Effects of Drinking Alcohol to Your Brain

Story at-a-glance

  • Alcohol slows the functioning of the limbic system of your brain, which controls emotions such as anxiety and fear
  • The functioning of your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows when you drink alcohol
  • At high doses, alcohol may cause the neurons in your brain that control your heart rate and breathing to slow down their communication to the point that your breathing stops completely, leading to death.

alcohol poisoning

 Alcohol acts as a depressant to your central nervous system, which means when you drink it your brain cells communicate at a slower rate than normal. The limbic system of your brain, which controls emotions such as anxiety and fear, is also affected.

As the function of your limbic system decreases, your inhibitions may disappear and you may become more outgoing and social.

The functioning of your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows when you drink alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and (combined) sometimes-poor judgment.

At lower doses your body can still function under the influence of alcohol, but as the dose increases, so too do its effects. As you drink more, your behavior and judgment will become increasingly uninhibited, and your cerebellum, which plays a role in muscle activity, will also be impacted.

This is why, as you become more inebriated, you may lose your balance, feel dizzy and definitely shouldn’t attempt to drive.

At high doses, the neurons in your brain that control your heart rate and breathing may slow down their communication to the point that your breathing stops completely, leading to death.1

Alcohol Leads to Different Effects in Different People

The same alcoholic beverage, whether it be a glass of wine or mixed cocktail, affects each person differently. Your body weight, ratio of muscle and fat, health status and even your genetic makeup will affect how much alcohol enters your bloodstream.

Whether or not you’re eating will also affect this, as food in your stomach tends to reduce alcohol absorption. Interestingly, even your mood can affect how you feel when drinking alcohol, as it tends to make a bad mood worse.

Your mindset also plays a role, with research showing that even drinking “fake” alcohol can make people feel tipsy.2

Alcohol is also the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S. It’s estimated that 1 in 12 Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence while several million engage in risky binge drinking patterns.3

Record Number of Americans Are Drinking Themselves to Death

Alcohol-related deaths reached a 35-year high in 2014, when more than 30,700 Americans died from such causes as alcohol poisonings and cirrhosis. This amounted to about 9.6 deaths from alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people in 2014 — a 37 percent increase since 2002. 4

These numbers do not include deaths from alcohol-related homicides, drunk driving or other accidents. If those figures were included, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest alcohol-related deaths would be closer to 90,000. As reported by The Washington Post:5

“In recent years, public health experts have focused extensively on overdose deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers, which have risen rapidly since the early 2000s.

But in 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647), according to the CDC.”

This isn’t to say that prescription painkiller and heroin addiction isn’t also an epidemic of major concern. A joint report by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed lethal heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2013.6

Between 2000 and 2010, heroin-related deaths rose at an average rate of 6 percent per year in the U.S. Then, from 2010 to 2013, the average annual increase suddenly jumped to 37 percent.

According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, opioid painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet increase your susceptibility to heroin addiction, and the report found that the vast majority — 75 percent — of heroin users started out on prescription painkillers.

Further, those who abuse prescription opiates have a 40 times greater risk of abusing heroin, and the widespread misuse of prescription painkillers is thought to be at the heart of rising heroin addiction and related deaths.

However, getting back to alcohol, the rise in alcohol-related deaths may be related to the steady rise in per capita alcohol consumption in the U.S. Nearly 57 percent of Americans drank at least monthly in 2014 (up from 55 percent in 2002).

A recent study published in Scientific Reports that compared the risks of recreational drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana found alcohol to be the deadliest of all on an individual level, and noted that “on a population scale, only alcohol would fall into the ‘high risk’ category.”7

Hospital Visits for Alcohol Poisoning Double in Six Years

In England, hospital visits for alcohol poisoning have doubled since 1999, while emergency room admissions due to alcohol-related liver disease and other causes rose more than 50 percent in the last nine years, according to data from the Nuffield Trust.8

Rates of alcohol poisoning were highest among female teens aged 15 to 19, while emergency visits due to liver disease were highest among men aged 45 to 64. The figures are thought to be underestimated as they don’t include admissions due to alcohol-related falls or fights.

Alcohol poisoning impairs your body and eventually can shut down the areas of your brain that control basic life-support functions like breathing, heart rate, and temperature control. Women are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning, in part because they have lower body water percentage in the body.

The average female has only 52 percent while the average male has 61 percent. Women also have less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme designed to break down alcohol in the body, than men.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that men are completely safe from the dangers of alcohol poisoning, especially if binge drinking is involved. Below are some of the most common telltale signs of alcohol poisoning:

Loss of coordination Cold, clammy hands and bluish skin due to hypothermia
Vomiting repeatedly and/or uncontrollably Irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths)
Seizures Confusion, unconsciousness, stupor (conscious but unresponsive), and sometimes coma

Binge Drinking Plus Chronic Alcohol Use Is Especially Damaging to Your Liver

Drinking enough to bring your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g percent or above is considered binge drinking. Generally, this occurs when women consume four or more, or men consume five or more, alcoholic beverages in a two-hour period.

When binge drinking is combined with chronic alcohol use, it leads to liver damage that is more extensive than previously thought, according to research published in the journal Biomolecules.9 When mice were exposed to either chronic alcohol use or binge drinking, it led to moderate liver damage. However, when mice were exposed to both of these circumstances, the highest level of liver damage occurred.

This wasn’t entirely surprising, but the extent of liver damage was: mice exposed to both chronic and binge alcohol had 13 times higher fatty deposits in their liver compared to the control group. Study author Shivendra Shukla, Ph.D., from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, told Medical News Today:10

“Drinking alcohol excessively can create an inflammatory response to the liver and other organ systems in the body. If those organs work at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes can be affected. It is important for us to understand the extent of damage caused by alcohol abuse, which also can lead to other health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.”

