Why Alcoholism Saps Muscle Strength

There are so many ways alcohol and alcoholism can impact your physical health and wellbeing, and just one of those ways pertains to your muscle strength. A few years ago, researchers found a link between muscle weakness in alcoholics and something called mitochondrial disease.

The following highlights details of that research and provides some background information on why alcoholism saps muscle strength and also affects your physical fitness in other ways.

Why Alcoholism Saps Muscle Strength
A study was published a few years ago in The Journal of Cell Biology, where researchers from Thomas Jefferson University found a link between muscle weakness and alcoholism.

Muscle weakness has long been a symptom that long-time alcoholics and people with mitochondrial disease have in common. The relatively new research uncovered what the link in this muscle weakness is, and it’s the fact that these two groups of people have mitochondria that can’t repair themselves.

Mitochondria are organelles that are responsible for producing energy across our bodies. They create the energy our muscles, brain and other cells need, and in healthy people with normal levels of function, they repair themselves by fusing with other mitochondria. When they fuse together, they exchange contents, and the damaged parts of the mitochondria are recycled and replaced with proteins that work properly by the healthy mitochondria.

There has been an ongoing understanding by researchers that fusion is an essential component of normal muscle functioning, and much of this came from looking at how two particular diseases impact the mitochondria which are Autosomal Dominant Optical Atrophy Disease and a type of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. Symptoms of both of these diseases include muscle weakness, and people that suffer from these conditions have a mutation in one of the three specific genes that play a role in the fusion of mitochondria.

During the research at Thomas Jefferson University, a system was created in lab rats to see how mitochondrial interacted and fused with one another.

Since a symptom of long-term alcoholism is frequently a loss of muscle strength, they looked at how an alcohol diet would impact the process, and when this was introduced, the rat’s number of certain mitochondrial fusion proteins went down significantly, and there was also a huge decrease in the fusion of mitochondria.

The researchers concluded that alcohol has a certain impact on one particular gene that plays an essential role in mitochondrial fusion and repair. Conclusions of the research also pointed to the fact that it’s not just drinking that physically weakens alcoholics, but it’s also the sustained effects of the alcohol on the body’s ability to repair itself.

While it may all sound scientific, it confirms what’s been known for some time in the general sense, and that’s the fact that alcoholism saps muscle strength. While doctors have seen a loss of muscle strength in alcoholics for quite some time, this groundbreaking research offered one of the first glimpses into why this happens.

In addition to looking at why alcoholism saps muscle strength and how alcoholism saps muscle strength, it can also be important to consider how it affects overall fitness levels.

There are so many ways alcohol, even if you’re only a casual drinker, affects your ability to be physically fit. First, alcohol is a diuretic, so when you drink it dehydrates you, and if you exercise during this time, you’ll be dehydrated further, which is not only dangerous but also reduces your performance level.

Alcohol, in addition to sapping muscle strength, also impacts how your body creates energy. When you’re breaking down alcohol, your liver isn’t able to produce as much glucose, which keeps your blood sugar levels low, and you won’t be able to exercise at the same level you would be able to ordinarily.

There’s another reason why alcoholism saps muscle strength as well. First, your body isn’t meant to store sugar, so when you drink a lot, particularly over the long-term your body tries to get rid of the sugar stores from alcohol as quickly as possible. This then interferes with other processes such as how your body absorbs nutrients and burns fat, which can impact muscle gain.

Additionally, when you drink it can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns, which then disturbs growth hormones that are necessary for muscle growth, and it can reduce the amount of hormones in your blood.

There are so many reasons why alcoholism saps muscle strength and also affects your ability to exercise and physically perform. Some of these impacts are seen almost immediately, for example, you may notice you don’t feel well the day after drinking, but others occur over the long-term. Your body not only loses its ability to heal itself but all of your natural processes including the release of hormones and fat burning are interrupted.

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