While the occasional alcoholic drink can be enjoyable and is unlikely to cause harm, it’s important to understand the role excess alcohol plays on health and well-being. As much as possible, be mindful of your intake and enjoy in moderation.
How does alcohol affect my health?
Alcohol does have a sedative effect that can help you fall asleep quicker. However, it negatively impacts your overall sleep quality through increased disruptions to the sleep cycle.
Alcohol can weaken your immune system and the effects can last 24 hours after drinking.
Individuals who consume alcohol are more likely to develop heart-related issues compared to those who don’t drink. These conditions include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.
Alcohol promotes inflammation in the body, particularly in the liver. Over time, heavy drinking will affect how the liver is able to function and can even lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, jaundice, and liver cancer.
Alcohol can damage the lining of the digestive tract. It can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It can also prevent the proper digestion of food and the absorption of certain nutrients.
Alcohol affects the normal functioning of the pancreas and liver. This can cause poor blood sugar control leading to both high and low blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, it is important to reduce or eliminate alcohol, and be sure to test your blood sugar levels before, during, and after drinking.
How much is too much?
In general, it is recommended to limit or reduce your alcohol as much as possible. While the occasional glass may be enjoyable, too much is problematic and can promote weight gain, liver disease, heart disease, as well as a number of other health conditions.
The CDC recommends two drinks or less per day for men, and 1 drink or less per day for women. A standard drink is considered: 12 oz beer / 5 oz glass of wine / 1.5 oz hard liquor.
Tips for moderation:
If you’re out in a social setting, alternate your alcoholic beverages with a glass of water. This will help reduce the amount of alcohol you’ll consume, but it also helps keep you hydrated!
Try limiting your alcoholic drinks to weekends only.
Avoid alcohol at home and save for a special occasion or while enjoying an evening out.