Updated: Jan 26
Many people enjoy the odd alcoholic drink but do you know what is a safe level to be drinking? The NHS recommends that men and women consume less than 14 units of alcohol per week, which is the equivalent of six pints of beer. They also advise that this should be spread out across the week, rather than in one session.
Alcohol has many effects on your body and health, even if it’s just a small amount. Here we outline three of these impacts:
Long Term Health Issues
There are serious risks to your long term health if you are consistently drinking more than the recommended amount, and these risks do not appear until later on in life.
High blood pressure is one of these risks, which is when your heart pumps your blood around your body at a higher than normal rate. This means that your heart and arteries are strained, risking a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. You may also be at risk of heart attack or stroke if the platelets in your blood clot together too much, which can cause be caused by excess alcohol consumption. Your blood can also be affected by anaemia from heavy drinking, which is when the number of red blood cells is too low. This means that the amount of oxygen circulating around your body is also too low, leading to fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.
When you drink alcohol, your body converts this into acetaldehyde, which scientists believe is a carcinogen and can cause cancer. The most common types of cancers found in heavy drinkers are mouth, breast and throat cancer.
Alcohol contains a high level of calories, so high levels of drinking can have a negative affect on efforts to control your calorie intake and manage your weight. Due to the nature of how alcohol is formed, all alcoholic products will contain a certain amount of sugar. Cider, fortified wine, sherry and liqueurs all have the highest sugar content, and don’t forget about the mixers!
Drinking more than the recommended amounts can have a damaging impact on your blood sugar levels, especially if you are already a diabetic. The body will try to remove alcohol from your system, as it sees it as a toxin. This diverts the body’s attention away from its normal processes, such as the regulation of glucose (blood sugar).
Although alcohol may make you fall asleep more quickly, it can have a negative impact on the amount and quality of sleep you are getting. After drinking, you will actually spend less time in the deep sleep phase, meaning you wake feeling less rested and more sluggish.
Alcohol also acts as a diuretic, meaning that you’ll have to get up to go to the toilet more often and you may sweat more. This can lead to dehydration, which is why it’s important to drink water before you go to sleep.
Make sure you stop drinking at least one hour before you go to sleep, to give your body time to properly process the alcohol.
There are many significant issues caused by drinking alcohol, and some of these will not be immediately obvious. In order to mitigate these risks and feel a lot healthier, for both now and in the future, look at ways you can cut down or eliminate your alcohol consumption.
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