So, what is alcohol?
Well apart from something that many of us drink, to either unwind, relax, & enjoy as part of our social lives, it's a compound made up of carbon, hydrogen & oxygen & is produced when yeast ferments sugars.
The amount of alcoholic content in a drink is determined by the amount of yeast & the length of fermentation.
Wine & cider as we know already, are made from fruit, while rye & barley form the basis of beers and spirits.
Alcohol for those of us who drink it, affects our body and mind immediately it's consumed. Some of It's effects can be short-lasting but others can stay a lot longer or become permanent.
What are the guidelines?
The Department of Health advise that the "safe" drinking levels for both men & women are 14 units of alcohol a week. The guidelines also recommend that if you do consume 14 units per week that it is spread over at least 3 days.
What are the effects of regularly drinking over the recommended levels?
Well if we do, not only can it lead to serious weight gain but can also lead to:
- Cancer, including breast & cancer of the gullet
- Strokes, liver disease
- Heart disease, hypertension
- Fertility problems & retarded foetal development
- Mental health problems
- Reduced bone density
How can we drink safely?
We've already looked at what the safe drinking levels are, but are we really aware of how much we drink, how often we drink & how much we are putting our health at risk.
However, are you really bothered? It maybe a case of "it's not going to happen to me."
But the harsh reality is - it could.
The difficulty for many of us, is recognising what a unit is & therefore what the recommendations relate to.
A unit of alcohol is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as it's alcohol strength.
Things to help us manage our measures include:
- Labelling - mainly on bottled drinks so look out for this
- Various websites
- Purchasing something to use to measure - such as a cocktail measuring cup or glass which shows the measurements on the side