Why too much alcohol is 'ageing'

Updated: Jul 13

Alcohol is often a confusing topic with there being many conflicting news stories on whether drinking has any benefits or is simply bad for you.

Overall the research shows that those people who are able to maintain a ‘moderate’ alcohol intake are much more likely to be healthier and live longer, happier lives than those who don’t.

The concept of ‘moderate alcohol’

It can sound like a mixed message but there are some benefits for drinking a moderate amount of alcohol. Wine for example, has a number of potentially beneficial molecules such as polyphenols that are found in the grape skins and moderate alcohol itself has been shown to be associated with an increase in heart healthy, ‘good cholesterol’. Research has also suggested that people who drink at a moderate level of alcohol are, on average, likely to have a reduced risk of heart disease and mortality.

HOWEVER it is also the case that drinking too much alcohol has been linked to high blood pressure, liver disease, mental health issues and some forms of cancer.

So what's the truth?

While there may be healthy ingredients within alcoholic drinks and alcohol itself can have some positive properties, the truth is that drinking too much leads to significant health problems, and many people drink far more than what is considered to be 'moderate'.

How much is OK?

The scientific consensus is that a healthy and moderate intake of alcohol is 14 units of alcohol or less per week. This is equivalent of 1 glass of wine or normal strength beer per day, with ideally some alcohol free days too.

It is also important that this intake is spread across the week, and not 'saved up' to be consumed on one or two days, as this qualifies as 'binge' drinking which is extremely damaging to health.

Developing a positive and moderate relationship with alcohol

In countries where people live longer, happier lives, alcohol tends to be drunk socially and in moderation as part of a meal. This positive approach is backed up by scientific research, which shows that alcohol is best consumed as part of a small meal as it ensures it is absorbed slowly and safely.

Unfortunately in the United Kingdom, our drinking culture tends to encourage binge drinking and current research shows that many people are routinely drinking far too much both out socially and alone at home.

For more information on number of units in different drinks and how to cut down on alcohol, check out our other blog posts on alcohol.


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