If you have a habit of binge drinking, simple text-message reminders may help you cut back. Young adults in a study on this received a series of text messages asking about weekend plans for drinking and expressing concern if excessive levels were mentioned.

The texts also suggested setting goals to limit or reduce alcohol consumption. Those who received the text interventions had a 12 percent reduced incidence of binge drinking.11 Even if you don’t have a formal text message intervention available, you can try a similar program with a group of friends.

Can Fatty Liver Be Reversed?

Alcohol consumption is a leading cause of fatty liver, but non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) may also occur in people who are overweight or obese, have high cholesterol or high triglycerides, and who consume little or no alcohol. In either case, fatty liver can often be reversed by making lifestyle changes. If alcohol is the cause, you will need to abstain from alcohol while making further positive changes.

If you have NAFLD, the first step for treatment should be to limit your fructose consumption to under 15 grams per day (including from fruits.) Fructose is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in the damage that it can do to your body — and your liver. Eating right and exercising can often prevent this condition and may even reverse it in its early stages. This is in part because it encourages weight loss.

In one study with patients who had advanced fatty liver disease, and who followed a diet and exercise program for one year, significant benefits were reported. Ninety percent of those who lost 10 percent or more of their body weight had a resolution in the condition while 45 percent had regression of fibrosis (scarring).12,13

Chronic Alcohol Consumption Disturbs Your Gut Microbes

Researchers are increasingly starting to recognize gut microbiota as one of your unappreciated “organs.” It may be even more apt to view your body as a “super organism” composed of symbiotic microorganisms. Either way, there’s no denying the powerful influence these microorganisms have on both your physical and mental health.

The bacteria in your gut may be considered among the most important however, due to their wide-ranging and cascading health effects. It’s well known that altering the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract can weaken your immune system, for example.

And once your immune system is compromised, your body becomes far more vulnerable to all sorts of foreign invaders, inflammation and disease.

Even the National Institutes of Health cites research showing that “variations in the composition of microbial communities may contribute to chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, obesity, and digestive disorders.”14 Poor diet, stress, exposure to antibiotics, and chronic alcohol use all have the potential to disrupt your gut microbes.

For instance, research published in the American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology showed that chronic alcohol consumption results in alterations of the gut microbiome in a subgroup of alcoholics, which may result in an inflammatory state.15 So when considering the decision to drink alcohol, especially chronically, you need to consider not only your liver health but also the risk to your microbiome.

Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption Healthy?

The latest Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) scientific report, which forms the basis for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, suggests “moderate consumption of alcohol [is a component] of a beneficial dietary pattern in most studies.”16

Whether or not moderate alcohol consumption can be safe and even healthy is controversial, with studies showing a mixed bag of results. For instance, research shows people who have one to two drinks a day may have a significantly reduced risk of death from heart disease and “all causes” compared to those who never drink alcohol.17

On the other hand, alcohol consumption may be associated with an increased risk of cancer, even at moderate levels of intake. The New York Times reported:18

“Synthesizing all this, there seems to be a sizable amount of evidence that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death. It also seems to be associated with increased rates, perhaps to a lesser extent, of some cancers, especially breast cancer, as well as some other diseases or conditions.

The gains from improved cardiovascular disease deaths seem to outweigh all of the losses in other diseases combined.”

When it comes to alcohol, I generally define “moderate” alcohol intake (which is allowed in the beginner phase of my nutrition plan) as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day. As you progress further in the nutrition plan, I do recommend eliminating all forms of alcohol.

If You’re a Chronic Drinker, Try Exercise

Among 60 long-time drinkers, those who were the most physically active had less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who were less active.19 The white matter is considered the “wiring” of your brain’s communication system, and is known to decline in quality with age and heavy alcohol consumption.

In addition to helping protect your brain, if you know you’re prone to alcohol abuse or have a family history of alcohol addiction, exercising regularly can greatly reduce your risk of becoming dependent. The cravings for alcohol can become all-consuming, and eventually an alcoholic does not feel “normal” until they’ve had a drink.

The alcohol abuse inevitably throws off your circadian rhythm — the normal times you eat, sleep and wake up — as well, leading to a downward spiral of health and emotional effects. When you drink, it chemically alters your brain to release dopamine, a chemical your brain associates with rewarding behaviors.

When you exercise, however, this same reward chemical is released, which means you can get the same “buzz” from working out that you can get from a six-pack of beer, with far better outcomes for your health.

For those already addicted, exercise is beneficial too, and may actually help to lessen cravings. Research has found, in fact, that hamsters that ran the most consumed less alcohol, while less active hamsters had greater cravings for and consumption of alcohol.20By replacing drinking with exercise, you may find that the rewarding feeling you get from exercise provides you with a suitable alternative to the rewarding feeling you previously got from alcohol.

If You’re Planning a Few Drinks, This Protocol May Help Lessen the Damage to Your Body

While I don’t recommend drinking alcohol, if you know you’ll be having a few drinks, take this natural protocol beforehand to help “pre-tox” your body:

1.N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)

NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine. It is known to help increase glutathione and reduce the acetaldehyde toxicity21 that causes many hangover symptoms. Try taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before you drink to help lessen the alcohol’s toxic effects.

If you’re wondering just how powerful NAC can be, consider that, like alcohol, one way that Tylenol causes damage to your liver is by depleting glutathione. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable. This is why anyone who overdoses on Tylenol receives large doses of NAC in the emergency room — to increase glutathione.

