Get the Measure!
Alcohol affects the whole body and drinking too much can play a role in numerous serious medical conditions.
While drinking below the recommended daily limits means the risks of damaging your health through alcohol are low, cutting down the amount you regularly drink even further is great for your general health and fitness as well as saving you lots of money.
Recently a group of MPs recommended greater efforts to help people understand the unit guidelines and how to use them.
To avoid damaging their health women shouldn’t exceed 2-3 and men 3-4 units of alcohol daily. Bear in mind, for example, that a pint of premium beer is likely to contain 3 units and a 250ml glass of wine 2 units and you will realise this allowance isn’t as generous as you might think.
Another sobering thought is that each single unit of alcohol takes one full hour to be processed by the body. So an average bottle of wine will take 9 or 10 hours to be processed by the liver and exit the body. This is why the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is recommending people should be advised to have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Alcohol free days are a great way to contribute to a healthier lifestyle and cut down on your overall drinking. It also gives your liver time to recover.
Having a couple of days off alcohol a week, however, doesn’t mean you can safely drink more for the rest of the time. Even with days off alcohol, you still should not drink more than the recommended daily amount and you should never binge drink. Binge drinking not only risks your personal safety but can damage your health including increasing your chance of a heart attack.
Maria Callaghan, a Health Improvement Specialist with NHS North Lincolnshire, stresses how important it is to always be aware how many units of alcohol you are drinking.
“Most of us drink sensibly and suffer little effects,” Maria explains. “But if someone is starting to drink above the recommended rate they may find their energy levels begin to suffer and they risk problems like memory loss, depression, insomnia, impotence as well as putting themself in danger of injury.
“As alcohol intake increases further so does the risk of relationship problems, alcohol dependence, high blood pressure, liver disease and even cancer!”
There are lots of tools available to help you keep an eye on the units you’re drinking. For example, visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Alcoholtracker.aspx for a useful unit calculator and lots of tips how to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. There is even an App you can download for your iPhone to help you keep track of your drinks on a night out.
- News Added: 24 January 2012