Lisa Ward |

Did you honestly, really know, it's not just calories?

Today I'm talking alcohol! I'm sure many of you like me like the odd glass or two! Before you think, "I don't want to read anymore of this" please STOP & ask yourself what's the real reason I don't want to know anymore?
Alcohol for those of us who drink it, affects our body and mind immediately it's consumed. Some of Its effects can be short-lasting but others can stay a lot longer or become permanent.

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:

  1. Cancer, including breast & cancer of the gullet
  2. Strokes, liver disease
  3. Heart disease, hypertension
  4. Fertility problems & retarded foetal development
  5. Dementia
  6. Mental health problems
  7. 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:

  1. Labelling - mainly on bottled drinks so look out for this
  2. Various websites
  3. Purchasing something to use to measure - such as a cocktail measuring cup or glass which shows the measurements on the side

Alcohol clearance rates

It takes a long time to completely clear alcohol from the system. This puts a strain on the liver as the liver can metabolise only a certain amount of alcohol per hour, regardless of the amount that has been consumed.

It is possible to clear alcohol from the body at approximately one unit per hour starting from the time that drinking starts. Since the metabolism of alcohol is slow, consumption needs to be controlled to prevent accumulation in the body & intoxication.

Alcohol and the added calories

It's worth bearing in mind that a couple of "large" glass of wine or spirits can be the equivalent of consuming about the same calories as eating a slice of cake or more!

Often, we are therefore not really aware of the contribution alcoholic drinks make to our energy intake.

It's not just the health risks as highlighted above it's also the impact on on our weight management.

How am I helping my clients?

Firstly, we are not eliminating from the diet not unless the client wants to.

  1. We work together on a strategy to reduce overall intake if applicable, over a period of time to a healthier, safer limit, whilst still being able to enjoy on a regular basis.
  2. I teach my clients, some of the content I have shared with you on this blog but also ways to help manage consumption.

If you have managed to get to the bottom of this blog, thank you for taking the time to read it. It's not designed to be a lecture but more of a piece of education & knowledge if you weren't already aware.

On that note, if you do like a tipple or two, please continue to enjoy but please do stay within the safe levels for you, your health, your future & for your loved ones.

Take good care

Lisa x

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