2.B Vitamins

NAC is thought to work even better when combined with thiamine, or vitamin B1.22 Vitamin B6 may also help to lessen hangover symptoms. Since alcohol depletes B vitamin in your body, and the B vitamins are required to help eliminate it from your body, a B-vitamin supplement taken beforehand, as well as the next day, may help.

3.Milk Thistle

Milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants that are known to help protect your liver from toxins, including the effects of alcohol. Not only has silymarin been found to increase glutathione, but it also may help to regenerate liver cells.23

A milk thistle supplement may be most useful when taken regularly, especially if you know you’ll be having cocktails on more than one occasion.

4.Vitamin C

Alcohol may deplete your body of vitamin C, which is important for reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver. Interestingly, one animal study showed vitamin C was even more protective to the liver than silymarin (milk thistle) after exposure to alcohol.24

Making sure you’re getting enough vitamin C, either via supplements or food, is another trick to use prior to indulging in alcoholic beverages. Vitamin C is actually such a powerful detoxifier that if you take large doses prior to receiving dental anesthesia, the anesthesia will be significantly weakened and may not work!


Magnesium is another nutrient depleted by alcohol, and it’s one that many are already deficient in. Plus, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce some hangover symptoms. If you don’t eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement before an evening involving drinking may be helpful.


National Cancer Institute: 90% of population unaware that alcohol causes cancer

Image: National Cancer Institute: 90% of population unaware that alcohol causes cancer

Is it really that surprising that most Americans are unaware that booze causes cancer? Alcohol is often painted with a very positive brush, and is a prominent feature of our own society as well as of other societies across the globe.

Despite being widely consumed and readily available, approximately nine out of 10 people do not know that there are many established links between alcohol and cancer. Alcohol is considered a carcinogen, and has been linked to seven different types of cancer. Alcohol is not just a drug, but is also a poison that contributes to 88,000 deaths every year. The CDC reports that about 1,600 deaths are directly related to alcohol poisoning. Conversely, there has never been a reported overdose death that was related to cannabis.

In fact, cannabis is less harmful than alcohol in just about every single way. Alcohol causes brain damage, while studies show that cannabis can actually help prevent alcohol-related brain damage. Alcohol use is clearly related to a number of different cancers. Marijuana Policy Project notes that several different studies have shown that cannabis use can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Cannabis use has even been associated with a lower risk of lung cancer. And despite the government claims that it contributes to head and neck cancers, studies have shown that such claims are actually the opposite of reality.

In addition to not being associated with cancer, cannabis is not associated with other health problems either. Alcohol, on the other hand, is tied to many other conditions. For example, alcohol can damage your heart, liver and pancreas. Damage can be incurred after even just one occasion of binge drinking – never mind what will happen to these organs after many binge drinking episodes.

Studies have shown that in addition to being linked to a variety of health problems, alcohol is also far more addictive than cannabis. MPP reports:

“According to a 1998 report by Drs. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco, alcohol’s addiction potential is significantly greater than that of marijuana based on a number of indicators.”

The organization also writes that even federal studies have found that marijuana has a very low potential for addiction, and that it is significantly less addictive than other substances, including legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine. That’s right; even the federal government has concluded that marijuana is less addictive than booze and cigarettes!

If marijuana is less harmful and less addictive than alcohol, then why is it still illegal?

Marijuana is less dangerous than sugar, alcohol and tobacco

Image: Marijuana is less dangerous than sugar, alcohol and tobacco

Three substances far more dangerous than marijuana are readily available at your nearest convenience store. Tobacco, alcohol and sugar are all substances that are more addictive than pot, and they’re more likely to make you sick too.

Polling conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal  in 2014, revealed that more and more people are starting to agree that pot is safer than “everyday” items like beer and cigarettes. Who would have thought? Nearly half of those polled (49 percent) believed that tobacco was the most dangerous substance, while alcohol trailed behind at 24 percent, followed by sugar at 15 percent. Only a mere 8 percent of people polled felt that marijuana was the most dangerous.

Some doctors even agree that alcohol is more dangerous than pot. Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, told CBS News that while he feels the first answer should always be that neither is a “safe” option, he does believe that alcohol is worse.

Carroll said, “After going through all the data and looking at which is more dangerous in almost any metric you would pick, pot really looks like it’s safer than alcohol.” He also goes on to note that most of the crimes committed that involve marijuana have to do with illegal distribution, and there are not a lot of violent crimes perpetrated by pot smokers. Conversely, there are a very large number of crimes committed that involve alcohol as a component. Alcohol is known for contributing to violent assaults, in particular. Carroll says, “It’s far worse than what’s going on with pot.”

In addition to causing less crime, pot also appears to be less addictive. Studies show that only 9 percent of people who experiment with pot will become addicted or dependent on it. In contrast, more than 20 percent of people who experiment with booze will become dependent or abuse it. So, in reality, alcohol is far more likely to cause problems later in life.

The only real reason why booze and tobacco are generally more “accepted” by society is because they’ve been part of our culture for longer. Marijuana is being treated the same way alcohol was treated duringprohibition . Prohibition on alcohol ended in 1933; isn’t it time we did the same for marijuana?

How Alcohol Affects Your Lungs: Binge Drinking May Lead To Breathing Problems

Binge drinking may be the reason it’s hard to catch your breath. Alcohol affects nearly every major organin the human body, including the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but a team of researchers from Loyola University has found it can also make it harder for the lungs to breathe.

A new study, published in the journal Chest, reveals the first link between excessive alcohol consumptionand nitric oxide levels — a naturally produced gas that helps fight bacterial infections in the lungs. Study participants who had lower levels of the gas were also the excessive drinkers, while those who never drank had higher levels of nitric oxide. The more a participant reported drinking, the lower their levels, which told researchers that their bodies were less equipped to kill bacteria and fight off lung infections.

