Alcohol Awareness Month: Too Much Drink Can Do a Number on Your Immune System
Alcohol can be your friend during cold and flu (and COVID-19) season.
Clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or if you only have hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. For surfaces, a solution that has at least 70% alcohol should keep bugs at bay.
But resorting to drinking the hard stuff, that’s not so great for one’s health.
Never mind cases of people drinking bootleg liquor in a misguided effort to treat coronavirus.
Drinking pure methanol (wood grain alcohol) won’t do a lick of good. It can lead to blindness and even death. Rubbing alcohol is no better. Small amounts can kill a child. It’s poisonous to adults, too. Even inhaling it can be deadly.
That’s definitely no healing elixir.
Excess alcohol consumption isn’t a friend to the immune system, either. Science says too much can make one more vulnerable to illnesses such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndromes, alcoholic liver disease, and some cancers. It also slows and inhibits recovery from infections and wounds.
Too much alcohol also robs the body of needed vitamins.
To keep your immune system functioning at its best, a few good habits will help:
- Make sure your diet has plenty of fruits and vegetables
- If you drink, do it in moderation
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid infection by washing your hands regularly and often
A daily multivitamin is a good idea too.
Vitamins A and D and zinc help strengthen the immune system.
Vitamin C is a popular pick, too, in part because it’s thought to boost white blood cell production. Vitamin C can be found in citrus, red bell peppers and broccoli. Spinach is rich in the stuff as well, along with vitamin A and other antioxidants.
Find zinc in shellfish, beans, beef, and fortified cereals. Get vitamin D from swordfish, salmon and tuna, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.
If alcohol or drug use is impacting your day-to-day life in a negative way, whether it’s leading to family strife, job struggles, or health issues, remember that help is out there.
cdc.gov – Show Me the Science — When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings
cdc.gov – Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
cbsnews.com – 44 People Killed from Alcohol Poisoning in Iran Trying to Ward Off Coronavirus
time.com – The History of Poisoned Alcohol Includes an Unlikely Culprit: The U.S. Government
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Alcohol and the Immune System
surgeongeneral.gov – Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
drugabuse.gov – What Is Cocaine?
health.harvard.edu – How to Boost Your Immune System
cdc.gov – Micronutrient Facts
healthline.com – 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System
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