Alcohol - check yourself before you wreck yourself

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Members who regularly drink alcohol recognize the immediate effects it has on their bodies, but may not realize how it may affect their bodies over longer periods of time.

Abby Olson, 28th Medical Group Health and Wellness Center dietitian, said when alcohol is consumed in moderation, it poses little threat to the body - on the other hand - over indulgence can cause serious damage to organs and brain function.

"Over drinking alcohol increases such dangers as high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer and anemia," Olson said. "Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to a very serious disease known as alcoholism."

Olson added that since it's impossible to predict how alcohol consumption will impact drinkers and given the risks, the American Heart Association cautions people who have not started drinking to not do so.

Drinking alcohol regularly can also hinder physical and nutritional goals, especially for those who stress their bodies during intense workouts.

"Alcohol is high in calories, providing seven calories per every gram," emphasized Olson. "If you are trying to watch your weight or build lean muscle, limit calories from alcohol because they add up fast and are low in quality. It also increases risk for dehydration, heat illness and muscle cramping."

Olson added that alcohol suppresses the use of fat as a fuel source during exercise and will delay post exercise recovery and muscle repair.

"People who drink often experience a loss of focus and concentration during work because alcohol affects their sleeping pattern," Olson explained. "We all have a job to do and if we're not in good health, we won't be able to perform to the best of our abilities. At the end of the day, it's okay to drink - just drink in reasonable amounts. Remember, you only have one body so take care of it."

According to the AHA, an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women can lower the incidence of heart disease. One drink being defined as one 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.

Airmen who are struggling with issues related to drugs or alcohol can find out more information, enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program, or sign up for a responsible drinking class by calling the 28th MDOS Mental Health Clinic at (605) 385-3656 or enrolling online at the Leadership Pathways website. Classes are held monthly on the first Friday of every month in the Health and Wellness Center.