Ever since that day in the Garden when Eve saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was "good for food," the power of appetite has exerted a powerful influence on mankind. It is Satan's studied effort to work at cross purposes with God, seeking to remove all trace of the divine likeness in man. Working through the strength of appetite, he has led men and women to indulge themselves in things which dull the intellect, becloud the reasoning, and damage the vital life force. It is not possible for anyone to attain to the standard of excellence they might otherwise reach, while they are indulging in health destroying practices, or mind altering drugs.
Anciently, there was no hard liquor as we know it today. Yeast cells, which are responsible for the fermentation process, are themselves destroyed when the concentration of alcohol reaches about 14%. Not until the invention of the still in the fifteenth century could the concentration be increased by distillation to the level reached in whiskey, rum, brandy, vodka, and similar beverages.
The alcohol content of wines and distilled liquors is generally expressed in percent by volume. The proof number is twice the percent of alcohol, by volume. In other words, a 100-proof whiskey is 50% pure alcohol.
The high diffusibility and complete solubility of alcohol facilitates its passage into the blood and its distribution to the tissues. The blood and the brain are largely water and very quickly alcohol reaches an equilibrium in them; but skeletal muscles take about an hour to absorbe sufficient blood to do so, especially when the body is resting. As muscles comprise about one-third of the body mass, there is a period of time when the initial concentration in the blood and brain is high. The sobering up process is partially due to the absorption of alcohol in the muscle, decreasing the concentration in the vital tissues.
About 2% of the alcohol that is ingested is excreted through the kidneys and lungs, but 90% is metabolized by the liver. The liver does not store alcohol but burns it as rapidly as possible. As a result, liver disease is a growing medical problem the world over. Fatty liver is an accumulation of fat in the liver cells that can result from drinking even less than intoxicating amounts.
Liver cirrhosis is hardening of the liver by the formation of fibrous tissue. It is estimated that 8% of chronic alcoholics develop cirrhosis in contrast with 1% among nonalcoholics. Cessation of alcohol intake may result in some reversal of this condition.
Studies have shown that diet is a contributing factor to alcohol dependency. A diet that is of poor quality, lacking in a full range of necessary food elements, and which includes spicy foods and coffee has been shown in laboratory animals to substantially increase their interest in alcohol.
Alcohol is a contributing factor in 50% of the deaths due to automobile accidents; in both drivers and pedestrians who drink. With a .1% blood alcohol, a driver is seven times more likely to cause a fatal accident than with no alcohol. If this amount of blood alcohol is doubled, he is 100 times more likely to do so.
The man who, next to Christ, was most noted for his wisdom, said, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." Proverbs 20:1. Alcohol is a deceptive drug. It first acts upon the higher nerve centers, removing the inhibitions while it gives a false sense of superiority. As the process of intoxication progresses, it depresses the nerve centers, slowing motor activity, and finally immobilizing the victim. How true was Solomon's assessment when he also said, "Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper." Proverbs 23:31, 32
The more closely the laws of health are observed, the more clearly can the mind discern the value of eternal things.
The use of tobacco is a habit which affects the nervous system and in many cases is more difficult to overcome than alcohol dependency. The health-destroying effects are not so immediately obvious, for it is a more subtle poison. Its use very often lays the foundation for the liquor habit.
Tobacco, like other stimulants and narcotics, works to lessen the physical strength; and whatever affects the body will also affect the mind. While a stimulant may for a time seem to raise the energy level, when its stimulating influence wears off, both mind and body are in a worse condition than before.
Of the many different substances found in tobacco smoke, several are recognized as being serious health hazards.
As smoke is drawn into the mouth, it is a concentrated aerosol loaded with small particles. As it cools, it condenses to form a tar which is deposited in the air passages of the lungs. The amount condensed varies greatly and will depend upon the brand smoked, but it is highly carcinogenic.
This is a highly poisonous alkaloid; and in an adult, 60 mg is the average fatal dose. The average cigarette can yield 6-8 mg of nicotine. The amount absorbed depends largely on the manner of smoking. Ninety percent of the nicotine of inhaled smoke is absorbed, while only 20-25% of that drawn into the mouth and expelled without being inhaled is absorbed. The symptoms of acute poisoning include headache, dizziness, mental confusion, and marked weakness. These may be followed by an increased rate of breathing and a rise in blood pressure.
