Drinking alcohol in moderation can be part of a normal, enjoyable lifestyle. Used to excess, however, it may increase the risk of health problems and damage your heart.
Sensible drinking means not drinking too much, too often or too fast. Some tips:
- Know your own limits and don’t be pressured into drinking more than you intend.
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks with something non-alcoholic. You might be surprised what’s available in bars these days beyond the usual options of water, big brand soft drinks and light beer: kombucha, hot chocolate, craft soft drinks, non-alcoholic cider, mocktails…
- Enjoy some food alongside your drink.
- At home, know how much you are drinking by using a spirits measure.
And, of course, being sociable does not have to involve drinking at all. There are all sorts of sports, meetups and events to entice us from the pub from time to time and give the body a useful break from processing ethanol.
The advice from health authorities as to what constitutes a moderate amount of drinking varies from country to country, and on the size of a standard measure in each country:
According to the Mayo Clinic, avoiding alcohol entirely may be wise in certain situations:
- You’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- You’ve been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or you have a strong family history of alcoholism
- You have liver or pancreatic disease
- You have heart failure or you’ve been told you have a weak heart
- You take prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol
- You’ve had a hemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures)
You should at least talk it over with your doctor, if any of that applies to you or you have other concerns.