Cutting alcohol consumption risks – from reading labels to sleeping more

There is no denying it, we are a culture of drinkers and with many turning to booze after a stressful day, celebration or simply to relax – it can lead to devastating consequences.

According to NHS England, the average wine drinker consumes 2,000 calories from alcohol every month, and the average beer drinker – drinking five pints of lager a week – takes in 44,200 calories a year, the equivalent of 221 doughnuts.

Putting added calories to one side, over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems.

These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.

With this in mind, is there a way of cutting down on the risks while still continuing to enjoy some drinks?

Be aware of labels and ABV numbers

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ABV means alcohol by volume.

The strength of alcoholic drinks has increased over the years, with new wines from South America, South Australia and South Africa containing 14% ABV or higher.

This means that a bottle will contain approximately 10.5 units and 750 calories, and a large 250ml glass can be over three units and 200 calories.

Craft beers for example often have more alcohol (aka a higher ABV or, alcohol by volume) than traditional macro-beers. The more alcohol the more calories.

For example, a 12-ounce beer with 9% ABV (not atypical for craft brews) has about 270 calories.

If a craft brewery doesn’t list the calorie count on their beers, you can use a handy equation to estimate how much your beer has.

By multiply the ABV by 2.5, then multiplying that by the number of ounces in your beer you can work it out for yourself.

Choose a different drink

When it comes to the liver processing alcohol, it will not know the difference between drinks.

However, if a drink is higher in alcohol the liver will have to obviously work harder too.

Therefore, drinking a small amount of something such as whiskey, the liver will have an easier time to process rather than something containing a high amount of alcohol such as cocktails.

The power of rest

“Don’t drink after strenuous physical activity or after a night of poor sleep,” said Dr Helen Eleni Xenos.

She added: “And be sure to get a good amount of sleep after a night of drinking.

“Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels, and hitting the bottle on an empty stomach or after a tough workout only depletes those levels further.”

Cut down for maximum benefits

“Cutting back on the booze can be a really effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money,” advises the NHS.

The national health body added: “Any reduction in the amount you drink every week will be beneficial – and with the right help, it's easier than you think.

“You do not necessarily need to go teetotal to feel the benefits of drinking less.

“Even just setting and sticking to a few drink-free days a week, or swapping to lower-strength drinks, are great steps in the right direction.”

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