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Does Alcohol Use Impact The Immune System?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, on many occasions, I have posted about the “evils” of alcohol usage as this relates to weight control.  Over and beyond the caloric content, alcohol seems to negatively impact on metabolism leading to weight gain/more difficulty in shedding weight.  Additionally, when people are feeling the “buzz”, decision making becomes less stringent, allowing for the consumption of food/snack sources that further harm weight control efforts.

Let’s leave the weight control arena and head to a subject quite prominent these days:  Our immune systems.  Why is it the case that many, many people get exposed to the Covid virus and either manifest no symptoms or very mild symptoms whereas others develop serious disease or even possibly death?   The immune system is paramount in providing a defense that can alter in dramatic ways the outcome of the Covid-19 or any other infection.

Excessive alcohol usage negatively impacts the immune system in several ways:  Damage to the GI tract in terms of protective lining insult and change in the microorganisms that line the GI tract can make it easier for organisms to enter our bodies. Alcohol reduces the function of the immune cells in the lungs leading to an increase potential of developing pneumonia and acute respiratory distress system.  Too much alcohol usage also lowers the counts of our macrophages, T-cells and B-cells, that are important lymphocytes that function in the immune system.

Please notice I used the term “excessive alcohol usage” because mild/moderate alcohol intake probably does not produce any significant immune system impact.  If you have the nightly one glass of wine, beer or mixed drink, you are likely doing no harm at all.  However, if the usage is more robust, why take the chance?

Alcohol usage is up 75% now because of the pandemic.  Let’s not allow alcohol to hurt our immune systems or our overall health due to the negative impact on weight.  The less the better!

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