The immune system is the set of tissues, organs and cells that are responsible for protecting the body against viruses, infections or bacteria. Thus, one of the factors that can influence the functioning of the immune system is the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Health professionals recommend following lifestyle habits that favor the functioning of the immune system, such as eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising regularly or avoiding the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
Avoiding stress and resting properly are also two actions that help improve defenses and proper functioning of the immune system.
How alcohol affects the immune system
Different research works have been able to confirm that excessive alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system and reduce the body's defences. When this happens, the body is more vulnerable to developing different diseases or infections.
Specifically, regular alcohol consumption can reduce the number of peripheral T lymphocytes and also seems to cause the loss of peripheral B lymphocytes, as reported by the 'International Society of Substance Use Professionals'.
It must be taken into account that both lymphocytes are related to the body's defenses and play a key role in the recognition and destruction of infectious organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.
Thus, these changes caused by alcohol consumption in the immune system end up compromising the body's ability to respond to pathogens, thus causing greater susceptibility to diseases. infections, including viral infections.
On the other hand, other research works suggest that excessive alcohol intake also affects the pulmonary defense system, causing changes in the immune function of local cells. In short, alcohol is also especially harmful to the respiratory system.
How much alcohol is harmful?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) is a world reference regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Thus, it ensures that people who drink large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis are more likely to develop diseases than those who do not drink abusively.
Regarding the amount of alcohol that can affect the functioning of the immune system, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define as excessive alcohol consumption the following:
- Eight or more drinks a week in the case of women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.
In this sense, people who consume this proportion of alcoholic beverages have a greater risk of weakening the functioning of their immune system against diseases, infections or viruses.
On the other hand, the CDC indicates that a moderate consumption of alcohol is based on one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, in case they are treated of low alcohol content beverages.
But in any case, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is harmful to the body in general, beyond affecting the functioning of the immune system.