I love December: It is the most wonderful time of the year! We are closing out another wonderful year with celebrations and cheers with colleagues, friends and families, we are surrounded with holiday music, gifts and parties. During these wonderful moments we probably will be sipping down more alcohol than any other times of the year. So how much alcohol can our body take (not our mind)? How much is really bad for you? What is the safe range or limit?
Before you drink and attempt to answer that, let’s take a little step backward and look at the label on your drink. You may be pouring into different glass sizes or even drinking directly from the bottle. To better gauge how much you’re actually drinking, let’s first understand the alcohol content. In the US, all beer cans, bottles of wine and other bottles of alcohol display the percentage of alcohol they contain. Below is a chart to show you the alcohol content in the commonly seen drinks in the US (for more info, please refer to www.alcoholcontents.com). As you can see, the range is wide.
Based on the CDC guideline, a standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in
- 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
- 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
- 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
- 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).
To make it simple, you can use to below guide as the definition of A Drink in the US.
So what is the limit? Below is a simple way to show you the recommendation made by the US Government, NOT from your doctor though! And I would disagree with the double up for men versus for women.
Please note: Women who are planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant are advised not to drink alcohol.
Now comes to the most important question: At what point (at what amount) does alcohol start to negatively affect our health?
Each and every one of us metabolizes alcohol differently. Some develop a quick tolerance to it and tend to increase this tolerance by drinking more frequently. While some of your friends may turn red or blush shortly after downing a quick drink or two. Those who are overweight might experience a greater tolerance compared to a thin person. Asians usually have a lower alcohol tolerance compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Men also have greater tolerance compared to women.
However despite these generalizations, there’s no exact point at which you’ll know that alcohol negatively impacts your health. That’s the scary truth! Alcoholics very seldom realize that their health is already in jeopardy and those who do, recognize it when it’s too late (internal organ damage has already set in).
When your healthcare provider asks you about your drinking history, he or she wants to know whether your drinking is significant enough to cause health problems. For example, according to the 19th edition of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a significant alcohol intake is more than two standard drinks per day in women and more than three standard drinks per day in men for more than 10 years. Drinking more than this sets your liver up for a whole spectrum of liver diseases ranging from alcoholic liver disease to liver cirrhosis and ultimately liver cancer.
Alcohol and its impact on your health
- When it comes to your fitness or performance in sports, alcohol has both acute and chronic effects. Acutely, alcohol significantly affects your motor skills (any movements involving your muscles) and performance. On a chronic level, alcohol promotes muscle weakness and long-term damage. It decreases your strength, endurance and reaction time.
- Alcohol also depresses your immune system and makes you susceptible to infectious diseases.
- Chronic alcoholics neglect the nutritional value of food during drinking binges which leads to a multitude of nutrient deficiencies.
- When it comes to sexual behavior, alcohol can lower your inhibitions and lead to poor judgement. The results? Unplanned pregnancies, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases and much more. For men, when you’ve had too much to drink, you may have problems getting it up or take too long to ejaculate. This can lead to frustration not just for the man, but also for his partner.
- Alcohol is basically what experts call a downer. You feel a certain high while drinking and immediately after becoming intoxicated. But once the effect wears off, you feel an all-time low. Not to mention that hangover. Bummer!
Tips to reduce your alcohol intake
- Stick by your word. You say you’re a social drinker? Be one then. Have 1-2 standard drinks for the entire party and not 1-2 drinks per conversation! You can be the life of the party, WITHOUT intoxicating yourself. You’ll feel much better the next day too.
- Stay in control please. Don’t involve yourself in drinking rounds. Rounds increase your chances of overshooting your limit.
- Check that label. For once, take a look at the label to see how much alcohol is in your drink. Then start counting.
- Always go for the smaller sizes. Now, don’t get any funny ideas and try drinking tequila in multiple, consecutive shot glasses. This statement applies to beer. Order the 330ml bottle not that big handle or jug wise guy.
- Drink water in between drinks to rehydrate. You can also dilute your drinks.
- Choose non-alcoholic alternatives such as mocktails (cocktails with all the frills but no alcohol)
So my advice: A small amount of alcohol may be good for you. But don’t start drinking alcohol just because of this statement. The risks of drinking alcohol never outweigh the benefits. Don’t start what you really don’t need in the first place. As I was told by many consumers, Karuna Detox juice help them with the hangover feeling, some even blended Karuna Detox in their drinks. Though I would advise stay within your limit even if you have a magic detox potion in hand!