Physical Effects of Habitual Alcohol Consumption

A few drinks here and there are often the hallmarks of a good night. But drinking several times a week or every day can mean something completely different.

If you’re a woman who has more than seven drinks a week or a man who has more than 14, you may be drinking too much. Habitual alcohol consumption can be tough on the wallet and heavy on calories, but it also has horrific consequences for your physical wellbeing.

Today, we’ll explore these effects and explain why quitting drinking is such an important goal.

Short-Term Effects
The short-term effects of habitual drinking are often the easiest to see. These are the hallmarks of being drunk, and Alcohol.org (a fantastic resource for anyone looking to reduce or eliminate drinking) explains that they include:

  • Lowered inhibitions, leading to poor social judgment.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Loss of critical judgment.
  • Dulled perception, especially vision.
  • Mood swings.
  • Reduced core body temperature.
  • Raised blood pressure.
  • Passing out.

These are behaviours that most of us are familiar with from personal experience. Some of these effects – like lowered inhibitions or dulled perception – maybe what we’re chasing when we open another beer or sip another cocktail. But while these side-effects disappear when we sober up, the long-term effects of alcohol use remain long after.

Long-Term Effects: Long term alcohol use can have intense and debilitating consequences for our physical wellbeing. The National Institute for Health (NIH) explains the effects of chronic drinking on our bodies:

Brain Damage: “People who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. Damage may be a result of the direct effects of alcohol on the brain or may result indirectly, from a poor general health status or from severe liver disease.”

Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome: These diseases develop due to low Thiamine levels (it’s estimated that approximately 80% of alcoholics are deficient in this vitamin). Wernicke’s involves mental confusion, paralysis of eye muscles, and poor muscle coordination.  The more severe Korsakoff syndrome – developed by up to 90% of people with Wernicke’s – is even more devastating, described as “a chronic and debilitating syndrome characterized by persistent learning and memory problems. Patients with Korsakoff’s psychosis are forgetful and quickly frustrated and have difficulty with walking and coordination”.

Liver Damage: While alcohol’s effects on the liver are widely known, the NIH reminds us how the liver affects our other organs, “People may not be aware that prolonged liver dysfunction, such as liver cirrhosis resulting from excessive alcohol consumption, can harm the brain, leading to a serious and potentially fatal brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy”.

This condition causes changes in mood and personality and can cause anxiety, depression, problems with coordination and even coma.

The Government of Canada warns that long-term alcohol consumption can also cause:

  • depression
  • increased risk of suicide
  • increased risk of high blood pressure
  • increased risk of stroke
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • stomach ulcers
  • blood vessel disorders
  • impotency in men
  • menstrual irregularities in women
  • some types of cancer
  • addiction
  • death

[Adapted from Health Canada]

The long-term effects of habitual alcohol consumption are far-ranging and potentially fatal. It’s a terrible price to pay for continuing your drinking habit. Your body deserves better, your mind deserves better, and most importantly, you deserve better. Committing to the habit of quitting drinking means you can begin to heal the damage done to your body by alcohol and rebuild trust in yourself.

We know you can do this. Good luck!

How Cigarette Consumption Effects on Your Physical

Powerful anti-smoking campaigns across the globe have made most of us well-versed in the dangers of cigarettes and secondhand smoke. We know about the blackened lungs, withered hearts, and cancer risks. We have seen the pictures of yellowed teeth and nails, and low-birth-weight babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Today, we’ll explore these health risks in-depth, as well as a few lesser-known physical side-effects of smoking. As you read today’s article, please remember that the goal of diving into this issue isn’t to shame you or weigh you down with guilt, but to educate you about the effect of your choices.

Smoking is an addiction, it’s true. But every time you raise a cigarette to your lips, you are making a choice. You’re choosing an immediate desire over a long-term benefit. You’re choosing a craving over your health. And oftentimes, you’re choosing to break a promise to yourself while you do it.

We believe you are worth more than black lungs and yellow nails. You’re worth feeling healthy, strong, and vibrant. You deserve to live a full, healthy, happy life. And today, we’ll show you how to get there.

What Does Smoking do to Your Body?
The NHS breaks down what cigarettes do to different parts of your body. You’re probably familiar with how smoking affects your brain, lungs, and circulatory system…

  • Brain: Yes, smoking affects your brain! Smokers increase their risk of a stroke by 50% and double their risk of dying from a stroke.
  • Circulatory system: When you smoke, poisons from tar in cigarettes make their way into your bloodstream, making your blood thicker and increasing the chances of blood clots, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, and causing your arteries to narrow and provide less oxygen-rich blood to your vital organs.
  • Lungs: Of course, cigarette smoke has a devastating effect on your lungs. Smoking is responsible for “84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” Smoking can leave you breathless, coughing, and prone to pneumonia and emphysema, as well as cancer.

[Adapted from the NHS]

…But did you know that smoking also affects your skin, stomach, bones, mouth, and fertility?

