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A Healthy Guide To Alcohol And Drinking

How many units of alcohol do you drink in a week?

Now, you have answered that question before. “Oh, probably too many, Doctor”, you said, shuffling a little in your seat. “A few glasses during the week with dinner and couple more at the weekend”, said most of my honest clients during their first fitness assessment test. In total, let’s say 15 units.

This doesn’t sound right, not to the doctor sitting opposite you or any fitness coach who has heard it all before. When people are asked to self-assess the amount of alcohol they’ve had, they underestimate by an average of 40 percent, and those 15 units just became 21 units.

So this time, be honest. How many units of alcohol do you drink in a week? A quick refresher; roughly speaking, one pint of beer is three units, a small glass of wine is two and a half units, and a double gin and tonic is two units. If your answer is more than 14 units per week then bad news: you’re drinking too much! Alcohol has an effect on the liver, gut, gullet, the breast, and the prostate. And yet, while most of us know that alcohol is bad for us, we drink on regardless.

The mid-lifers, in particular, seem to be numb to the advice. One of the problems with older people is that they tend to assume that because they are not going out and getting drunk like youngsters, they are alright. We also tend to get better at drinking as the years pass, putting more away in one sitting without feeling drunk. Another issue might be conflicting research in the public domain. One minute, some studies suggest alcohol can have positive effects, such as a glass of wine a day (moderate drinking) can decrease the risk of dying by roughly 20 percent, can lower your cholesterol levels and protect your heart. But that’s not the bigger picture. While the red wine might help to prevent blood clots in your heart, the drinks’ high calorie and alcohol content will be doing their own damage elsewhere.

Can I eat my way to a better relationship with alcohol?


One tip for a healthier relationship with alcohol is to drink when eating and not to drink when you haven’t eaten. If you don’t eat you will get drunk really quickly. Alcohol goes into your stomach, gets metabolised, and enters your bloodstream. If your stomach is full with food, then it’s going to take longer to digest the alcohol. This doesn’t lessen the long-term effect of the alcohol, your liver still has to process it but it means you will feel the intoxicating effects more slowly and therefore less likely to put yourself in short-term danger.

So how can we use our diet to ease the impact of a night out?

One idea is to plan ahead and stock your kitchen with healthy food that will promote a good night’s sleep. Food that contains tryptophan, an amino acid can help you sleep. Turkey meat is an example; a bowl of oats with a plain sugar-free yogurt or milk is another. Another classic tip is to keep drinking water. It’s not that alcohol dehydrates, it’s that you are losing more water because you are urinating more. But don’t go overboard downing pints of water the next day because that could send your body into shock and risk complications.

In this article:
Healthy Drinking
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