Me and alcohol don’t mix for a lot of reason. One of the biggest is that I have an over-reactive immune system and alcohol seems to set it off. I didn’t make the connection until after I stepped on and off the wagon a few times. I labored over articles on the web trying to find evidence linking to two. I kept coming up short. I found tons of articles about moderation, and even some that touted anti-inflammatory benefits of alcohol (whhhaaat??), but nothing that said our system views alcohol as the enemy. That is, until now. These articles are written in nerdanese so it’s a wonder I was even able to translate them. The power of determination wins again, my friends.
I’ll attempt to summarize. When our body breaks down alcohol it turns it into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. The acetaldehyde then attaches to proteins in our body and creates what is a called an adduct. This triggers an immune system response. Antibodies mark the adduct for destruction. Most of the time, antibodies recognize the difference between the original proteins and the adducts and leave the original proteins alone. Most of the time. It stands to reason then that there are times when the antibodies can’t differentiate between the two. And when that happens, I imagine the over-reactive immune response can make someone pretty darn sick. The way I see it, not only are your protein cells being destroyed by way of this process. But if you have an autoimmune disorder your antibodies can really beat down the proteins in your body. Google symptoms of low hemoglobin, lysine and collagen (all favorite targets for acetaldehyde). You’ll be amazed at what you find. I know I was. I’m fairly certain that when I was an active drinker I was deficient in all of them.
I could be reading too much into all this. But I’m excited to find something that kind of explains away how I felt when I was a drinker. I also found an article linking modified cells (such as these adducts) and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Again, super nerdy but it’s there. It’s amazing what you can find when you dig beyond the alcohol sponsored mainstream media articles, and start looking instead for science based articles on how our bodies react to alcohol. If you search for “Alcohol adducts” or “alcohol acetaldehyde” you’ll be amazed at the journals, reviews and findings.
The first article really gets into how alcohol affects the liver. I was looking specifically for immune system reactions but definitely found a ton about alcohol impact to the liver. Yowzers.
Happy Nerding! Stay sober! 🙂