When you’ve had too much to drink, your body lets you know the next day in no uncertain terms — headache, nausea, ugh.
In moderate amounts, alcohol has been shown to have health benefits. But if you overindulge you’ll not only experience that morning-after hangover but some potentially serious health problems, which can occur if you overdo it on a regular basis.
How much is too much?
When it comes to alcohol consumption, understanding how much is too much can be challenging. After all, different people process alcohol differently. The amount you can digest in an hour varies depending on liver function, your body mass and even your genetic background or gender, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
So are you drinking too much?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians the answer is yes if you:
- Are female and have more than seven drinks every week or more than three drinks on a single occasion.
- Are a man who drinks more than 14 drinks each week or four drinks on a single occasion.
- Are above the age of 65 and have more than seven drinks a week or more than three drinks on a single occasion.
And no, pouring half a bottle of wine into one glass doesn’t count as single drink. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a drink as:
Toast to your health
- 12 ounces of regular beer or wine cooler
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
There are some pretty significant potential health consequences for people who overindulge. According to the CDC, 79,000 people die every year from excessive alcohol consumption. From accidents and violence to alcohol poisoning, the consequences can be immediate and deadly. But alcohol can also cause your body to deteriorate over the long-term. According to the CDC, long-time heavy drinkers can suffer
- neurological problems
- heart problems
- liver disease
- gastrointestinal problems
- psychiatric problems
In short, it’s a laundry list of things you probably want to avoid.
But the good news is that you don’t have to avoid alcohol completely. The key is to drink adult beverages in moderation, which means no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Keeping it moderate can actually protect your health by reducing your risk for heart disease and possibly stroke and diabetes. It may also lower your risk of gallbladder disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Another bonus: no blinding morning-after headache. You can raise a glass to that.
For further reading
American Academy of Family Physicians (familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/alcohol-abuse/symptoms.html)