For the study, researchers combed through data from 12,059 people between the ages of 21 to 79 who were interviewed for a period of five years. They were asked how much and how often they drank, which grouped them into categories: never drinkers; nonexcessive drinkers; excessive drinkers; and formerexcessive drinkers. Excessive alcohol drinkers were considered women who consumed more than one drink a day on average and men who had more than two drinks a day.

Breathing problemsAlcohol abuse can lead to bacterial infections in the lungs.

“Alcohol appears to disrupt the healthy balance in the lung,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Majid Afshar, a pulmonologist at Loyola University’s School of Medicine, in a statement. “Lung doctors may need to take this into consideration.”

One out of every four Americans drinks to excess, which will lead to six alcohol poisoning deaths every day. Researchers will continue working to unravel the complex relationship between alcohol consumptionand the human body.

Afshar concludes: “Accounting for alcohol use levels should be an additional consideration, and further investigations are warranted to explore the complex interaction between alcohol and nitric oxide in the airways.”

Drinking alcohol before going to sleep reduces chances of feeling rested, say researchers

Frontal brain activity is increased during sleep after drinking alcohol.

The study on 24 students, with equal numbers of men and women aged 18 to 21, shows that non-rapid eye movement sleep was increased while alcohol “exerted an arousal influence” on the brain.

The experiment, involving tests with pre-sleep alcohol and a placebo, concluded that the lack of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep caused by drinking can also debilitate a person’s functions upon waking and for hours later.

The study by University of Melbourne, was published yesterday inAlcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, and shows that cognitive functions such as memory and processing of information in the brain is impacted by drinking the night before.

Not drinking alcohol before bed increases likelihood of REM sleep

One of the authors of the study, Dr Christian Nicholas, said as reported by the Daily Mail: “Similar increases in alpha-delta activity, which are associated with poor or unrefreshing sleep and daytime function, have been observed in individuals with chronic pain conditions.

“Thus, if sleep is being disrupted regularly by pre-sleep alcohol consumption, particularly over long periods of time, this could have significant detrimental effects on daytime well-being and neurocognitive function such as learning and memory processes.”

Cancer-causing gene triggered by alcohol may increase breast cancer risk

A University of Houston researcher and his team have discovered an important link between alcohol and breast cancer by identifying a cancer-causing gene triggered by alcohol.

“Alcohol consumption is prevalent among women in the U.S. and is a risk factor for breast cancer,” said UH cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin. “Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF.”

Lin, an assistant professor with the UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling and the Department of Biology and Biochemistry, and his former Ph.D. student, Nicholes Candelaria, describe their findings in a paper titled “Alcohol Regulates Genes that Are Associated with Response to Endocrine Therapy and Attenuates the Actions of Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer Cells,” recently appearing in PLOS ONE, an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. Lin and Candelaria, who graduated from UH in 2015 and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, collaborated with renowned alcohol researcher Rajesh Miranda, a professor at Texas A&M University.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of breast cancer cases in the U.S. and Europe each year are attributable to alcohol consumption and that drinking is also associated with an increased risk of disease recurrence in women with early stage breast cancer.

The study objective was to determine how alcohol can affect the actions of estrogen in breast cancer cells. The research team not only established that alcohol increases estrogen-induced cell proliferation, but their findings also provide a direct link between alcohol, estrogen and a cancer-causing gene in promoting cancer cell growth.

They found that alcohol inappropriately promotes sustained expression of BRAF, even in the absence of estrogen, thereby mimicking or enhancing the effects of estrogen in increasing the risk of breast cancer. Another key finding was that alcohol weakened Tamoxifen’s ability to suppress the rapid growth of cancer cells. Lin and his colleagues posit that their results suggest exposure to alcohol may affect a number of cancer-related pathways and mechanisms. They say these findings not only shed light on mechanistic actions of alcohol in breast cancer, but also provide fresh insight to the cross-talk between alcohol and cancer-related gene pathways and networks in breast cancer.

Their ultimate goal is to use this knowledge in breast cancer prevention, but Lin says their findings also have implications for women who are undergoing hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms, as alcohol can affect the actions of the hormones they take to manage their symptoms. The research highlights potential long-term health effects for college-age women, as well, who might find themselves in situations where heavy or binge drinking is part of the social environment.

“We hope these and future findings will provide information and motivation to promote healthy behavioral choices, as well as potential targets for chemoprevention strategies to ultimately decrease breast cancer incidents and deaths within the next decade,” Lin said. “We want to provide women, in general, with more information and insight to be better able to balance their consumption of alcoholic beverages with the potential health risks, including cancer patients who may want to take into consideration the potential detrimental effects alcohol consumption might have on treatments and modify their behavior and habits accordingly.”

North Korea claims to invent ‘alcohol which doesn’t give you hangover’

The drink, which is made from burnt rice, “is suave and causes no hangovers,” according to state media.

Kim Jong-Un visits a factory of the Korean People's Army, North Korea - 15 Nov 2014

Kim Jong-un claims to have invented a special blend of liquor which doesn’t give you a hangover

They already claim to have cured cancer, Aids and Ebola with a miracle drug produced from ginseng root.

Now North Korean scientists seem to have scaled new heights of greatness with their latest invention – a special blend of liquor which doesn’t give you a hangover.

According to the state-controlled newspaper Pyongyang Times, the drink also relies on ginseng root for its medicinal qualities and has been hailed as a “national scientific and technological hit.”

Helter Skelter: Kim Jong-un smiles while enjoying a ride at the Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang. The North Korean leader, along with his wife Ri Sol-ju, was attending a ceremony to mark the completion of the amusement park.

