Why you should drink less alcohol this holiday season
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect and it can be addictive. Short term effects of alcohol include intoxication, dehydration, and poisoning if consumed in enough quantity. In excessive quantities, alcohol is capable of damaging many organs and important body systems. Long term effects include changes to liver metabolism, addiction, damage to the central nervous system and increased cancer risk including breast, colon and liver cancer and also cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.
Excessive alcohol consumption is related to an increased risk of hypertension and liver disease as well as high levels of triglycerides (blood fat) that increase the risk of heart disease and pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas). Alcohol increases inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to neurodegenerative disease, as well as cancer and heart disease.
Alcohol also provides “empty” calories with little nutritional value, which often promotes weight gain and leads to additional health problems. Interestingly however, alcohol consumed in moderation is associated with some health benefits, including the reduction of heart disease risk through the raising of protective HDL cholesterol. This is a fine line however, and one that should not be crossed.
How to do it:
There is a consensus in medical and scientific circles that alcoholic beverage consumption should be limited to a maximum of 7-9 drinks per week for women and 14 drinks per week for men, not exceeding 1-2 drinks daily. A “drink” is considered to be 12 ounces (341 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (142ml) of wine or 1.5 ounces (43 ml) of spirits. Try these simple tips for limiting your alcohol consumption this holiday season:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic, low-sugar alternatives such as sparkling water infused with lime, cucumber, mint, or pomegranate seeds
- Decrease your “pour” by using a smaller glass and a lot of ice cubes
- Opt for a white wine spritzer (1 part white wine, 1 part sparkling water) vs. white wine
- Choose beers with lower alcohol & sugar content
- Always choose a calorie-free mixer such as soda water, and flavour your drinks with a slice of fresh fruit or a small splash of all-natural fruit juice