Social drinking is a big part of Australian culture, with 44 per cent of the population drinking alcohol at least once a week.
What most people don’t know is exactly how much they are drinking and how it could be impacting their health.
“Isn’t a glass of red wine good for my heart?”
Polyphenols are the groups of antioxidants found in red wine that protect the lining of blood vessels, lower “bad cholesterol” in your blood and assist in preventing blood clots.
However, Polyphenols aren’t just found in red wine, 24g of walnuts, 25g of dark chocolate, 360ml of black tea or 85g of blueberries all have the same amount of heart helping polyphenols as a glass of red wine but with out all the negative side effects.
“I don’t drink that much”
As part of an Alcohol Awareness Campaign everyone on our ward, including health professionals, family members, friends and patients were asked to pour what they believed to be a standard glass of red wine.
On average we poured 2.4 times more “wine” in the glass than what would be classified as a standard drink.
This showed it doesn’t matter now much you know about alcohol, it’s easy to underestimate just how much you are drinking.
A standard unit of alcohol is 100ml of red wine, 110ml of white wine, 60ml of port, 30ml of spirits and 375ml of mid-strength beer.
“Hangovers aren’t simply based on the amount of alcohol you drink”
Different alcoholic beverages can cause different hangover symptoms.
This is because of a bi-product of fermentation called congeners.
Red wine and dark liquors (bourbon and brandy) have higher levels of congeners and often result in more severe hangover symptoms.
The good news is gin or vodka has practically no congeners!
“A night cap helps me sleep”
Alcohol might help you get to sleep quickly, but it also causes more restless sleep later in the night.
Alcohol reduces the total amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for stimulating the parts of the brain used for learning, making and retaining memories.
“Can Alcohol really affect my health?”
Alcohol can increase your risk of upper digestive tract, liver, breast, colorectal and kidney cancer.
The relationship is believed to be dose-dependent, which means the more alcohol you drink the higher your risk.
Excessive alcohol intake can also increase your risk of a stroke, blood pressure and worsen pre-existing depression and anxiety.
Finally, people don’t realise that alcohol can affect fertility for both males and females.
So if you are trying to get pregnant avoiding alcohol all together for both partners is highly recommended.
Head online to see more of Jess’ alcohol tips.
- 1. Healthy men and women should have no more than two standard drinks per night, we should aim for at least two alcohol-free nights a week.
- 2. Aim to consume no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion. Anything more is considered binge drinking.