Alcohol is the number one folk drug. Every German consumes an average of 138.4 liters of alcoholic beverages per year. This harms the body in many ways, but the liver is especially affected as the central organ of alcohol degradation. An alcohol abuse is when regular large amounts of alcohol are drunk, but no dependence on the substance. In the case of alcohol addiction, one is physically and / or mentally dependent on the substance alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease. It never occurs suddenly, but development there is usually a long-lasting process. An estimated 1.6 million people are addicted to alcohol in Germany, and a further eight million at least engage in alcohol abuse. After all, 74, 000 people die annually from the consequences of this abuse.
Alcohol is a cytotoxin!
Alcohol, ethanol or C 2 H 5 OH is the most important toxic substance in fermented beverages. Regular use of alcohol causes both physical and mental harm. The liver is the central organ of alcohol degradation and therefore greatly affected by excessive alcohol consumption. Liver damage is the most common result of continued alcohol consumption. However, not all alcohol-related illnesses and deaths are associated with the liver.
What happens in the liver?
Only about 10 percent of the ingested alcohol is excreted unchanged by kidney and lung, about 90 percent is broken down in the liver. Here run off a multiplicity of biochemical processes. So an important process is the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde in large quantities, however, damages the liver's cellular function and is also responsible for the hangover the morning after.
Furthermore, there is a restriction of fatty acid degradation and at the same time increasing the re-synthesis of fatty acids. These fatty acids are deposited in the cells of the liver - they fatigue, so to speak. Later it comes to fatty liver hepatitis and subsequently by destruction of the lobular structure of the liver to liver cirrhosis.
What alcohol-related diseases of the liver are there?
- Fatty liver: alcoholic fatty liver represents the early stage of alcohol-related liver disease. The undegraded fat (see above) accumulates in the liver and gradually leads to the alcohol fatty liver. However, with alcohol abstinence, the changes are back again.
- An alcoholic hepatitis arises when an already existing fatty liver is further heavily burdened by massive alcohol consumption. In the course of the disease, it comes to pain, flu-like symptoms, indigestion and jaundice.
- Cirrhosis of the liver: Alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver may be symptom-free, especially in the early stages, but leads to irreversible changes in the liver tissue through conversion into connective tissue. This disease is incurable.
A glass of wine for women - two for men
The most important measure for the prevention of alcohol-related liver diseases is a reasonable handling of alcohol. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), moderate alcohol consumption is considered to be a daily alcohol consumption of up to 10 g in women and up to 20 g in men. 10 g of alcohol equals about 0.1 liter of wine or 0.25 liters of beer. Who exceeds these amounts, in which the risk of alcohol sequelae of the liver increases significantly.
WHO also recommends inserting at least 1 to 3 non-alcoholic days per week. Dealing with alcohol also plays a crucial role in therapy. People who suffer from fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis or liver cirrhosis should live abstinent. While fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis can be repaired, liver changes in cirrhosis are no longer reversible. So far, you should not let it come so far.
The hangover afterwards ...
Since the feeling of rich alcohol is as unpleasant as a catarrh, students in the 19th century described alcoholic after-noise as a "hangover." A hangover is associated with a massive need for fluidity.
This is because the alcohol extracts water from our bodies. Some drinks also contain fungal oils that can turn the liver into toxic substances. So the head still buzzes often even if you are already sober.
History of alcohol
Alcoholic beverages are not a "invention" of modern times, on the contrary - as a food, pleasure and intoxicant, alcoholic beverages have a millennia-old tradition. The oldest records can be found in the Sumerians (about 5000 BC).
In Egypt, then around 3700 BC. the first beer brewery. Beer was considered a staple food and was also used as a means of payment. For example, civil servants and slaves were paid part of their salary in beer. Wine was also known to the ancient Egyptians. Only recently scientists could prove traces of wine in the grave chamber Tutenchamuns.
The first distillation, ie the separation of liquid substances by evaporation and re-liquefaction, took place in the Arab world around 700 AD. Thus, the production of higher-percentage alcoholic beverages was possible. Only in the 11th century did this method reach Europe. Thus in the Middle Ages monasteries were important places of beer and wine production.