The recipe replaces sugar with burnt rice, supposedly eliminating the liquor’s bitter taste along with any risks of a hangover.

The drink “is suave and causes no hangovers”, claimed the Pyongyang Times piece, which was entitled: “Liquor wins quality medal for preserving national smack.”

It is the latest in a string of outlandish claims made by North Korea’s state media, which once congratulated its supreme commander for learning to drive at the age of three.

Named Koryo liquor, it was produced at the Taedonggang Foodstuff Factory, which has devoted years to concocting the perfect alcoholic drink, according to the Pyongyang Times.

“Koryo Liquor, which is made of six-year-old Kaesong Koryo insam, known as being highest in medicinal effect, and the scorched rice, is highly appreciated by experts and lovers as it is suave and causes no hangover,” the article claims.

Korean Central News Agency also referred to the drink as “the elixir of life”.



Everybody likes a good alcoholic beverage every now and again, but you may want to rethink your nightly cocktail. Alcohol might do more harm than it does anything, specifically to your brain.

Study after study suggests that alcohol in moderation may promote heart health and even ward off diabetes and dementia. The evidence is so plentiful that some experts consider moderate drinking about one drink a day for women, about two for men saying it’s a central component of a healthy lifestyle.

But what if it’s all a big mistake?

For some scientists, the question will not go away. No study, these critics say, has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death only that the two often go together. It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.

“The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right — they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately,” said Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has criticized the research. “It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.”

How alcohol damages your brain?

In one study, eight men and seven women drank alcohol through a straw while lying in an MRI scanner, presumably not all together, to see what would happen. It went to their heads. Quickly, the researchers say.

Only 6 minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three beers leading to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.06 percent, which impairs driving ability changes had already taken place in the brain cells.

For one thing, the brain begins to run on the sugar in alcohol instead of using glucose, the normal brain food.

“Our study provides evidence for alternative energy utilization upon alcohol ingestion,” said researcher Armin Biller at Heidelberg University Hospital “The brain uses an alcohol breakdown product instead of glucose for energy demands.”

The concentration of substances such as creatine (energy metabolism), which protect brain cells, decreases as the concentration of alcohol increases. Choline, a component of cell membranes, was also reduced.

“That probably indicates that alcohol triggers changes in the composition of cell membranes,” Biller said.

How to REALLY Boost Your Brain Health

1. Exercise

Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. During exercise nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning. Further, exercise provides protective effects to your brain through:

– The production of nerve-protecting compounds

– Greater blood flow to your brain

– Improved development and survival of neurons

– Decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke

A 2010 study on primates published in Neurosciencei also revealed that regular exercise not only improved blood flow to the brain, but also helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys, a benefit the researchers believe would hold true for people as well.

Still more research has shown that exercise boosts mitochondria, organelles that produce energy within every cell of your body, which suggests exercise may help your brain work faster and more efficiently.

2. Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an omega-3 fat, is an essential structural component of both your brain and retina. Approximately 60 percent of your brain is composed of fats—25 percent of which is DHA. DHA is also an essential structural ingredient of breast milk, which is believed to be a major reason why breastfed babies consistently score higher on IQ tests than formula-fed babies.

Omega-3 fats such as DHA are considered essential because your body cannot produce it, and must get it from your daily diet. DHA-rich foods include fish, liver, and brain—all of which are no longer consumed in great amounts by most Americans.

DHA is found in high levels in your neurons — the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with cholesterol and omega-6 instead. Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised.

The influence of omega-3 fat on physical and mental health has been the subject of intense research over the last four decades, and there’s compelling evidence that animal-based omega-3 fats can help reduce the symptoms of a variety of psychiatric illnesses and degenerative brain disorders. For example, low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Even more exciting is research showing that degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed. For example, in one study, 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.

Another study found significant improvement in verbal fluency scores after taking 800 mg of DHA per day for four months compared with placebo. Furthermore, memory and rate of learning were significantly improved when DHA was combined with 12 mg of lutein per day.

Interestingly, research suggests that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration.

To compensate for our inherently low omega-3 diet, a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement is something that I recommend for virtually everyone, especially if you’re pregnant. I prefer krill oil compared to all other animal-based omega-3′s, because while the metabolic effects of krill oil and fish oil are “essentially similar,” krill oil is as effective as fish oil despite the fact that it contains less EPA and DHA.v This is because krill oil is absorbed up to 10-15 times as well as fish oil, due to its molecular composition, and is less prone to oxidation (rancidity) because it is naturally complexed with the potent fat-soluble antioxidant astaxanthin.

3. Sleep

Sleep is not only essential for regenerating your physical body, but it is imperative for reaching new mental insights and being able to see new creative solutions to old problems. Sleep removes the blinders and helps “reset” your brain to look at problems from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity.

Research from Harvard indicates that people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas after sleeping, but few realize that their performance has actually improved. Sleep is also known to enhance your memories and help you “practice” and improve your performance of challenging skills. In fact, a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.

The process of growth, known as plasticity, is believed to underlie the brain’s capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. Plasticity occurs when neurons are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.

As you might suspect, this holds true for infants too, and research shows that naps can give a boost to babies’ brainpower. Specifically, infants who slept in between learning and testing sessions had a better ability to recognize patterns in new information, which signals an important change in memory that plays an essential role in cognitive development. Even among adults, a mid-day nap was found to dramatically boost and restore brainpower.

4. Coconut Oil

One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy. Your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into the food it needs to survive.

If your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally. This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality.

In effect, your brain can begin to atrophy from starvation if it becomes insulin resistant and loses its ability to convert glucose into energy. Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply, and this is where coconut oil enters the picture.

