Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation? The Answer May Surprise You!

With concern for health and well-being on the rise, many people are asking questions about alcohol. Alcohol is commonplace in the diets of many adults, with drinking habits ranging from once-in-a-while to at least one time a day. A most common question that is arising is, “does alcohol really cause inflammation?”

As is the case with many health related issues, the answer is not simply in black and white, yes or no. Although people searching for answers may expect a yes or no answer, they will probably not receive one, as all bodies are different. The answer is a bit more complicated, and requires us to take a closer look at alcohol’s effect on the body, and where that affect goes wrong. The answer, in fact, may surprise you. When the question is asked, “Does alcohol actually cause inflammation”, most people don’t have a general knowledge of what things cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by a variety of different foods and drinks, and each body metabolizes these items differently as well. Other people don’t know what kind of general effects happen when alcohol is consumed. Drinkers often  quickly they may become buzzed or drunk, but they remain unaware of what is happening to their bodies on a scientific, microscopic level. In order to be able to understand the question, “Does alcohol actually cause inflammation” we need to take a look at what types of food cause inflammation, and we can then see if alcohol fits into those categories.

Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation, a pint of larger on a wooden table.

When the body comes into contact with a substance that has no natural way of breaking down, inflammation may be a response that is seen. Things that tend to cause inflammation include processed foods that don’t occur in nature on their own. This includes Trans fats and sugars. The body was made to metabolize and digest items naturally occurring in nature, and items with a high level of processing and sugar tend to cause the body to work harder. So, in looking at the question, “Does alcohol really cause inflammation?” we are able to see two distinct categories that we may possibly put alcohol into.

So, if alcohol fits into one of these categories, does drink alcohol cause inflammation in the body? It depends on. When alcohol becomes metabolized in the body, it becomes straight sugar, and sugar is one of the categories established under foods that cause inflammation. But, does that mean that alcohol causes inflammation in the body? Not necessarily! It all depends on the body type as well as the type of alcohol and amount of alcohol.

The body can account for a certain amount of sugar without any metabolizing and digesting problems. It is only when we begin to digest too large amounts of sugar that the body responds to inflammation. Does alcohol actually cause inflammation? Certainly if a person is ingesting a high level of alcohol, which will produce a sugar overload in the body and extra immunity messengers will be present, it indeed causes inflammation. By its characteristic of metabolizing into straight sugar alone, we can indeed answer “yes” to our question of alcohol causing inflammation. Also, when alcohol is consumed, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the intestines. This is another cause for inflammation.

A bottle of whiskey.

However, there are also health benefits of drinking alcohol that are important factors to take into account when deciding if alcohol always causes inflammation. When the right amount of alcohol, for instance, red wine, is consumed, it may lower the risk of heart disease or even Alzheimer’s disease. Typically, in order for the consumption of alcohol to result in these types of benefits, the amount has to remain pretty small. When we take these factors into account, the answer to our question of “Does alcohol really cause inflammation?” becomes, “Not always!”

Indeed, each body metabolizes and digests alcohol in a different way depending on size, age resistance. While one body may be able to drink a full glass of red wine and still access the benefits of alcohol, another body may only be able to have a half a glass before hitting the point where the alcohol is doing more harm than good. Also, different bodies become inflamed at different points, and so after a glass of red wine, it could completely be possible for someone to not experience inflammatory responses to the alcohol.

In fact, in some studies, it is shown that wine can even reverse the effects of inflammation on the body! In that case, the answer to our question, “can alcohol cause inflammation?” would be “No.” Again, it all depends on the amount one drinks as well as their body’s tolerance. Those who are able to stay within the limits of alcohol appropriate for the body should keep that amount of alcohol in their diets if they would like to reap the health benefits offered. An inappropriate amount of alcohol does cause inflammation in the body, but that does not mean that people concerned with inflammation should cut it out of their diet altogether. It is important to be in tune with one’s body, tolerance, size, and metabolism to decide where that threshold lies.

In conclusion, the answer to the question, “Does alcohol cause inflammation?” is dependent upon the circumstances. In regards to any medical concerns or conditions, it is important to recognize that literally everybody on earth functions differently, and one answer may not be true for another person’s body. Those who are worried about alcohol causing inflammation in their bodies should  take into account the idea of how their body metabolizes sugar, and if they would like to keep alcohol as part of their diet, where their threshold lies. Those worried about bodily inflammation should be careful when it comes to metabolizing sugar and Trans fat in general. So, alcohol can cause inflammation in the body, but when consumed in an appropriate amount, it may allow the body numerous health benefits.

Two pints of larger.

Image Credits

Images used via creative commons –

Image One by Steph Chapman –

Image Two by Graham Maclean –

Image Three by Nicola –

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