The entire respiratory canal is self-cleaning. Among the most effective cleansing mechanisms of the respiratory system are the hair-like cilia that line the walls of the respiratory canal. Hydrogen cyanide, along with acrolein, both of which are found in tobacco smoke, are powerful cilia-toxins. These gases interfere with the function of the cilia and other cleansing mechanisms of the lungs and appear to have the greatest toxic effect on the defense mechanism of all the agents identified in the gaseous state of smoke.
This is a colorless, odorless gas that has a very strong combining power to the hemoglobin of the red blood cells. The hemoglobin is the element in the blood that transports the oxygen to the cells. By its high attraction for the hemoglobin, carbon monoxide readily replaces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, depleting the supply available to the cells. As the oxygen requirement of the brain, as well as the heart, is very high, the efficiency of both organs is reduced by smoking.
The tar and nicotine of tobacco smoke were early branded as being the most significant contributors to lung cancer. Much effort, therefore, was put into the development of filters that reduced these substances. Some were so successful that they let little but hot air through. Unfortunately, these cigarettes did not give satisfaction and did not sell well. Often the smoker, either by more rapid or deeper inhalation, will still get the desired quota.
Though they tend to reduce the nicotine and tar intake, filter brands have been shown to generally increase the amount of poisonous gases. The highest producers of carbon monoxide are all filter brands.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 70% of all coronary deaths are sudden, which means that death occurs before the patient reaches the hospital. Cigarette smoking has a significant influence on the development of severe atherosclerosis which is the long-term underlying cause of such deaths. The sudden deaths among men who smoke, as compared to nonsmokers is approximately 3:1. With women, however, the rate is 9:1
Tea and coffee produce an immediate effect on the body. Under their influence the nervous system is stimulated. Because the results produced seem so agreeable, many conclude that they really need them. With this action, however, there is always a reaction. The nervous system has borrowed power from its future resources for present use, and this temporary energizing effect is followed by a corresponding depression. The suddenness of the effect obtained from tea and coffee is an evidence that what seems to be strength is only nervous excitement, and must eventually result in injury to the system. In addition, these stimulants foster the appetite for yet stronger stimulants.
The illusionary effect of coffee is to apparently increase the energy level without dependence on relaxation, rest, or increasing muscle power. The brain is also stimulated to a more rapid flow of thought until the excitement subsides, then depression and fatigue follow.
In laboratory tests, spiders that were given doses of caffeine continued to spin webs, but their web design was so distorted as to have little resemblance to the symmetry of a normal web. In all other appearances, however, these spiders appeared normal. It took several days without caffeine to completely restore their web-spinning skill.
Coffee also stimulates the production of stomach acid. In those who had ulcers, the increase was greater and lasted longer than for those who did not. Even decaffeinated coffee appeared to be as potent a gastric acid stimulator as regular or instant coffee.
Coffee also acts as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine flow. A larger volume of urine is produced from coffee than from an equal amount of water. It also increase substances in the kidneys which tend to raise the blood pressure.
Even coffee with the caffeine removed still contains tannin. Tannin acts as an astringent on the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and can contribute to constipation and digestive disturbances.
Coffee drinking has been shown to increase blood cholesterol. Of significance to diabetics is its tendency to raise the blood sugar.
The body needs fluids, but coffee and other caffeine drinks are a poor substitute for water. Though pleasing for their aroma and taste, these beverages present real health problems. Not only are they drugs that stimulates vital body systems, leading to a let-down feeling, but they borrow from the future, tapping into the body's vital reserves. In addition, they have adverse effects on the circulatory, digestive, and urinary systems, preparing the way for disease and, in the end, shortening the life expectancy. Why not substitute other pleasing beverages that are drug free. These include a variety of cereal beverages, certain herb teas, and fruit juices. Taken at the appropriate times, these beverages afford a pleasing drink without the undesirable effects that coffee, tea, and cola beverages have. In addition, they can be a source of important nutrients, none of which are available in coffee or tea.
Only one lease of life is granted us, and it is largely within our power to determine what we will make of it. On the one hand, health may be enjoyed by proper habits of life and may be made to yield interest and compound interest. This capital, more precious than wealth, may be squandered and lost by intemperance in eating and drinking. The surrender of hurtful indulgences always requires a sacrifice; but in the end, it will be found to pay dividends in health of both body and mind.
Copyright © 1995 by Jack Kendall
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