She was a young woman who had just given birth to her first child few days ago. Some of her friends had advised her that she should drink some alcohol everyday as it will stimulate production of breast milk. Knowing that alcohol is bad, she was in a fix as what to do and sought consultation.
This is one of the several myths prevalent about so called beneficial effects of alcohol. Perhaps, these have been advertised by ardent lovers of alcohol to justify their drinking.
One of the most popular beliefs regarding alcohol is that it relaxes the mind refreshing it. People do not realize that what they experience is result of addiction to alcohol. When they take alcohol regularly, body cells become habituated to it. If they do not get alcohol over 12-24 hours, they feel restless and anxious, but after drinking it, they feel good, what is interpreted it as relaxation.
As soon as alcohol is consumed, it passes to the brain via blood and has effect on brain. It can cause either excitation or depression of the brain cells which is manifested by undue excitation, garrulousness, crying or any such kind of abnormal behavior after taking binge of alcohol.
Another well-liked myth about alcohol which I have encountered many times is that it supplies energy to the body. Some persons even told me that to keep one’s strength with advancing age it is good to drink alcohol. People with such thoughts should know the fact that alcohol does supply calories in the form of glucose to the body but no nutrients whatsoever. These calories accelerate the process of deposition of fat over blood vessels, increasing risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Diabetes is also precipitated and augmented due to this effect. Central obesity is caused in many individuals due to alcohol which leads to many problems including that of heart. Moreover it depletes the body of vitamin B. complex, affecting nerves. One habituated to alcohol usually loses his appetite, skips food or does not eat in adequate quantity, resulting in malnutrition.
Some argue that alcohol provides warmth to the body, hence useful to drink during cold nights. But all what alcohol does is that it opens up blood vessels of the body slightly, causing a sense of flushing. Due to its effect on the brain, a person feels good after drinking it, that’s all but in reality the body is not protected by cold in any way.
About the issue of promoting breast milk production, a lactating woman needs to know that taking adequate amounts of any liquid, even milk, tea or coffee will increase the quantity of breast milk. Alcohol has multiple hazardous effects on the body, hence among many liquid drinks; it is not a wise or safe choice to take alcohol for this purpose.
It is said to have beneficial effect in preventing and treating kidney stones. But one should understand clearly, that drinking a good amount of any liquid substance including water has the same beneficial effect on kidney function. Motive is to form and pass adequate quantity of urine. This ensures removal of all potentially toxic substances from the body, via kidneys. Alcohol while serving this function will also harm the body in many ways.
It was postulated earlier that alcohol has some beneficial effects on heart and prevents heart attacks. But no scientific evidence has been found for it. Alcohol opens up the blood vessels of the body including that of the heart. Due to this, there is some increase in the blood flowing towards the heart. On the other hand, it increases risk of deposition of fats in the inner lining of vessels including coronaries, i.e. vessels of the heart, hastens formation of clots inside arteries, augments diabetes and hypertension. All these increase risk of heart attacks manifold, thus negating the marginal presumed advantage on the heart.
A person habituated to alcohol should know very clearly that though he enjoys drinking and feels good afterwards, he is inviting many health related problems with passing of time.