There is a significant connection between drinking alcohol and the disease rheumatoid arthritis.
People who suffer from this disease lead a difficult life due to continuous pain and inflammation.
Some say that alcohol harms the patient by further increasing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis while others say that alcohol can improve the condition and make the person feel better.
In this article, we will go through both sides of the argument based on scientific studies in order to reach a conclusion.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease which involves inflammation or swelling of the joints.
A joint is made up of two bones connected with the help of various tissues.
These tissues swell and result in pain in the affected joint. This condition is mainly observed in people belonging to the older age groups.
Arthritis can be of various types such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gouty arthritis, etc.
What is Rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a crippling autoimmune disorder.
This is a type of arthritis which develops due to abnormal functioning of the immune system.
Because of this, the cells of the immune system start to kill the body’s own tissues.
In this case, they lead to the degeneration of the tissues present between the joints such as cartilage, tendons, ligaments and the synovial lining.
Although the reason as to why this happens has not been understood yet, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease and does not have a permanent cure.
However, the symptoms of the disorder can be prevented or treated to an extent to provide relief to the patient.
Women are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than men.
What Are The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption On The Body?
Alcohol is an organic compound which is commonly consumed by people in the form of various beverages. It is produced by the fermentation of sugar with the help of yeast.
It has been identified as one of the major causes of diseases and death.
This is because alcohol has a number of negative effects on the functioning of the human body.
It deteriorates the organs and the organ systems, causing damage to the body.
Some major effects of the consumption of alcohol on the body are –
People who drink alcohol on a regular basis find themselves getting easily addicted to it. This happens because they may feel happy and relaxed after drinking.
However, it has several negative long terms and short term effects on the body.
The liver is supposed to remove all the toxins from the body, including alcohol. When too much of alcohol enters the body, the liver gets damaged.
The symptoms of liver damage include disorders like jaundice (yellow pigmentation of the skin) and cirrhosis (damaged cells of the liver).
Along with these, this leads to an accumulation of the toxins in the body.
Consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol results in impaired functioning of the pancreas.
The toxic substances produced due to this produce inflammation which leads to a disease known as pancreatitis.
Alcohol leads to the development of ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. It causes an increase in the production of acids, which erode the lining and cause ulcers.
Central nervous system damage
Alcohol can cause severe negative effects on the brain and central nervous system. It hampers the ability to think and make rational decisions.
Along with this, people find it hard to maintain their balance and talk properly when drunk.
They also experience memory loss. Long term effects of these are dangerous to the health as it can damage the brain permanently.
People who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk because their blood sugar levels may dangerously increase in alcohol intake.
Studies report that moderate alcohol consumption may actually help in decreasing the risk of diabetes mellitus, while excessive intake may increase the risk.
Chronic drinking of alcohol causes arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), high blood pressure and stroke and increases the chances of heart failure.
A low to moderate intake of alcohol improves the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also helps in the management of hypertension.
If taken in right amounts, it may even prevent diseases like ischemic heart disease and atherosclerosis.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are dangerous to health. It causes irritability, anxiety, stress, seizures and even hallucinations.
Can Alcohol Reduce The Risk Of Developing Arthritis?
Despite the severe deteriorating effects of alcohol on the body, research and various studies have found that alcohol may prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
This would benefit the patients of arthritis.
One study suggests that drinking alcohol is protective of rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol was found to be inversely associated with the disease.
Alcohol may prevent other types of arthritis as well.
How does alcohol affect women?
Women are less likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis if they increase their alcohol intake up to a moderate amount.
Long term effects of alcohol include a significant decrease in the risk of this disease in women.
How much alcohol is okay?
A study on the effect of alcohol on people reported that an increased reduction in the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is linked with those who consumed a low to moderate amount of alcohol on a regular basis.
This is prevalent in both men and women.
The positive effect of alcohol on rheumatoid arthritis does not mean that it is true in all cases.
Excessive alcohol consumption has been found to be linked to the progression of this condition by further damaging the joints.
How Does Alcohol Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Alcohol has many direct and indirect effects on the disease.
Alcohol and arthritis medication
The most commonly used medicines for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are the NSAIDs or the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The medicines which are supposed to reduce the symptoms of arthritis may react with alcohol to produce undesired results.