There’s another substance that can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. It may even restore and renewneuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in.

The substance in question is called ketone bodies or ketoacids. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil! Coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs. Therapeutic levels of MCTs have been studied at 20 grams per day. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.

Everyone tolerates coconut oil differently, so you may have to start slowly and build up to these therapeutic levels. My recommendation is to start with one teaspoon, taken with food in the mornings. Gradually add more coconut oil every few days until you can tolerate four tablespoons. Coconut oil is best taken with food, to avoid upsetting your stomach.

5. Vitamin D

Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have also located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories.

The National Institutes of Mental Health recently concluded that it is vital that the mother get enough vitamin D while pregnant in order for the baby’s brain to develop properly. The child must also get enough vitamin D after birth for “normal” brain functioning. In older adults, too, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit.

Appropriate sun exposure would take care of these issues, as the sun is irreplaceable when it comes to the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Appropriate sun exposure is all it takes to keep your levels where they need to be for healthy brain function. If this is not an option, a safe tanning bed is the next best alternative, followed by a vitamin D3 supplement. It now appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the lowest they should be. Ideally, your serum levels should be between 50-70 ng/ml, and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer and heart disease. However, it’s important to realize that there’s no magic dosage when it comes to vitamin D. What’s important is your serum level, so you need to get your vitamin D levels tested to make sure you’re staying within the optimal and therapeutic ranges as indicated below.

6. Optimize Your Gut Flora

Your gut is your “second brain,” and your gut bacteria transmits information to your brain via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem into your enteric nervous system (the nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract). There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development, and just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain and is linked to mood.

Quite simply, your gut health can impact your brain function, psyche, and behavior, as they are interconnected and interdependent in a number of different ways.

Your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of your body, and as such are heavily dependent on your diet and vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you consume a lot of processed foods and sweetened drinks, for instance, your gut bacteria are likely going to be severely compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and sugars of all kinds feed bad bacteria and yeast. Limiting sugar and processed foods, while eating traditionally fermented foods (rich in naturally occurring good bacteria), taking a probiotic supplement and breastfeeding your baby are among the best ways to optimize gut flora and subsequently support brain health.

7. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, or rather a lack thereof, has been called the “canary in the coalmine” for your future brain health, and recent research has bolstered the importance of this vitamin in keeping your mind sharp as you age. According to the latest research, people with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency were more likely to score lower on cognitive tests, as well as have a smaller total brain volume,ix which suggests a lack of the vitamin may contribute to brain shrinkage.

Mental fogginess and problems with memory are two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency, and this is indicative of its importance for your brain health.

In addition, a Finnish study found that people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years.x For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin) the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent. Research also shows that supplementing with B vitamins, including B12, helps to slow brain atrophy in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (brain atrophy is a well-established characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease).

Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread and many have trouble absorbing this nutrient properly from food sources. Blood tests for vitamin B12 are not always a reliable indicator of B12 status, so watching for symptoms of deficiency and increasing your dietary and supplemental intake is a practical alternative to blood testing.

B12 is available in its natural form only in animal food sources. These include seafood, beef, chicken, pork, milk, and eggs. If you don’t consume enough of these animal products (and I don’t recommend consuming seafood unless you know it is from a pure water source) to get an adequate supply of B12, or if your body’s ability to absorb the vitamin from food is compromised, vitamin B12 supplementation is completely non-toxic and inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of laboratory testing. I recommend an under-the-tongue fine mist spray, as this technology helps you absorb the vitamin into the fine capillaries under your tongue.

8. Listen to Music

It’s long been theorized that listening to music may boost your brainpower; you’ve probably heard of this with the “Mozart Effect,” which suggests listening to classical music can make you smarter. Indeed, research has shown that listening to music while exercising boosted cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills in people diagnosed with coronary artery disease (coronary artery disease has been linked to a decline in cognitive abilities). In this study, signs of improvement in the verbal fluency areas more than doubled after listening to music compared to that of the non-music session.

Listening to music has also been associated with enhanced cognitive functioning and improved mental focus among healthy adults, so take advantage of this simple pleasure whenever you can.

9. Challenge Your Mind

One of the simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning. The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them actually change as you learn. This can take on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, or participating in social and community activities.

Another important method? Brain aerobics. As with learning, challenging your brain with mind-training exercises can keep your brain fit as you age. This can be something as simple as thinking of famous people whose first names begin with the letter A, doing crossword puzzles or playing board games that get you thinking. Research has even shown that surfing the Web activates regions in your brain related to decision-making and complex reasoning. So unlike passively watching TV, using the Internet is an engaging task that may actually help to improve your brainpower.

Giving Up Sugar And Alcohol? What Abstaining From These Treats For Just A Month Can Do To Your Body

We all know that consuming sugar and alcohol in excess is bad for us, but recently the Dutch online television channel LifeHunters showed us just how adverse of an effect these popular treats have on our bodies by doing the unthinkable and going without them for 30 days. Although we learn that doing this is easier said than done, the health benefits may make this challenge worth it.

Before the experiment, our host Sacha gets evaluated by a sports physician who informs him that although his overall health is good, his cholesterol is a little too high. “I’m curious what healthy eating will do,” Sacha tells the audience, eager to begin his fast. Early on in the challenge, Sacha’s enthusiasm begins to fade and we learn that part of what makes giving up sugar so difficult is that the sweet stuff is added to everything we eat. Sacha begins to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and reports that his sugar abstinence has made him constantly hungry and incredibly cranky. However, by the end of the month, not only did Sacha’s cravings subside, but he also reported feeling fitter and having more energy. On a biological level, he loses 8 pounds and his blood pressure fell from 135 to 125.