  • Skin: The NHS explains “smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years and makes it three times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt”.
  • Stomach: Smoking increases acid reflux and makes it more likely that you’ll get stomach cancer or ulcers.
  • Mouth and throat: 93% of throat cancers are caused by smoking, and cigarette smoke can also yellow your teeth, reduce taste buds, and cause gum disease.
  • Fertility: If you’re a man, smoking may make you impotent – smoking damages the blood vessels that direct blood to the penis, making it more challenging to obtain an erection. Men’s sperm count is also lower for smokers than non-smokers. Women’s fertility is also affected – women who smoke have fertility rates 28% lower than non-smokers.

[Adapted from the NHS]

Smoking causes devastating physical effects, increase cancer risks, and torpedoes the functioning of your major vital organs. These physical effects are an incredibly high price to pay for continuing to smoke. As you read through the list above, does it seem a worthwhile trade-off? Your health for a cigarette? Your lung function for that first inhale? Your appearance for that heady rush of nicotine?

You can quit smoking if you want to. Devote the time to understanding the risks of this habit and the nature of addiction and commit yourself to stopping good. Your health is worth it. YOU are worth it.

Good luck!

Physical Effects of Cigarette Consumption

Powerful anti-smoking campaigns across the globe have made most of us well-versed in the dangers of cigarettes and secondhand smoke. We know about the blackened lungs, withered hearts, and cancer risks. We have seen the pictures of yellowed teeth and nails, and low-birth-weight babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Today, we’ll explore these health risks in-depth, as well as a few lesser-known physical side-effects of smoking. As you read today’s article, please remember that the goal of diving into this issue isn’t to shame you or weigh you down with guilt, but to educate you about the effect of your choices.

Smoking is an addiction, it’s true. But every time you raise a cigarette to your lips, you are making a choice. You’re choosing an immediate desire over a long-term benefit. You’re choosing a craving over your health. And oftentimes, you’re choosing to break a promise to yourself while you do it.

We believe you are worth more than black lungs and yellow nails. You’re worth feeling healthy, strong, and vibrant. You deserve to live a full, healthy, happy life. And today, we’ll show you how to get there.

What Does Smoking do to Your Body?

The NHS breaks down what cigarettes do to different parts of your body. You’re probably familiar with how smoking affects your brain, lungs, and circulatory system…

  • Brain: Yes, smoking affects your brain! Smokers increase their risk of a stroke by 50% and double their risk of dying from a stroke.
  • Circulatory system: When you smoke, poisons from tar in cigarettes make their way into your bloodstream, making your blood thicker and increasing the chances of blood clots, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, and causing your arteries to narrow and provide less oxygen-rich blood to your vital organs.
  • Lungs: Of course, cigarette smoke has a devastating effect on your lungs. Smoking is responsible for “84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” Smoking can leave you breathless, coughing, and prone to pneumonia and emphysema, as well as cancer.

[Adapted from the NHS]

…But did you know that smoking also affects your skin, stomach, bones, mouth, and fertility?

  • Skin: The NHS explains “smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years and makes it three times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt”.
  • Stomach: Smoking increases acid reflux and makes it more likely that you’ll get stomach cancer or ulcers.
  • Mouth and throat: 93% of throat cancers are caused by smoking, and cigarette smoke can also yellow your teeth, reduce taste buds, and cause gum disease.
  • Fertility: If you’re a man, smoking may make you impotent – smoking damages the blood vessels that direct blood to the penis, making it more challenging to obtain an erection. Men’s sperm count is also lower for smokers than non-smokers. Women’s fertility is also affected – women who smoke have fertility rates 28% lower than non-smokers.

[Adapted from the NHS]

Smoking causes devastating physical effects, increase cancer risks, and torpedoes the functioning of your major vital organs. These physical effects are an incredibly high price to pay for continuing to smoke. As you read through the list above, does it seem a worthwhile trade-off? Your health for a cigarette? Your lung function for that first inhale? Your appearance for that heady rush of nicotine?

Every cigarette you resist adds a bit of health back into your body. Reducing your smoking habit by 1 cigarette per day, every single week is a slow, sustainable way to curb (and maybe even eventually quit) your addiction. Your health is worth it. You are worth it. Good luck!

What Is Vitamin C?

We often think about vitamin C when we’re starting to get sick. As soon as we feel that telltale tickle in our throats or the first hints of a runny nose, we start eating oranges and drinking hot water with lemon to consume the most vitamin C possible.

We’ll leave debates about the effectiveness of this strategy for another time – today we want to ask, what about when you’re not sick? Do you ever think about the importance of maintaining adequate levels of vitamin C for your physical and mental wellbeing? We often overlook the importance of vitamin C, but this cheerful vitamin is good for a whole lot more than boosting our immune system.

What Is Vitamin C?

The National Institute for Health (NIH) explains the role of vitamin C in the body:

“Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.”

How Much Do I Need?

Most healthcare professionals recommend 90mg of vitamin C daily for men, and 75 mg for women (pregnant women should take 85mg, and breastfeeding women 120mg).

If you’re a smoker, you want to add about 35 mg to these totals, to help counteract some of the damage smoking does to your cells. 

