Christmas is in the air and the spirit is certainly flowing. Like everything else, alcohol is OK in moderation. But what is moderation? What are acceptable levels of alcohol consumpution?
In 2016 the Department of Health in the UK revised it’s guidelines to advise that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. It is further suggested that the 14 units are consumed over a spread of at least three days.
Is alcohol important?
No; the essential nutrients are: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. Alcohol is not essential for a healthy lifestyle. However, if you have to consume alcohol, do so in moderation so that your health does not suffer serious consequences.
Safe drinking levels
The Department of Health in the UK advises a limit of 14 units of alcohol spread over a week. But what is 14 units in terms of your favourite drink?
A unit of alcohol is 10ml or 8mg of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as the strength of its alcohol content.
Example – a unit of alcohol could be:
- half a can of beer, lager or cider (220ml)
- a small shot of spirit (25ml) or
- half a glass of wine (75ml).
What are the impacts of drinking alcohol?
Alcohol impacts both your health and your waist-line.
Health implications from misuse of alcohol include:
- cancer (incl breast cancer and cancer of the oesophagus)
- liver disease
- coronary heart disease
- reduced bone density
- fertility problems
- retarded foetal development
- stomach ulcers
- mental health problems.
What is the impact of alcohol on your weight?
Every gram of pure alcohol contains 7 kcal. Only a percentage of your drink is pure alcohol and this percentage ranges from 3% for a light beer to 40% for spirits. This percentage of pure alcohol is called alcohol by volume (ABV).
The stronger the ABV the more units and calories your drink contains.
- a 250 ml glass of wine which has a typical volume of 13% ABV contains 3.3 units of alcohol. Each unit contains 8g of pure alcohol and each gram of alcohol contains 7 kcal. Therefore, a 250 ml glass of wine contains 185 kcal (rounded off to the nearest decimal).
3.3 units x 8g x 7kcal = 184.8 kcal
Two large glasses or wine could easily give you more calories than a slice of cake!
Finally, it being Christmas-time, I cannot help but touch on safety. Unfortunately, in Malta, drinking and driving is very much common practice.
Alcohol affects your mind and body immediately it is consumed.
It takes one hour for a unit of alcohol to be cleared through your system.
Knowing the above, let’s presume you have two large glasses of wine (6.6 units) and start drinking at 20.30 hours. It will take your body just over six and a half hours to clear the alcohol from your system – i.e. approximately by 03.00 hours the following morning.
I am not suggesting you do not enjoy a drink over Christmas. I’m just trying to raise awareness.
A Merry Christmas to you all! Enjoy and keep safe – drinking and driving do not go together.
My thanks go to
Future Fit Training School of Nutrition Notes; and