A DRINK in the evening is a treat many of us enjoy but it’s easy to lose track of just how much we are consuming on a regular basis – whether that’s in the pub with friends or at home once the kids have gone to bed.
Many of us would say that alcohol can help us wind down but one large glass of wine is equivalent to a third of a bottle which is more than many of us think.
It is easy – especially when drinking at home – for ‘just one glass to relax’ to turn into more than that, a top up or two can leave you with not that much left in the bottle. This means while you think you are drinking a small glass of wine you may be consuming much more than that. Drinking regularly like this over time can be damaging to our health in both the short and the longer term.
Recent figures show that around 38 per cent of women and 49 per cent of men regularly exceed daily sensible drinking guidelines. In fact, many people aren’t actually aware of what the sensible drinking guidelines are and in fact, they are lower than most of us realise.
Men shouldn’t regularly drink more than three to four units a day and for women it’s two to three units - that’s the same as one large glass of wine a day. It’s also recommended that you have at least two alcohol free days a week to give your body a break.
Regularly drinking more than the recommended guidelines can add up and lead to a range of issues including poor skin, brittle hair and nails, disrupted sleep and poor mental health. However over the longer term it can also lead to more serious health problems such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, chronic liver disease and breast cancer.
Audrey Birt, Scotland director at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We’ve known for some time that regularly drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing breast cancer as well as causing other health problems.
“The good news is women can reduce their risk of developing the disease in a number of ways, including decreasing their alcohol intake, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.”
Aside from the obvious health implications, drinking is also an expensive pastime that leaves us with nothing else but a guilty complex, boxes full of empties to carry down the street to the recycling bin and a bank balance which constantly moves in the wrong direction.
The good news is that by making some simple adjustments to your drinking habits – such as dropping a glass size – you could not only make you look and feel better, it could also help you improve your long term health so you’re happier and healthier for longer.
By simply selecting a smaller glass you will pour yourself a smaller drink – it’s the same principle as eating from a smaller plate when you’re on a diet. When it comes to losing weight alcohol is the one of the first things that you should consider reducing.
Drinking alcohol also inhibits the amount of fat we can burn meaning that if you want to drop a dress size – dropping a glass size is the easiest way to make a big difference in 2012.
To help you see the effects that alcohol can have on your appearance, a new ‘drinking time machine’ smartphone app has been developed. By using computer generated imagery it shows users how alcohol can speed up the ageing process.
The app can be downloaded from www.drinksmarter.org where a range of different information is available including ‘Wine Guess Challenge’ which shows you how many units are actually in your usual drink and ‘Drop a Glass Size’ which shows you how much you can save, including calories and money by dropping to a smaller wine glass size.
Finding out exactly how much you’re drinking will make it easier to stick to the Sensible Drinking Guidelines. By reducing how much and how often you enjoy a drink, you could really help your health long term.