By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
You May Want To Rethink Your Daily “Happy Hour” At Home. Especially Now!
We are currently living in challenging times. As millions of Americans practice social distancing and hunker down in their homes as much as possible during this COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to “flatten the curve,” people are using a variety of ways to keep themselves preoccupied.
Due to stress and boredom, many people may be turning to unhealthy coping methods such as drinking too much alcohol.
According to multiple reports, liquor sales are up. To give you some perspective, one MarketWatch report says that Nielsen recently announced that online alcohol sales were up 243 percent!
Just as you may see larger than usual crowds at your local grocery stores, people are also hitting the liquor stores to stock up on booze. Like grocery stores, liquor stores are also considered to be essential businesses in many states in the midst of this pandemic.
“Essential businesses or workers include those concerned with healthcare, telecommunications, information technology, defense, food and agriculture, transportation, energy, water and waste water, law enforcement, and public works. All of these types of work contribute to the common good,” according to one report.
And liquor stores are classified as businesses related to the food and agriculture industry. After all, liquor stores also sell non-alcoholic beverages, food items and sometimes even over-the-counter medicines and household items. But we all know that when most people step foot into a liquor store, they are mainly there for the liquor!
Although a glass of wine with dinner or the occasional cocktail is not necessarily bad for most people, if you are someone who drinks heavily and regularly, you may want to consider changing this habit.
In a recent report, Dr. Majid Afshar, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist and assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, highly recommends drinking alcohol in moderation if you do drink.
Excess alcohol wreaks havoc on our immune system
There is evidence to suggest that avoiding excess liquor is especially important to maintain the health of our immune system.
"High levels or unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption are not helpful for our immune system and impairs our ability to fight off infections," said Dr. Afshar, who has extensively studied alcohol’s effect on the immune system and how it impacts breathing and lung health.
According to Dr. Afshar, “excessive alcohol use (at least four or five drinks over a few hours) can alter our cytokine response, or signaling proteins, which regulate the body's immune response.”
Furthermore, just one drunken episode “...exerted effects on the immune system that caused an early and transient pro-inflammatory state followed by an anti-inflammatory state."
And these inflammation fluctuations can affect the body’s hormone levels as well as the body’s ability to not only fight disease but also heal from it.
“Alcohol can also increase the number and severity of respiratory infections. The COVID-19 virus can lead to respiratory complications, especially in individuals with an alcohol use disorder,” according to the report.
In addition to promoting inflammation throughout the body, drinking too much alcohol may deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals that are critical for immune health, including zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, iron and more.if should we contract it. We want to avoid overwhelming the already incredibly stressed healthcare system if we can avoid it. It is important to reserve critical ventilators and hospital beds for the more vulnerable populations - those who are elderly and have underlying conditions.
So basically if you are a heavy drinker who is otherwise healthy, people are really counting on you to moderate. And if you fall into the vulnerable population group, drinking too much can further put you at risk for contracting COVID-19 and not being able to fight it off. If you are diabetic, obese, have heart disease or hypertension (for example), these conditions make you more vulnerable. And adding alcohol to the mix can make your situation a lot more risky should you get sick.
Just two drinks a day for women and three drinks a day for men is enough to disrupt the immune system.
It is also important to be mindful of how many ounces of beer, wine or spirits are considered to be one drink. Most of us overpour and overserve. So if you think you are having one glass of wine, you may really be having a glass and a half or two glasses.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, just five ounces is considered to be a proper pour of wine. It is also important to be aware of alcohol percentage. For example, a five ounce pour of wine is usually around 12 percent alcohol, and one and a half ounces (a shot) of distilled spirits (gin, rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc.) is about 40 percent alcohol.
It’s important to know how much you are drinking and what you are drinking. And to me, it’s just as important to know why you are drinking the amount you are drinking.
If you are someone who easily practices moderation, then I think you are fine. But if you are someone who gets drunk often, feels the need to drink everyday and practically finds it unbearable to not drink as we stay at home, it’s definitely time to address this and see if you have a drinking problem.
Read here to check out some resources that may help. Due to COVID-19, it may be difficult to get in-person help, however, there are plenty of therapists that offer teletherapy and there are also online meetings and forums you can join.
If you think you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional immediately.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.