Do you drink beer, wine or spirits on a regular basis ? In the interest of disclosure I have a glass or two of wine about four times a year. I’m not much of a drinker – more of a one pot screamer really. One glass I get loud and silly, two glasses and I’m asleep on the couch.
Drinking is such a big part of our social and cultural life. It can be a really nice way to spend an evening – some great food and a nice glass of wine – but it’s good to remember that alcohol is a depressant drug, slowing the central nervous system and putting a strain on detoxifying organs.
I was talking to a client recently who was telling me about how he is trying “Dry July” – a month alcohol free. It was a big decision for him to make given that he drinks around 2-4 alcoholic drinks every day. He wan’t sure about his ability to stay with it for the whole month but I think it’s great that he is giving it a try. One of the most valuable things he has gained from the experience so far is recognising that he isn’t waking up with his usual nasty headache which has become part of his daily life. It took a couple of weeks grog free for him to make the connection that this was the cause of his regular headache and morning fogginess.
We talked about his reasons for drinking – work stress, habit, to help him sleep – and looked at other ways we could address these issues without so much alcohol.
There are some scary facts out there about Australia’s alcohol consumption. According to the NHMRC 1:5 of us drinks at levels which place us at risk of alcohol related disease or injury.
81% of men and 84% of women drink alcohol on a regular basis. ABS statistics tell us that (for every person over the age of 15) 10.3 litres , or 2.3 drinks every day, are consumed annually. When you consider that some of us drink very little or not at all, some people out there must be hitting it hard.
Some people or groups just shouldn’t go anywhere near this stuff – pregnant women, anyone under the age of 18, those with known kidney or liver dysfunction, people dealing with mental illness and most medications are not great when mixed with alcohol.
The long term effects of regular alcohol use include :
- heart damage
- high blood pressure and stroke
- liver disease
- cancers of the digestive system
- other digestive system disorders (eg stomach ulcers)
- sexual impotence and reduced fertility
- increasing risk of breast cancer
- sleeping difficulties
- brain damage with mood and personality changes
- concentration and memory problems
- nutrition-related conditions
- risks to unborn babies.
- increased risk of inflammation, insulin resistance
- increased risk of depression and anxiety
- stress on kidney, liver and pancreas
Even though this list is alarming alcohol is fairly low risk if the recommended guidelines are stuck to. A good guide is no more than two alcoholic drinks daily and at least three alcohol free days a week.
I am sometimes asked about red wine and it’s cardioprotective properties. Red wine, drunk in moderation, may have heart protective effects. Studies have shown that red wines contain powerful antioxidants that come from the skins of the grapes used to make the wine. Different grape antioxidants have different effects. One, which is only found in red wine, increases the level of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously lowering the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Resveratrol, the antioxidant in red wine is available in a tablet form and this is my preferred method of getting the benefits.
If you feel like you may have a problem with alcohol, wonder if you are drinking too much or of you would like some help getting back on track call me today. Tel 02 45677104 – your liver will thank you for it.