Photo: Tambako the Jaguar (flickr)
Most everyone knows that alcohol impairs mental and physiological functions, but what actually goes on at the cellular level when you drink a beer?
So… What Happens?
Alcohol interferes with the normal function of your brain cells.
Under normal circumstances, each of your brain cells allows various substances, such as sodium, calcium and potassium to permeate its outer cell membrane.
Once inside the brain cell, these substances help give the cell stimulus it needs to function properly. Then they leave the cell and allow another set of these substances to begin the cycle again.
The millions of cells that make up your brain are continually allowing these substances to penetrate their membranes and then expelling these same substances later. All of this action allows the brain to interpret and transport messages.
Alcohol consumption prevents sodium from being able to cross brain cell membranes. Once even this part of the cycle breaks down, brain functions become impaired.
You can notice the affects of this break down after a single drink. Even if you’ve had just one drink, your ability to respond to stimulus decreases and your reaction time slows down.
If you’re driving, you might see a car stop, and know that you need to slam on the brakes, but the pathway in your brain that processes this information and causes you to respond to it will be working in slow motion.