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drinking certainly will change the micro- biome in the gastrointestinal tract,” said Choudhry. “And this microbiome has many long-term effects on different parts of the body.” The microbiome has been implicated in medical conditions ranging from irri- table bowel syndrome to obesity.


Long-term heavy alcohol use can also affect your:


Blood and immune system. Chronic alcohol use can lead to anemia, low platelets, and a suppressed immune system.


Bones and muscles. Heavy long-term use of alcohol can interfere with absorp- tion of calcium and bone formation. This can lead to osteoporosis.


Brain and nervous system. Heavy alco- hol use increases the risk of stroke and can lead to dementia or impaired bal- ance and coordination.


Mental health. In addition to alcohol dependency and addiction, heavy drink- ers are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and psychosis.


Sexual health. Chronic heavy use of alcohol can reduce fertility in men and women and decrease a man’s sex drive. Drinking while pregnant can also affect the health of the fetus.


Intestines. Heavy alcohol intake can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients in the gut. This can lead to malnutrition.


Cutting back on the amount or fre-


quency of drinking can reduce these risks. But even low-risk alcohol use doesn’t mean no risk. The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol


Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that men consume no more than four drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Women should drink no more than three drinks a day and no more than seven per week.


Reducing the impact of binge drinking


on society, though, will need recognizing the scope of the problem and addressing it with alcohol taxes, alcohol advertising guidelines, and reasonable restrictions on availability of alcohol. “Binge drinking is a very common


behavior. It’s not a behavior that’s limited, by any means, to alcoholics,” said Naimi. “And it’s a behavior that can be readily reduced by strong public health interven- tions.”


The above article can be found at Health- line.com and was written by Shawn Rad- cliffe, who is a science writer and yoga teacher in Ontario, Canada. His work has appeared in print and digital publications, including Healthline, Mindbodygreen, Science & Nonduality, and others. Origi- nally from New Hampshire, Shawn lived in Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, before trading in the big city for small-town living. When he’s not reading or writing, Shawn is often backpacking, bicycling, or wandering the streets of a new city.


FEBRUARY 2021


21


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