Parallels: Alcohol

Do you drink too much?

If you choose to drink alcohol, public health bodies suggest doing so in moderation, and different countries set different limits.
US guidelines say one drink (14 grams of alcohol) per day for women and two drinks for men. In the UK, limits are slightly lower at about eight drinks per week for both men and women, ideally spread over three or more days.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Drinkaware

Drinking less means you’ll consume fewer calories and are less likely to eat unhealthy foods that seem appealing when you're tipsy.

Alcohol has more calories in it than you think. Spirits, wine and beer can have from 97 to more than 300 calories per drink. So, a few drinks after work quickly add up!

Alcohol contains seven calories per gram – which is more than protein and even carbs, which both have four calories. Fat has nine calories per gram.

Source: Drinkaware

Limiting your alcohol, particularly near bedtime, and staying hydrated can improve the quality of your sleep at night, leaving you well-rested and refreshed.

Although alcohol has sedative effects, it also disrupts your sleep by raising levels of certain hormones in your body to make you more alert, and as it’s a diuretic you’re more likely to wake up needing the toilet.

It’s likely you smell when drinking and when hungover. While your liver processes alcohol, some of it leaves your body through your breath, urine and sweat.

Source: Drinkaware

Moderate amounts of alcohol, under suggested limits, have been shown to lower your risk of heart conditions by 25-40%. It can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and blood clots -- depending on age and drinking habits.

Studies show excessive alcohol can cause unusual heart rhythms, high blood pressure and damage to heart muscle.

Drinking less, or no, alcohol will help your immune system function as normal, leaving you stronger, healthier and fighting fit.

Drinking lots of alcohol can damage your immune system and therefore your ability to fight infections and recover from injuries.

While alcohol can immediately cause slowed reaction times, memory loss and slurred speech, moderate amounts are unlikely to have long-lasting effects.

Drinking excessively, or bingeing, over a long period of time can cause changes in your brain and its chemistry, impairing mental abilities and memory and decreasing the size of your brain.

Binge drinking definitions vary. In the UK, it counts as drinking more than eight units in one drinking session for men and six units for women. US guidelines say five drinks for men and four drinks for women within a two-hour period. Heavy alcohol use is when you do this for five or more days in a month.

Source: Drinkaware, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Limiting your alcohol can help you stay in control of your thoughts and behavior, and maintain a healthy brain chemistry.

Heavy drinking can bring on depression and can become addictive, leading to alcoholism. Over a long time, it can change your brain chemistry, causing anxiety and stress as well as depression.

Studies have shown moderate drinking may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Heavy drinking increases your chances of developing diabetes, as it reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin, inflames the pancreas and can cause pancreatitis.

Want to drink less? Try:

  • Only drinking with dinner
  • Alcohol-free nights out
  • Reduced-alcohol drinks
  • Keeping track of how much you drink
Learn more about how alcohol affects your health here

Editorial Lead Meera Senthilingam

Design and Production Sarah-Grace Mankarious

Editorial Sandee LaMotte

Development Marco Chacón

Illustration and Animation Linn Fritz