Along with being interesting, the experiment also had a deeper message. In the United States more than two in three adults is considered to be overweight or obese. Doing something as simple as adopting a diet that includes less sugar and alcohol can significantly increase one’s health in a short amount of time.

What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Too Much Alcohol

alcohol poisoning

Story at-a-glance

  • Generally, women are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning. They feel the effects of alcohol faster than men of the same size. Unfortunately, they’re also more predisposed to suffer from long-term alcohol-induced damage in the body
  • Blood alcohol content (BAC), also called blood alcohol concentration, refers to the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It is expressed as the weight of ethanol measured in grams in 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. BAC can be measured either through a breathalyzer test, a blood test, or a urine test
  • As a rule of thumb, darker and bitter beers have higher alcohol content. Red wines, on the other hand, have higher alcohol content than white wines, except for chardonnay. Also, sweeter wines have less alcohol content. Meanwhile, all clear liquors have 40 percent alcohol content except for grain alcohol. While darker liquors have more alcohol content, like red wine, sweeter variants have less
  • The Standard Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 consider having no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men as moderate drinking

Some people believe that an occasional glass of red wine can benefit your health. Regardless of the merits of this view, too much red wine is a recipe for disaster.

Alcohol can impair decision-making abilities and motor skills. It is frequently a factor in vehicular accidents, violent behaviors, unplanned pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the lethal danger of alcohol poisoning, too, which negatively impacts your health and may even cost you your life if it’s not properly addressed.

In the United States alone, there are estimatedly 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) reported yearly from 2006 to 2010 due to alcohol poisoning, hacking off an average of 30 years on the lives of those who died. 1

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning impairs the body and eventually can shut down the areas of the brain that control basic life-support functions like breathing, heart rate, and temperature control.2

You become more susceptible to alcohol poisoning when you:

  • Binge drink, or consume four or more (women) or 5 or more (men) alcoholic beverages in a single occasion.
  • Drink heavily, or consume eight or more (women) or 15 or more (men) alcoholic beverages per week.
  • Drink during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy due to risks of passing alcohol toxicity through the placenta to your unborn child, which can cause severe damages at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Drink under the age of 21. Underage drinkers are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning as studies have shown that they typically consume about five drinks in a single occasion.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Alcohol poisoning comes with very serious health penalties, which is why it’s very important to be well-informed about what symptoms you need to watch out for. Below are some of the most common telltale signs of alcohol poisoning:3

Loss of coordination Cold, clammy hands, and bluish skin due to hypothermia
Vomiting repeatedly and/or uncontrollably Irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths)
Seizures Confusion, unconsciousness, stupor (or conscious but unresponsive), and sometimes coma

If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 for help immediately.

Alcohol Poisoning Risk Factors

Generally, women are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning. They feel the effects of alcohol faster than men of the same size. Unfortunately, they’re also more predisposed to suffer from long-term alcohol-induced damage in the body. This is due to several physiological reasons, such as: 4

  • Poor ability to dilute alcohol because they have lower body water percentage in the body. The average female only has 52 percent while the average male has 61 percent.
  • Poor ability to metabolize alcohol because they have less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme designed to break down alcohol in the body, than men.
  • Hormones. Premenstrual hormone changes tend to make women get intoxicated more rapidly during the days before their period. Birth control pills and other estrogen-containing medications, on the other hand, slow down the excretion of alcohol from the body.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that men are completely safe from the dangers of alcohol poisoning. Below are a number of other factors that affect your body’s response to alcohol, regardless if you’re male or female:

Food The peak blood alcohol concentration level can be three times higher in people who drink with an empty stomach than in those who had a decent meal before drinking. Food plays a significant role in alcohol absorption in the body because it dilutes the alcohol while slowing down the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine where alcohol is absorbed.
Asian ethnicity Approximately 50 percent of Asians have trouble metabolizing alcohol due to a missing liver enzyme needed to process the substance.
Existing health conditions People with diabetes should be wary of alcohol because it can cause a sudden surge and a dangerous drop in their blood sugar levels. Drinking alcohol may also prevent diabetes prescription drugs from working properly.
Prescription drugs Medications can potentially dull the effects of alcohol, which in turn causes you to drink more than what your body can truly handle.

How much water you drink, how often you drink, your age, and your family history are potential risk factors as well.

Blood Alcohol Content: How Much Is Too Much?

Blood alcohol content (BAC), also called blood alcohol concentration, refers to the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It is expressed as the weight of ethanol measured in grams in 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. BAC can be measured either through a breathalyzer test, a blood test, or a urine test.

For example, a BAC of 0.10 means that 0.10% (one-tenth of one percent) of your blood, by volume, is alcohol. All 50 states have now set .08% BAC as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI conviction nationwide. For those under age 21, there is a zero tolerance limit―any amount of alcohol is grounds for a DUI arrest.5

To calculate your current blood alcohol content, there are free online sites and apps you can try like BloodCalculator.org and iDrinkSmarter. BAC results may vary depending on several variables, which include your gender, personal alcohol tolerance, body weight, and body fat percentage.6

How Much Alcohol Is in Your Drink?

As far as the Standard Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 is concerned, moderate drinking is having no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

Basically, a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, which is usually found in:7

  • 12 ounces of beer (five percent alcohol)
  • Eight ounces of malt liquor (seven percent alcohol)
  • Five ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor like gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey (40 percent alcohol)

Various brands and types of alcoholic beverages come with different alcohol content levels. To have an idea how much alcohol your favorite drink contains, check out this chart below: 8

LIGHT 4.2 percent
REGULAR 4.5 percent
ICE 5.5 percent
ALES 4.5 percent
PORTER/STOUTS 6.5 percent
CHARDONNAY 12.5 percent
RED WINE 13 percent
VODKA 40 percent
GIN 42.5 percent
RUM 45 percent
TEQUILA 45 percent
BRANDY 42 percent
WHISKEY 50 percent

As a rule of thumb, darker and bitter beers have higher alcohol content. Red wines, on the other hand, have higher alcohol content than white wines, except for chardonnay. Also, sweeter wines have less alcohol content. Meanwhile, all clear liquors have 40 percent alcohol content except for grain alcohol. While darker liquors have more alcohol content, like red wine, sweeter variants have less.

