Alcohol and my health
Drinking alcohol can be an enjoyable experience when socialising and relaxing, but drinking too much of it seriously messes up our health. That's because alcohol contains toxins (ethanol) and chemicals that harm our organs - but also, because the addictive nature of alcohol means we end up drinking instead of exercising or living healthily.
Getting the right amount of exercise into our lives has been proven many times to reduce ill-health and prevent health problems - but drinking too much makes us sluggish and counteracts any positive health gain from exercising. Worse still, drinking too much means we're less motivated to exercise even though we may have planned to.
Each drink of alcohol also contains ‘empty’ calories, which actually have no nutritional value - so while our calorie count goes up when drinking alcohol, those calories are not adding any nutrients, vitamins or energy to our bodies - just excess weight.
How many calories are in a drink? As a rough guide, each unit of alcohol contains about 56 calories, but when you add in the other processes used to make a drink and any mixers, the calorie total can be higher.
Its easy to forget that your alcohol intake also includes calories and these add to weight gain, especially if you’re also snacking with your drinks, or eating fried food on the way home from the pub.
The healthy option is to eat a healthy meal before or with your drinks and pace yourself.
Staying healthy while drinking in moderation
To reduce the chances of gaining weight from drinking alcohol:
- Always drink water as well as your alcoholic drink – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated
- Stick to a lower amount of alcohol on each occasion you drink and don’t drink on an empty stomach
- Set up your exercise regime throughout the week and don't drink on the evenings beforehand
- Stick to small amounts of alcohol when you do drink so that you get a good night's sleep
Check out how you can cut down with our Go Slow technique.