Tag Archives: Dr. C Opinions

Doctor’s Journal: ‘Alcohol And Health’

Alcohol has been used by mankind since before recorded history. It causes a pleasant slowdown of the nervous system, Lessening inhibition  and loosening the tongue, making it the perfect lubricant for social interaction. Unfortunately, it is a metabolic poison.

Excess alcohol use is common enough to have resulted in its prohibition in the United States in the 20s. The side effects of this prohibition proved worse than its benefits, and alcohol currently enjoys the status of one of the few legally permitted Psychoactive drugs.

After diligently searching for beneficial effects of alcohol, society discovered that mild drinking promotes longevity. It is difficult to drink just the right amount of alcohol, and  There is little doubt that excessive drinking is deleterious to the body.

The liver is the organ responsible for getting rid of alcohol. Unfortunately, liver function gradually declines with age, so that the older you get the less alcohol you can tolerate. 14 drinks a week is the suggested upper limits for alcohol’s benefit, and this number shrinks as you get older.

I became interested in alcohol in the elderly because of a friend whose doctor discovered that his red blood cells were enlarged. This can be due to alcohol in at least two different ways. If you drink too much alcohol, you need less calories, and often have a poor diet as a result. B12 (and folic acid) deficiency can result and may cause large red blood cells.

I also learned that alcohol can directly caused large red blood cells because of the toxic effects on the bone marrow, where Red blood cells are made. The very young also have more difficulty with alcohol. Early in my career I discovered 2 young infants who had convulsions after getting into their parents wine closets. These convulsions turned out to be caused by a low blood sugar which developed because glucose, the common blood sugar, is consumed in the process of burning, or metabolizing, alcohol.

My own use of alcohol has been progressively declining with age. I feel good with less alcohol for a shorter time the older I get.

—Dr. C.

THE TWO SIDES OF STRESS

Stress in modern times most often has a BAD connotation. Stress is blamed for a raft of disorders from headaches to cardiovascular disease. Indeed, stress activates the adrenocortical “alarm reaction”, and if unremitting can indeed implement many chronic problems.

ACUTE stress, however, is often beneficial. The body responds favorably to measured amounts of brief stress, especially if it is YOUR CHOICE, and not demanded of you. It is WORK, when you would rather be doing something else. It is FUN when you are hiking up a steep but beautiful trail in the Swiss Alps. The flavor of reality takes place in the mind.

HEAT SHOCK PROTEINS (HSP) illustrates how your body works. If you get a little overheated, HSPs are produced and benefit any misfolded proteins that result. If you go hungry, a metabolic pathway burns fat and increases insulin sensitivity. If you exercise your mind, BDNF and new neurons result.

THE BODY ADJUSTS TO THE DEMANDS, and benefits flow. The body is designed to function. The trouble is that placing demands on the body is effortful, and effort requires discipline. The Paleolithic Hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the reality to which our metabolism is attuned, REQUIRED plenty of aerobic exercise, just to get food and avoid harm.

Our modern life is replete with deadlines and requirements, and hearts beat rapidly from ANXIETY rather than aerobic demand. Even the trades, which used to require physical energy expenditure have a lot of labor-saving devices. Children, insead of running, ride around on electrically propelled scooters. Little wonder that people are “out of shape” and gaining weight.

–Dr. C