The CalorieKing Alcohol Guide
Alcohol is a fairly common part of Australian culture. It is often associated with celebrations and significant events, such as weddings.
But if you find yourself indulging in your favourite drink a bit too often, it's not only the hangovers and excess calories than can cause problems. Other serious issues, including poor health, violence, and drunk driving, can occur when high amounts of alcohol are consumed.
This guide will help you learn about safe levels of alcohol consumption, and what impact alcohol can have on your health and weight.
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Health issues – the key is moderation
Much research has been done into the effects of alcohol on health. The bottom line seems to be that while heavy drinking causes many health problems, moderate drinking (see the section What is moderate drinking? below) can sometimes be more beneficial than not drinking at all. However, the benefits of alcohol never apply to heavy drinking; abusive drinking only leads to harm for oneself and others.
Among the benefits of drinking in moderation are a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and an improvement in memory function. Moderate consumption of alcohol is also thought to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and senile dementia, improve resistance to the common cold virus, and significantly reduce the risk of Peripheral Artery Disease.
While drinking small amounts of alcohol can have some health benefits, other approaches, such as regularly exercising, improving diet and stopping smoking, achieve better results than drinking does. So while a drink here and there in moderation might not harm you, it's not a good reason to start drinking if you don't already!
Heavy drinking can have harmful effects, including increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of stroke, increased risk of some cancers, neurological damage, liver disease, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer and gastritis, heartburn, nutritional deficiencies, menstrual problems, anxiety, headaches, sleep disturbance and insomnia. Heavy drinking is also associated with relationship problems, legal complications, work absenteeism and violence.
What is moderate drinking?
Men: No more than 4 standard drinks (40g alcohol) per day on average, and no more than 6 standard drinks on any one day
One standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol and is equivalent to
And sorry folks! Saving all your daily drinks for one weekly occasion doesn’t count! In fact, it could be classified as “heavy drinking” and can cause health problems. It is recommended that you have one or two alcohol-free days a week.
The rate at which you drink is also important:
Men: No more than 2 standard drinks in the first hour and 1 per hour after that.
Moderate drinking can vary for each individual, depending on factors such as age and weight. Women and adolescents are more prone to alcohol's ill-effects due to their lower body weight, smaller livers and lesser capacity to metabolize alcohol. For some people, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
It is advisable not to drink at all if you are:
As well as health complications, alcohol consumption can have other risks.
Drinking and driving. In Australia, it is an offence to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or higher. Many factors can affect your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. For example, drinking on an empty stomach or having a high amount of body fat can make you reach a higher BAC sooner.
With any amount of alcohol in your system, your driving skills, reflexes and concentration can be affected. Studies have shown that drivers are twice as likely to crash with a BAC of 0.05, seven times as likely to crash with a BAC of 0.08, while a BAC of 0.15 increases the probability of a crash by 25 times. Remember that extreme tiredness will also impair driving, particularly when combined with alcohol.
Interactions with medications. Drinking alcohol while taking certain medications can cause problems - there are hundreds of medicines that should not be mixed with alcohol. Generally, the alcohol combined with the medication will increase drowsiness, making driving and operating machinery even more dangerous. Liver damage is also a risk. If you are on any medication, ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to drink any alcohol.
Social and legal problems. Heavy drinking increases your potential for problems at home, at work, with friends, and even with strangers. These problems may include:
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