Vitamin C Deficiency

Severe vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed nations but consuming 10mg or less of vitamin C each day can eventually result in scurvy if not remedied. Scurvy can be fatal if left untreated and causes mouth sores, bleeding gums, tooth loss, depression, and anemia among other symptoms.

If you do get enough vitamin C, however, it can have huge benefits for your health and wellbeing.

Healthline explains some of the benefits of adequate vitamin C levels:

  • The antioxidant properties of vitamin C may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, especially those associated with inflammation.
  • May help fight high blood pressure
  • Reduces heart disease factors, which may reduce the risk of heart disease
  • May help prevent gout
  • Helps increase iron absorption and prevent iron deficiency
  • Protects memory and brain function
  • And, of course, boosts your immunity

[Adapted from Healthline]

It’s important to get your recommended daily amounts of vitamin C all year round – not just during cold and flu season!  Bump up your portions of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and commit to supporting your physical wellbeing. You’re worth it!

What Is Lifelong Learning

The act of learning isn’t something that needs to end after you finish your formal education – it can serve as an important part of your life long after you’ve graduated, begun your career, and left the world of final exams and thesis papers behind. Learning new things enriches your life, keeps your brain active, and exposes you to new ideas, too.

Many of us, however, especially those subjected to intense or demanding academic programs, don’t quite understand what learning is in the absence of tests or assigned reading. The pressure of many academic programs has also left many of us with bad tastes in our mouths – we associate the act of learning with stress, so when we’re done school, we’re often done with learning, too.

Leisure time is important, it’s essential for the brain and the body to relax. But learning is equally important. Today we’ll discuss why lifelong learning is so crucial to your mental wellbeing, and how to bring it into your life.

Lifelong Learning

 Lifelong learning is exactly what it sounds like – seeking out and participating in the act of learning during your entire life.

The Commission of the European Communities further explains that lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for personal or professional reasons…it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability”.

At its core, lifelong learning comes down to being interested and interesting. It means retaining your sense of curiosity about how the world works, stoking your sense of adventurousness enough to try something new, and investing in yourself as a person – to the benefit of your mind, body, relationships, and career.

What Qualifies as Lifelong Learning?

This is the best part! Literally anything that involves challenging your brain, acquiring new skills, or improving yourself can count as lifelong learning. It can be taking on a new sport, reading a new genre of books, picking up a new hobby or even trying a musical instrument. It can be studying a new language, taking a pottery class, getting certified as a lifeguard or earning a new certification in your field.

When you’re challenging yourself, you’re learning.

A word of caution, however. Learning doesn’t have to be productive. The two don’t always go hand in hand. There may never be a practical use for the Spanish you pick up in your weekly class, you may never want to sell the paintings you work on. There doesn’t have to be a “payoff”, figuratively or literally, to the things you learn. Give yourself permission to follow your interests, regardless of whether or not they are ”useful”.

So read the book. Watch the documentary. Go bird watching. Stretch the limits of your too-comfortable life and strive to learn at least one new thing every day. You’ll be so glad you did!

Why Is Stretching Important?

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? (After hitting the snooze button, we mean.) If you’re like most people, you open your eyes, register your surroundings, and then lengthen your body into a long stretch. You reach your arms overhead, point your toes, briefly squeeze the muscles of your legs, back, and arms, and then release. Sometimes you might do a few spinal twists or even touch your toes before finally getting up for the day.

This isn’t usually a conscious behaviour – it’s instinctual. Animals do it, too, we’ve all seen our dogs and cats doing a big stretch after waking up or playing. We do this because stretching is essential to maintaining a healthy body, especially after you’ve exercised.

Today we’re going to explore why stretching is so important, and how it works to benefit your body.

Why Is Stretching Important?

Harvard Health explains how stretching works on our muscles, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”

Many of our daily activities cause muscle tightness without our even realizing it. We sit all day long which shortens our hamstrings, our posture while looking at screens or phones is often less than ideal, and even the way we sleep can sometimes put our muscles under strain. Stretching regularly can counteract these effects, allowing muscles to lengthen and realign.

Why is Stretching Important After Exercise?

Stretching is even more important after a workout. Any sort of exercise can work to tax your muscles beyond what you’d do in a typical day. You lift heavier weights, run long distances, and perform dynamic movements, all of which put tension on your muscles. Even playing team sports or doing an activity like rock climbing puts stress on your muscles. Stretching after a workout allows you to release this tension, increase blood flow, and reduce the risk of injury or soreness.

Science for Sport explains that research demonstrates the effectiveness of stretching on soreness and flexibility, “static stretching can improve flexibility by altering the mechanical factors associated with tissue stiffness (passive fascicle length and angle). Static stretching, therefore, appears to improve flexibility”.

When Should You Stretch?

Many people believe that you should stretch both before and after a workout. Unfortunately, as UC Davis explains, stretching cold muscles can often lead to muscle tears or injury. Stretching is always best performed on warm muscles, so you can get the benefits of a full range of motion and flexibility.

Committing to the habit of stretching for 10 minutes after a workout means you’ll be supporting your body as it works to replenish and repair itself after vigorous activity. Put in the time now and you’ll avoid tons of lost time due to soreness or injury later. Happy stretching!