Incorporating an alcoholic drink into your diet can actually provide a host of health benefits. These benefits disappear rapidly as one drink turns into several though, even one night of binge drinking can have serious consequences. Binge drinking immediately affects the immune system and the effects can last for days.
How Alcohol Affects the Immune System
Findings published in the Alcohol journal examine the effects of drinking alcohol on the immune system. Researchers collected blood from participants after 20 minutes, 2 hours and 5 hours after ingesting a high-dose of alcohol.
In order to achieve a “high-dose” of alcohol, participants downed 5 shots of vodka in 20 minutes.
Immediately after drinking alcohol, participants showed a major increase in pro-inflammatory blood markers. After 2 and 5 hours, participants showed an anti-inflammatory state, with reduced numbers of monocytes and natural killer cells.
These findings show just how quickly alcohol affects the body, not only altering the user’s state of mind, but influencing immune function as well.
Before you go out and down a few shots of vodka to help bolster your immune system, let’s look at what researchers found.
Alcohol consumption immediately induced a pro-inflammatory response from the body. The surge of alcohol sends the body into panic mode and it is quickly flooded by anti-inflammatory agents to help combat the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. This is followed by a depressed immune function, leaving participants with a more sluggish immune system than when they were sober.
Moderation Is Key
There is plenty of evidence that enjoying a glass of wine, a beer or a shot of alcohol each day can have a positive effect on overall health. These benefits don’t translate to binge drinking though, 5 shots in 20 minutes for example has a very negative effect on immune function, liver health and overall well-being.
As with most things, moderation is key.
If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are many services available to help. Alcoholics Anonymous has operations around the world working to help people to stop drinking. Just search for AA meetings in your city, for example, AA meetings London.