How Drinking More Alcohol Can Increase Your Susceptibility to the Coronavirus
In this uncertain time, people are turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism as they stay in isolation. What they may not realize is that drinking alcohol can actually weaken your immune system, making it easier to contract the coronavirus. It is important to take care of yourself without the use of alcohol to strengthen your immune system and stay safe.
Alcohol Users are Rising
Many people want to be able to experience a rush or a high while they are stuck in their homes. In California, bars and restaurants are closed, but customers are allowed to have alcoholic beverages dropped off at their doorsteps. Delivery hours are extended for retailers until midnight.
These efforts are done to support the alcoholic beverage industry and its workers. The problem is that people are still gaining access to have cases of alcohol delivered to their houses. With no schedule or anywhere to go, it is not the most wise decision to spend your days getting intoxicated in your home, as this may actually be worsening your anxiety or depression.
Alcohol Weakens the Immune System
The coronavirus symptoms range from mild to severe with the potential to cause serious or fatal illnesses to those over the age of 65, as well as those with a weakened immune system or certain health conditions. Studies have shown a strong link between excessive drinking and a weak immune system. Alcohol changes the makeup of the gut microbiome and damages the immune cells that line the intestines. This serves as the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria, so when these cells have been weakened, it makes it easier for pathogens to cross into your bloodstream.
Even if you think you have your drinking under control, research shows that even those with a non-chronic drinking problem can still face the risk of experiencing negative consequences. The same goes with being a binge drinker. It only takes one binge episode — four or more drinks in two to three hours for women and five or more drinks for men — to significantly lower your immune system’s strength. Alcohol abuse has led to issues with the heart and lungs, as well. Now, more than ever, our bodies need to function at their best in order to fight off the symptoms of the virus and decrease its potential harm.
A Dietician Recommends Not to Drink
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine believes that drinking alcohol is not the best option right now for your health. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol will not only ruin your immune system, but you are filling your body up with a drink that does not provide any nutritional value. This can cause you to make unhealthy food choices for the days to come, which will also not help your immune system. Additionally, it is advised to avoid making too many trips out of the house, so it may be best to avoid frequently going out to get junk food or fast food; this is not the best time to add more health problems to your list.
If you plan on quitting drinking completely while you are at home, you should never stop cold turkey, or it can lead to painfully uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It is normally not recommended to detox at your home compared to going to an inpatient facility, but you still can try detoxing at home if you are under quarantine. You should slowly start tapering off your alcohol consumption.
It is best to stick with beer to taper off, compared to hard liquor, as it has a lower alcohol content. Drink no more than one beer per hour. Gradually reduce your intake from one drink a day to one per week. Continue to drink plenty of water to hydrate your body.
Once you feel like you have no more need for a drink, that is when you can quit completely. You should also bring your nutrition back with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, as well as foods with lots of fiber. Make sure to monitor yourself closely. If you are experiencing any health complications while you are detoxing, that is the time to call or visit a doctor.
Do Not Panic
Panicking during this time will only make your anxiety levels worse. When our fight-or-flight response is set off, it will take a toll on our immune system. You can strengthen your immune system by eating healthy and taking the necessary precautions advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This means maintaining social distancing and going into voluntary quarantine at home. If you are over the age of 65, it is best to stay home completely. Anyone younger should be aware that if they do happen to contract the virus, they will most likely experience mild to moderate symptoms and fully recover.
It is important to still try to exercise or find excuses to move around the house like cleaning or organizing. There are plenty of workouts you can try at home, or you can take walks outside if you feel comfortable. You can also walk laps up and down the stairs if you do not want to go outside.
Any of these activities can help strengthen your lungs and keep you awake. If you feel like catching up on your favorite show, lift some weights while you are at it. You can also try taking supplements like Vitamin C, a good probiotic, and/or zinc. Making healthy decisions and staying away from alcohol while you are at home can make a big difference in your immune system and ultimately strengthen your ability to fight off the virus.
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