How Does Alcohol Affect the Immune System?

How Does Alcohol Affect the Immune System?

The Facts
White blood cells are your body's internal defense system. There are five types of white blood cells. One type, in particular, the lymphocytes, fight and produce antibodies. They remove bad cells and help fight toxic chemicals and foreign substances. Unfortunately, when someone abuses alcohol, they hinder the production of white blood cells. Without healthy, active white blood cells, you run the risk of sickness and disease.

Common Misconceptions
Some people feel that a few drinks each night are no big deal; others feel that it's okay to binge drink a couple times a weak. The reality is that many people don't realize the damage they are doing to their bodies and immune system when drinking to get drunk. The body, particularly the liver and kidneys, has to work overtime to get the alcohol out of the system.

Consequences
Any time a person gets sick, one of the first things that doctors recommend is to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out toxins. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating -- which defeats the purpose as it pertains to hydrating the body. Without enough fluids to cleanse and hydrate your body, you can affect other vital organs, such as the liver and the kidneys. If these organs do not work properly, this can also weaken the immune system and exposes you to an array of other health problems.

Abusing alcohol offers no nutritional value, and constant drinking wears down your immune system so much that you risk getting sick about as much as a small child or elderly person. Your body doesn't have anything to help it fight. Once this happens, you are more likely to catch colds, or even develop disease like cancer. Also, alcohol ruins the lining of your stomach, as a result of too much stomach acid. This can bring on a host of other issues, such as heartburn, which can erode the esophagus.

Options
Drinking alcohol in moderation can be okay. Furthermore, some studies even show that there could be health benefits associated with alcohol consumption, particularly drinking red wine for improved heart health. However, in order to prevent damage to the immune system, the best bet is to reduce alcohol intake, stop drinking to get drunk and make sure to drink plenty of water. In addition, it's also good to exercise and eat properly for optimal overall health.