How to Reduce the Harmful Effects of Alcohol on the Body

First, stop drinking a few hours before bed.

Have you ever heard that drinking alcohol in moderation can be even healthier than cutting it out completely? Supporters of this opinion constantly refer to some kind of research that consistently shows that people who drink a couple of times a week are healthier than teetotalers. Well, of course, so many times to raise a toast “For health!”.

Unfortunately, this is not entirely true: if you have chronic diseases or are generally unhealthy, then you definitely should not drink. And if you take a closer look at this topic, then in general it turns out that any use of alcohol is worse than abstaining from it.

Apparently no one drinks because they feel too good, especially these days. I am sure that during the first two months of the pandemic, the most exciting event of the day for many of us was the evening journey from the sofa to the kitchen to pour ourselves something strong. For a while, my everyday life went like this, and, frankly, I began to worry. The drinks, which ranged from cocktails to a simple glass of red, were something I looked forward to at the end of the day and an excuse to chat with my friends on Zoom.

And if this situation is familiar to you, believe me, you are not alone. Nielsen conducted a study of alcohol sales in the United States in March 2020 and compared the figures with the same period last year. It turned out that liquor was bought 54% more often, and online sales increased by 262% compared to 2019.

Given the situation in the world, it can be a little difficult to determine how much alcohol is considered “normal”. So we spoke to several experts to find out what is considered “safe” drinking, how alcohol affects the body, and what to keep in mind when you drink.

How does alcohol affect the body?

Anyone who has ever suffered from a hangover and bashfully checked the phone for messages to the wrong people already knows about the most common consequences of alcohol. But in the long run, heavy drinking (defined by his National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as five or more drinks a day and 15 or more drinks a week) can damage brain cells, increase blood pressure, and even lead to a stroke.

According to a nutritionist, in the short term, drinking even a small amount of alcohol is also not without consequences: from impaired muscle coordination and response to erectile dysfunction. Alcohol can also interfere with muscle recovery by limiting the production of human growth hormone.

“To reduce these effects, be smart about how you consume alcohol – remember to also drink something non-alcoholic and eat,” says the nutritionist.

Another consequence of excessive consumption is sleep disturbance. “The first few sleep cycles are usually the deepest. And if you drink in the evening, even in small amounts, alcohol will affect you for about three to four more hours, which means it will disrupt the deepest part of the sleep cycle, ”explains a medical expert.

The doctorrecommends drinking alcohol at least four hours before you go to bed. Thus, during this time you will have time to move a little, eat, drink water, and digest alcohol.

Is there any “safe” amount of alcohol that you can drink regularly?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate drinking as no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one for women. According to the expert, one drink a day will not have a lasting effect on your health.

But this one drink, of course, can be different and should be chosen wisely: “Let’s look at the example of beer. Now there are more and more alternatives that are stronger than standard beer with 5% alcohol. And many do not see the difference between the usual portion and the one where 8 or 9%.”

And if you’re wondering which drinks to go for, the expert recommends simpler, lower-calorie, lower-sulfite options, like wine. And if you are a big fan of cocktails, then pay attention to what your drink consists of and what is added to it besides alcohol: “It is better if the composition contains as little sugar as possible.”

In general, if you want to reduce the harm to the body from alcohol, we advise you to remember a few rules: do not forget about water and do not drink on an empty stomach and before bedtime.

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