner strength. Great change starts here.

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Written by
Eric Edmeades - Quest Trainer
Sabrina Loh