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Nutritionist reveals what alcohol REALLY does to your stomach, brain and liver - and reveals her tricks to help your body repair after a heavy night

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 24/02/2019 Sarah Finley For Mailonline

Close up of a woman tasting a glass of white wine in autumn vineyard © Getty Close up of a woman tasting a glass of white wine in autumn vineyard Most people are familiar with the effects of alcohol - dry skin, brittle hair and a banging headache - but few of us give much thought to the long-term health implications.

According to nutritionist Gabriela Peacock of GP Nutrition, excessive drinking can not only cause short-term problems like an upset stomach and a dry mouth, it can also have a devastating impact on our brain, stomach and liver.

Alcohol can have long-term effects on our mind too, contributing to depression and ruining sleep patterns. 

Here, she explains what you should think twice before pouring that next glass of wine - and how to prepare the body for less of a shock the next day.

The liver 

© Getty This organ helps to detoxify the body and process any chemicals, so if its being damaged by alcohol this could have detrimental effect on our bodies, says Gabriela.

'Chronic alcohol use can irreversibly damage the liver and its ability to function and increases the risk of inflammation of the liver and liver disease.

'Scar tissue is formed, known as cirrhosis. It is this scar tissue which can destroy the liver.'

Your mind

Sad depressed woman at home sitting on the couch, looking down and touching her forehead, loneliness and pain concept © Getty Sad depressed woman at home sitting on the couch, looking down and touching her forehead, loneliness and pain concept Excessive alcohol misuse can damage the the central nervous system, Gabriela warns.

'Long term exposure cause longer term frontal lobe damage to the brain affecting emotions, short term memory and coordination.

'While alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood and cause us to lose inhibitions and feel relaxed, in the long term it can cause big problems for our mental health,' says Gabriela.

'The brain relies on a delicate balance of chemicals. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt that balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions – and sometimes our long-term mental health.'

Sleep  

Sad pensive teenager listening to music in a bar in the night and looking at side © Getty Sad pensive teenager listening to music in a bar in the night and looking at side Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish.

'When you drink alcohol before bed you may fall into deep sleep quicker,' Gabriela admits. 'This is why some people find drinking alcohol helps them drop-off to sleep. 

'But as the night goes on you spend more time in this deep sleep and less time than usual in the more restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.

'Drinking can also cause more vivid dreams and more frequent trips to the loo which can disrupt sleep.'

Your stomach   

© Getty Most hangovers leave us reaching for fatty carbs, Gabriela explains: 'The metabolism of alcohol can alter blood sugar balance by depleting your storage of glycogen, or carbohydrates. Glycogen is your body’s preferred source of energy.

'So after you’ve used up most of your available glycogen stores to metabolise all that booze, you need more. As a result, you start to feel hungry.

'Since glycogen comes from carbs, you might find yourself with a particular craving for things like bread and sugar.'

Gabriela also explains why it makes us so dehydrated too: 'Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose extra fluid though sweat too, making you dehydrated.

'While many people report that excess alcohol consumption results in bouts of diarrhoea.'

How to repair our bodies  

Healthy eating, assortment of fruits and vegetables in rainbow colours background, top view, selective focus © Getty Healthy eating, assortment of fruits and vegetables in rainbow colours background, top view, selective focus Gabriela advises to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet when you're hungover.

'Try adding spinach to your smoothies, make wraps with lettuce or snack on kale chips. While you should also ditch wheat, white flour, pastries, ice cream and excessive sugar.

'Hydrate too, especially if you have had one too many alcoholic drinks. Water is invaluable for flushing toxins out of the body, promoting proper waste metabolism and circulation.'

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