Alcohol is all well and good in moderation, but the effects of drinking can seriously impact your body and mental health. Understanding what alcohol does to the body and how to safely consume it as part of your lifestyle will improve your health and wellbeing.
Alcohol has been around for centuries. Often associated with social situations and celebrations, it is created using a chemical called ethanol.
Alcohol is created through a fermentation process where the ethanol is combined with food containing natural sugars such as fruit, vegetables or grains.
This combination is placed in an environment where yeast and bacteria can grow, this growth then reacts with the natural sugars to create alcohol.
The popularity of alcohol has led to the development of many beverages including wine, beer and spirits over the years which are widely consumed in the UK.
Alcohol has an immediate effect on the body, as it causes a chemical imbalance.
Alcohol molecules are small, so as soon as a drink is swallowed it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
As the heart continuously pumps blood, the alcohol is carried throughout the body with effects happening within minutes. Alcohol is toxic, so as soon as it comes into contact with the body, it will immediately try to break it down and remove it through:
The liver works the hardest and can break down one standard drink in the body an hour. If alcohol is drunk faster or in higher quantities than the liver can work against it, this is when feelings of being drunk occur.
Health effects of drinking:
Increase in anxiety, stress and memory loss including more severe blackouts & disturbed sleep
Digestive issues including sickness, pain and diarrhoea.
Shaking, sweating and unwanted weight gain from overlooked calories
Depression and severe anxiety. Further problems include dementia
Increased risk of cancer, stroke, heart and liver diseases. Risk of stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and fertility issues
The amount of alcohol in your drink is determined by the size of the drink you choose but more importantly the concentration of alcohol in the product.
Units were created to help people understand the amount of alcohol they were actually consuming. One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol and is equivalent to:
ABV stands for ‘alcohol by volume’. All alcoholic drinks carry this value on their labels to show the percentage of pure alcoholic content included in the container. For example, a bottle of wine that says ‘13 ABV’ or ‘13%’ on its label contains 13% alcohol.
It is recommended that both males and females consume no more than 14 units of alcohol in a week.
A common mistake is that many people think of ‘units’ in terms to the size of the drink, for example, a glass of wine or a shot of spirits is one unit and a pint of beer or lager is two units. However, variety means we must now check strengths to determine actual units consumed. Bear in mind:
Top Tips for Alcohol Reduction:
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