Make a choice: alcohol or your liver

Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves? Have you ever felt the urge to cut down on your drinking? Have you ever been annoyed with people because they criticize your drinking? Most people do not see themselves as suffering from alcohol addiction but deny it as we may, it is a major health and social problem in the society. Alcoholism is a condition whereby an individual drinks too much alcohol regularly. It aggravates or causes a lot of health challenges faced by people in their middle age especially men. High male mortality and complicated health issues such as kidney failure, diabetes, cardiac diseases are traceable to a large extent to alcoholism.

Many accidents on the roads can also be attributed to alcohol abuse. One can only imagine the number of lives lost over time because someone refused to take control of what he takes into his body. The alcohol addict is not only a mobile death merchant; he is also on a suicide mission because the final result of alcoholism is untimely death.

Alcohol consumption affects all the major organs in the body the main organ affected being the liver. The liver is one of the most vital organs of the body and performs a variety of functions. Its function includes break down of toxins (toxins are those poisonous stuff you take into your body knowingly or unknowingly), protein synthesis, glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, hormone production (chemicals that help your body to function), production of bile etc. It is responsible for up to 500 functions usually in combination with other systems or organs. No artificial organ is capable of emulating all the functions of the liver. Liver dialysis can only do some of these functions. We can see why we need to take care of our liver.

When you load yourself with alcohol, about 20% are absorbed directly across the stomach walls and can reach the brain in 1 minute. The action is faster if you drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol is metabolized extremely quickly unlike food. However, it produces an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase which breaks down part of the remaining alcohol in the stomach thus helping to reduce the amount of alcohol in the blood. Women however produce less of this enzyme which explains why they are easily intoxicated. Normally liver cells prefer to break down fatty acids but when there is high alcohol content the liver is forced to metabolize the alcohol letting the fatty acids accumulate in huge amounts thereby changing permanently the structure of the liver cells and resulting in a condition known as fatty liver.

Fatty liver is the first stage of liver deterioration and it affects the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to get liver i.e. if you continue to drink heavily the liver cells begin to die off forming fibrous scar tissues. The condition is called liver fibrosis. The situation can be prevented from degenerating further at this stage if you stop drinking and make effort to eat food reach in nutrients. This is because the liver possesses the ability to regenerate itself and can do so at this stage so you can save your own life at this point.

However if you decide to continue with your excessive drinking the last stage sets in leading to liver cirrhosis. The damage to the liver at this stage is irreversible and ultimately leads to death. Excessive alcohol consumption causes damage to the liver, digestive system and nearly every organ of the body

It increases your risk to cancer of the pancreas, liver, breast, mouth, rectum etc. It leads to heart disease by raising your blood pressure and level of fat in the blood. It increases the risk of stroke, nervous breakdown, obesity, psychological disorders, diabetic complications, kidney diseases, arthritis and alcoholic hepatitis.

Folks moderate use of alcohol is recommended but people have different definitions of the term. Some people claim they don’t take too much, they take just 5 bottles of beer a day. Studies have shown that a safe alcohol intake should not be more than 2 drinks per day a drink being approximately 34cl for beer, 14cl for wine and  2.8cl for distilled alcohol like gin, ogogoro.

If you choose to continue to drink here are some tips. (1) Sip your drink slowly (2) Always consume your alcohol with food, NEVER drink on an empty stomach. (3) Space your drink out to no more than one  drink per hour adhering to the right definition of a drink. (4) Drink plenty of water in between drinks.

Alcoholism is a disease but in this part of the world we don’t see it as such. In the US, studies have shown that over 14 million people are affected by the disease and over 88,000 deaths are attributable to excessive alcohol use each year.  If you are dependent on alcohol seek help before it is too late. Your denying the fact will not stop alcohol from cutting your life short. Seek medical help and pray for deliverance from this bondage. Yes pray because we shouldn’t rule out spiritual factor because some addictions are not ordinary.

It is time to sit back and carefully reflect on how much you’ve lost to alcohol abuse. Calculate how much you spent on buying drinks and how much you spent on alcohol induced problems like car repairs,  injuries, bone fractures, STDs etc. Think of what you’ve lost and still losing – money, respect, peace of mind and ultimately your life. Stop over taxing  your liver! Make an effort to save your life and that of someone else. What’s it going to be? Make the right choice today.

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