Alcohol is such an important part of our social lives nowadays but how does it affect our health? Whilst everyone is saying that red wine is good for your cardiovascular health, how come it doesn’t get the heart foundation “tick”?
What health experts recommend is that if you already drink then drinking red wine would be more beneficial to your health than other forms of alcohol. However, if you don't already drink then you should not start.
Not surprisingly, moderation is the key.
How Much is Too Much?
This differs from individual to individual. It depends on your age, genetic background, your body size, sex and individual combinations of conversion enzymes. This means that your alcohol tolerance level can change when you age, when you diet changes, when you gain or lose weight and when for various reasons, hormonal changes affect the combination of relevant enzymes which you need to break down alcohol. So there is no “standard” number of drinks that you can refer to?
The National Health and Medical Research Council developed new national guidelines for alcohol consumption and this is available on www.alcohol.gov.au.
Essentially healthy men and women should limit their drinking to no more than 2 standard drinks on any day. This can reduce their risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over the course of a lifetime.
The United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee defines “moderate drinking” as, on average:
- For women: up to seven drinks per week, with no more than three drinks on any single day
- For men: up to 14 drinks per week, with no more than four drinks on any single day
We already see here there are 2 different “views” on what, on average, is a safe level of alcohol consumption. The US standard is more generous whilst the Australian standard does not distinguish between genders.
The above are very rough guides and do not take into account the individual biological and ethnical backgrounds.
Listen to Our Bodies
Rather than trying to scientifically calculate the right amount, we can start by listening to our bodies.
At which point do you feel you can balance the enjoyment of consuming alcohol and yet avoid a hangover the following day?
Ask yourself why you choose to drink? Do you drink for:
- Pleasure—for the taste and as a great companion to meals
- Creativity—that you can think better when you are a little tipsy
- Leisure—to feel relaxed and chill
- Social interaction—social bonding
Choose the right reason to drink, don’t drink because you are stressed, to escape from life or if it’s a habit. Try to have a good reason every time you choose to drink.
Once again, the more aware we are of how our body feels with alcohol consumption, we are already a long way towards reducing our alcohol consumption, for a healthier life.
More Importantly, Does Alcohol Make Us Fat?
This is perhaps a more tangible fear on most of our minds when we think about alcohol and our bodies. The undeniable answer is Yes.
How does alcohol make us fat?
- It limits our body’s ability to burn fat as fuel as a byproduct of alcohol metabolism is toxic to the body. The body concentrates on getting rid of alcohol and us that as the primary source of fuel over all other potential sources.
- It limits fat oxidation and mobilization, limits growth hormone release which in turn means we are not losing fat or building muscle.
- Alcohol spikes insulin which will increase fat storage while rebound hypoglycemia will lead to subsequent bingeing.
Some strategies may be useful here are:
- Stick with low sugar options such as wine, straight spirits and mixers like club soda with lime
- Avoid alcohols mixed with soda, fruit juice
- Eat as little fat with alcohol
- Avoid a pre-drinking carb load as this will send insulin levels even higher with the subsequent rebound hypoglycemia (sudden drop in blood sugar) prompting bingeing
- If you are drinking for stress relieve, then try yoga or other relaxation techniques instead
Our team at Yoga XTC is on hand to answer any questions that you may have regarding training, yoga and nutrition. Contact us on 03 8528 1001 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.