Drinking combined with these drugs may cause bleeding inside the gastrointestinal tract. This includes stomach bleeding as well.
Another effect of this on the gastrointestinal tract is that it leads to the formation of ulcers on the gastrointestinal lining.
Addition of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs enhances the effects of alcohol and vice versa. It damages the liver at a higher rate than with alcohol alone.
One study suggests that it may even lead to acute kidney failure.
Alcohol and weight gain
Obesity is a risk in people with rheumatoid arthritis. When more body weight falls on the affected joint, the pain and the swelling increase.
This does not allow the disease to get better. Alcohol significantly contributes to weight gain.
Alcohol and bone density
Though chronic alcohol intake is associated with an increase in the bone loss, drinking at a moderate level actually favors the increase of bone density.
This makes the bones strong and less likely to degenerate because of arthritis.
Alcohol and malnourishment
Ingestion of alcohol in excess amount can lead to malnourishment. This happens because of little intake of the essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Another reason for this may be that alcohol prevents the absorption of these nutrients in the body.
It flushes out the necessary nutrients from the body including vitamin A, vitamin B12, folic acid, and sodium, etc.
Alcohol and dehydration
Alcohol causes diuresis (increased production of urine), which leads to the loss of water from the body causing dehydration.
Dehydration makes the muscles and other tissues of the body stiff. The joints of the body also stiffen and the pain increases.
Alcohol and immunity
Acute alcohol consumption is as effective as chronic consumption in order to damage the functioning of the immune system.
The system weakens and gives rise to various diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.
How does alcohol help?
People who already suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may drink to suppress the sensation of pain.
Due to the lag in the advancement of the disease because of drinking, the patients decrease their alcohol intake.
This happens because they feel better and at ease, so don’t feel the need to engage themselves in such activities, as reported by a study.
Alcohol has been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects. This is beneficial, especially in the case of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Do Other Beverages Help In Reducing The Risk Of Arthritis?
There are other drinks which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial for arthritis patients.
Drinking tea has several advantages on the health of a person. Black tea, white tea, and green tea are the three types.
Green tea contains an ingredient known as Epigallocatechin 3-gallate ( EGCG). This substance consists of anti-rheumatic properties. This means that they can treat rheumatism.
Studies report that EECG contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. It helps in reducing the inflammation of the joints.
Tea has also been linked with an increase in the bone mineral density. Chemical substances such as flavonoids are responsible for this property. It lowers the risk of osteoarthritis.
Coffee may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by contributing to the production of rheumatoid factor. Rheumatoid factors are responsible for attacking the healthy cells of the body.
It is believed that the caffeine present in coffee reverses the effect of methotrexate, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
But according to some studies, this assumption is not true.
Fruits like tart cherries contain anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties. Tart cherry juice acts in the same way as any NSAID would.
It improves the pain in muscles and joints if taken on a regular basis.
Studies show that pomegranate contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Pomegranate juice can also be helpful in the case of arthritis.
Beetroot juice is also considered very healthy for the body. Apart from several other advantageous compounds, it contains anti-inflammatory effects too.
Resveratrol is a substance found in red wine. It prevents the cartilage present in the joints from further degeneration. This also decreases inflammation.
Due to this, it is helpful in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Alcohol consumption is not entirely detrimental to health.
Some precautions need to be taken seriously for alcohol to show a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. In excess, it loses the benefits and becomes pro-inflammatory.
Drinking regularly is harmful to health as it can lead to alcohol abuse and the person can become dependent and addicted to it.
Alcohol is more dangerous for women since they are more prone to developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Drugs such as narcotic analgesics, muscle relaxants, and sleep medications should be avoided after or before drinking. They strengthen the negative effects of alcohol on the body.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided during alcohol consumption. These drugs may combine with alcohol and worsen the health condition.
Even though most studies prove that alcohol increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and worsens the condition, some studies report that it may show some positive results when consumed in a low to moderate quantity.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem.
It causes damage to the organs of the body and impairs their normal functioning. People should see a doctor immediately to stop alcohol abuse without severe withdrawal symptoms.
People should see a doctor immediately to stop alcohol abuse without severe withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol should always be consumed in a moderate amount, especially if a person is suffering from a disease.
A healthy lifestyle should be adopted consisting of sufficient rest, meeting daily nutrient requirements and keeping oneself hydrated.