Tuesday November 15, 2016
Us Brits love a good alcoholic bevvy, with pubs and pints an important part of British culture! Weddings wouldn't be the same without that celebratory champagne; steak wouldn’t taste the same without that glass of Merlot; a student's university experience wouldn't be as memorable without that value vodka; even Santa needs that sherry to get him through his Christmas shift!
Our appreciation for food and drink goes back thousands of years, with evidence to suggest people were fermenting foods for their alcoholic potential as far back as 7000BC, with ancient cultures brewing their own unique blends depending on their available resources.
So what's the problem? Well, alcohol is not necessarily always a bad thing, so long as it's in moderation. And unfortunately, most people don't fully acknowledge the reality of their alcohol intake, and the effect it has on their physical and mental health. Well, that's where our GP's come in: together with their patients, our GP's can thoroughly assess your alcohol intake, and run thorough blood tests to measure the effect of your alcohol consumption on your body.
Step 1: Alcohol Assessment - Know Your Units!
Did you know, binge drinking is defined as the consumption of over six or eight units of alcohol in one session, for men and women respectively. “Well I rarely have eight drinks in one session, I'm definitely not a binge drinker” you might say. But eight units is not necessarily eight drinks: the average drink is two units worth of alcohol.
So, how many units of alcohol do you think are in a large glass of 13% wine?
The answer is three - the average large glass of wine contains three units of alcohol! Therefore, a woman consuming two large glasses of wine is verging on binge drinking!
Similarly, how many units of alcohol are in a pint of 4% beer?
Two! The average pint of beer is worth two units. So four pints in one session for a man is also considered binge drinking.
It's easier to reach that binge drinking threshold than you first though, isn't it? Now we have your attention! In 2013, a survey revealed that approximately 19% of 25-44 year old's had participated in an episode of binge drinking at least once in the previous week.
How Much Is One Unit Of Alcohol?
One unit of alcohol, as shown by most popular drinks
How Many Units of Alcohol Can I Drink A Week?
The government's guidance on alcohol consumption recommends women and men should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, and this is best spread across at least 3 days.
Step 2: Has Drinking Affected Your Body? Get a Liver Function Test
The best way to assess the long-term affects of alcohol on your body is by undergoing a thorough general wellness screen. This will measure the function of a range of bodily systems and organs, including the liver: the organ most directly impacted by alcohol consumption.
Since it's the liver that's responsible for breaking down and removing ethanol from the body, excess alcohol consumption can cause damage in the long term, as seen in a liver function test. Long-term complications of excess alcohol consumption include liver cirrhosis, as well as increased risk of vascular diseases (high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack). High levels of alcohol consumption can also has negative effects on fertility, leading to infertility and impotence.
Alcohol misuse can also have effects on our mental health, leading to depression and anxiety.
Step 3: Cut Down Your Alcohol Intake
Together with your GP, you can work out which further steps need to be taken, if any, with regard to your alcohol consumption. GP's are full of helpful pieces of lifestyle advice, such as how to accurately monitor and reduce your alcohol consumption to an acceptable level.