Possible Complications

If left untreated, a person suffering from alcohol poisoning can:9

  • Choke on his/her own vomit
  • Be severely dehydrated, which can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death
  • Have slow and irregular breathing, which can eventually stop
  • Have irregular heartbeats, which can eventually stop
  • Have hypothermia
  • Have hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugar), which can lead to seizures

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol in Women

Because a woman’s body has less tolerance for alcohol compared to men, it’s more susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol poisoning. Numerous studies have linked these health consequences to excessive drinking in women, which include:

  • Disrupted menstrual cycle10
  • Increased risk of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery11
  • Higher risk of liver cirrhosis and other alcohol-related liver diseases compared to men12
  • Memory loss and brain shrinkage13
  • Increased risk  of mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast cancer14

Alcohol is also a common risk factor in many cases of sexual assault, particularly among young women. About 1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted each year, and research suggests that there is a higher likelihood of rape or sexual assault when both the victim and the attacker are under the influence of alcohol before the incident.15,16

Dos and Don’ts for Someone Suspected with Alcohol Poisoning

It is not something to be ignored in belief that it will pass and go away the following day. If you believe that someone you know could be suffering from alcohol poisoning, here are some steps that you can do and avoid doing to comfort them while waiting for help:


  • Make sure they remain conscious
  • Keep them hydrated by giving them water
  • Keep them warm
  • Stay with them and never leave them alone
  • Monitor their symptoms
  • Ensure they lie on their side so they won’t choke  on their own vomit


  • Tell them to sleep it off. The blood alcohol content can continue to rise even when they’re not drinking.
  • Give them coffee. This will further dehydrate the person.
  • Instruct them to walk around. This may only cause falls and bumps, which may result in serious injuries, given the brain’s unfit condition.
  • Ask them to take a cold shower. Alcohol lowers your body temperature, and making them feel colder than they already feel could lead to hypothermia.

Lastly, don’t wait for all the symptoms of alcohol poisoning to show up and don’t hesitate to call for emergency medical help immediately. Remember, BAC levels can rise rapidly, and time is of the essence in this situation. Being a minute too late could mean irreversible damage or even death.

How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

It does not take rocket science to know how you can prevent yourself or your friends from suffering from alcohol poisoning. I believe the first step, and probably the most important one, that you can take is to practice self-control. Avoid and discourage your friends from participating in  any alcohol drinking challenge, which is a surefire way to get alcohol poisoning.

However, if you really must have a few drinks, I personally recommend taking this natural protocol beforehand to pretox your body:

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) Take at least 200 milligrams of NAC 30 minutes before you drink to help lessen alcohol’s toxic effects. NAC increases glutathione and reducesacetaldehyde toxicity that causes many hangover symptoms.
B vitamins Alcohol depletes essential B vitamins, which help to eliminate it from the body. NAC is thought to work even better when combined with thiamine, or vitamin B1.
Milk thistle Milk thistle contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants that are known to help protect the liver from toxins, including the effects of alcohol. Not only has silymarin been found to increase glutathione, but it also may help to regenerate liver cells.
Vitamin C Alcohol may deplete your body of vitamin C, which is important for reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver. Make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of vitamin C, either through supplements or citrus fruits, before taking any alcoholic beverage.
Magnesium Magnesium is another nutrient depleted by alcohol, and it’s one that many are already deficient in. Plus, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce some hangover symptoms. If you don’t eat a lot of magnesium-rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement before an evening involving drinking may be helpful.

These pretox measures are imperative for supplying your body with the vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients to protect your liver and assist in the breakdown and removal of alcohol from your system.

Other practical measures that may help include:

  • Staying hydrated – Drink a glass of water along with each alcoholic beverage to help prevent dehydration. At bedtime, drink another large glass of water or two to help stave off hangover symptoms in the morning.
  • Eating before and during drinking – If your stomach is empty, it will speed up the alcohol’s rate of absorption into your body. It may also cause severe stomach irritation. Make it a point to eat a meal before you drink alcohol and nibble on satisfying snacks (such as cheese) while you drink. At the very least, try this old piece of wisdom from the Mediterranean region: take a spoonful of olive oil before drinking alcohol to help prevent a hangover.
  • Replenishing electrolytes – Try drinking coconut water before you go to bed to help reduce hangover symptoms in the morning.
  • Sticking with clear alcohol – Generally, clear liquors (vodka, gin, or white wine) will contain fewer congeners than darker varieties (brandy or whiskey).
  • Stopping once you feel buzzed – When you feel buzzed, it’s a sign that your body’s detoxification pathways are becoming overwhelmed. Take a break from drinking, or quit for the day entirely, to allow your body to metabolize the alcohol effectively.

In addition, I also advise against drinking when you’re feeling down, or worse, depressed, as this can only lead to unconscious and uncontrolled alcohol consumption. Note that alcohol can actually alter your brain chemistry and lower the levels of serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical in your brain, increasing your anxiety and stress instead of reducing it.

Rather than falling into the vicious cycle of alcohol abuse, I recommend addressing your emotional health as soon as possible. Try Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is one of the most effective energy psychology tools for me.