Overview & Description
Alcohol is a class of chemical compounds containing hydroxyl, also called oxygen-hydrogen, groups.
Each person’s body tolerates alcohol in its own way. What is moderate intake for oneperson may be too much for someone else. So it is hard to give advice on how much alcohol is safe todrink. Each person needs to know how much alcohol he or she can tolerate. The US Department of Healthand Human Services defines moderate drinking as:
In small doses, alcohol may have some benefits. Small amounts of wine may helpprotect against heart disease,especially coronary artery disease.Experts aren’t sure why, although there are many theories. They believe that phytochemicals, which areplant chemicals in wine, may protect the heart and its blood vessels. Some studies have tested how well alcoholraises HDL cholesterol.HDL cholesterol is the so-called good cholesterol. Other studies have looked at the blood-thinningproperties of alcohol.
Despite these benefits, alcohol has a more harmful effect when it comes tocancer. In fact,heavy drinking is linked with a number of cancers. In women, even moderate drinking is linkedwith a higher risk of breast cancer.
Women who are pregnantshould always avoid alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy increases the chance that the baby will have a lowbirth weight and fetal alcohol syndrome,which is also known as FAS. FAS results in poor growth, delays in development, and altered facial structure.
People have enjoyed wine, beer, and other fermented drinks for more than 5,000 years.Many people like alcohol because it can improve mood, sensation, and behavior. And most people usealcohol in moderation. However, about 1 in 9 who drinks willabuse alcohol.
Functions and Sources
What food source is the nutrient found in?
Alcohol is made by mixing yeasts with certain sugars. The source of the sugars givesalcohols their unique tastes and odors. For example, vodka is made from potatoes, and wine comes from grapes.
Alcohol is a calorie-dense food. There are 7 calories in every gram of alcohol. In fact, it containsalmost twice as many calories as carbohydratesor protein. Here is an idea how manycalories are in some different types of alcohol:
How does the nutrient affect the body?
Unlike fat,protein, andcarbohydrate, alcohol is notsomething the body needs to be healthy. In fact, in large doses, alcohol causesmalnutrition. This is because it preventsnutrients from being absorbed. People who binge drink can develop an early stage of liver diseasecalled fatty liver. If a binge drinker continues to abuse alcohol,alcoholic liver disease may develop.Cirrhosis is the most common type of liver diseasein these cases. It is a chronic disease that causes liver cells to be destroyed. It can also result inloss of liver function.
Alcohol affects the brain as well as the body. It acts as ananesthetic. This means it numbs the brain centers.First the emotion- and decision-governing centers are changed, then areas that governmuscle control. In the end, the centers that control breathing and heartbeat are affected.
Article type: xmedgeneral