Do you know your stuff when it comes to drinking over the festive period?
Well let’s find out!
1. Women can handle their drink just as well as men?
Err no, generally not. Men tend to have more body water so can dilute the alcohol a little more than women. Men also tend to have a higher metabolic rate and the Liver break’s down the alcohol a bit faster. Women also absorb around 30% more alcohol than men, therefore men may not reach the same alcohol ‘high’ as women (although this is not true for all!) Oh and as we all get older, our body becomes less efficient at breaking down the alcohol so are more likely to feel it’s effects and suffer worse hangovers. The good thing about this is that it can make for a cheap night, just remember to drink plenty of water too!
2. A Guinness a day is ‘good for you’?
No to this one too. It was promoted as a ‘healthy’ drink (due to its Iron content) but Guinness were eventually asked to remove this slogan. The iron content of stout is not enough to justify drinking it. Essentially alcohol just provides empty Calories – there are not significant amounts of any essential nutrients (vitamins or minerals) in any alcoholic drink to justify including it in our diet. A pint of Guinness contains ~0.3mg of iron, less than 3% of an adult’s daily requirement. Basically, you would need to drink 15 pints of Guinness to get the same amount of iron as 2 Weetabix!
3. Mixing your drinks makes you more drunk?
Nope it’s how many units you have that matters. Alcohol is alcohol as far as our body is concerned and the liver knows no better if its dealing with wine or cider or anything else. Mixing your drinks will most likely make you sick due to the concoction in your stomach that upsets it.
4. Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; never mix the grape and the grain and any other sayings you might possibly know!?
Nope, what ever the saying, the same explanation stands as with the previous myth. Alcoholic drinks do not ‘interact’ with each other, it’s about the total amount you are having. Check the strength of spirits and liqueurs (particularly the ones you might not routinely drink), you might be surprised as some Christmassy drinks or cocktails may not taste alcoholic at all!
5. Being sick, getting some fresh air, having a cold shower or cup of strong coffee will all make you sober up?
No – these may temporarily ‘wake you up’ by counteracting the sedative effect alcohol can have but they will not remove the alcohol that’s already in your blood stream, making you feel drunk. Only time to allow your liver to do this will work (it needs about 1 hr for each unit consumed).
6. The more you drink the more tolerance you develop so you can safely drink more?
Now that we are in the ‘party season’ you may think that drinking more regularly than usual you can ‘handle it better’. This is a definite no no. The more you drink the more damage you do to your body, FULL STOP. You may feel you can drink more but your blood alcohol level may tell a very different story. If you ever choose to drink and drive, any blood or breathalyser tests will clearly indicate how much you will have had to drink; and if you are over the drink-drive limit, enough to prosecute you. It is simply not worth the risk.
7. Alcohol helps you relax?
Initially alcohol may stimulate you; making you feel happier, more energetic and confident. As it builds up in the blood stream however it depresses your nervous system, which gives you the feeling of relaxation. It is this effect that slows your speech and reactions and ultimately can mean you fall asleep or lose consciousness. It is also the one of the reasons why excessive alcohol consumption is linked to mental health problems. Alcohol in the long-term does not help you manage stress, or deal with its root cause. Alcohol also affects the quality of your sleep. Often used as a ‘night cap’ more than likely it will give you a disturbed night’s sleep so you wake up feeling more tired (and more prone to stress).
8. Alcohol makes you a better lover?
No, it might just make you think you are! Alcohol has a major effect on your inhibitions, making you feel more confident and comfortable – talking to people you might not normally, particularly in new situations. This ‘beer goggle’ effect alcohol closes down the part of the brain that stops people acting on impulses and potentially changes people’s perceptions of what is attractive. Alcohol can also reduce ‘performance’ and fertility in both men and women.
9. Taking pain killers before drinking will stop or lessen a hangover?
Unfortunately it is very unlikely you can prevent a hangover, except by not drinking to excess. Painkillers will only last a few hours, not all night so any effect will worn off by the time you wake up the following morning. Many of the symptoms of a hangover are due to dehydration caused by the alcohol. Your best bet is to ensure you drink plenty of water before going to bed.
10. Red wine is good for you?
This is a tricky one. Many researchers agree there is something in red wine that, when drunk in moderation, can help to protect the heart, reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Now just because a little may be a ‘good’ thing, does not mean more is necessarily better. Wines contain high levels of procyanidins – a class of flavanols (also found in tea and cocoa), in this case found in grapes (particularly the skins) that may confer these benefits. Also within the skin of red grapes is a compound called resveratrol. Recently however, it has been discounted that this compound provides any real beneficial effect. It is important to know that even in moderate amounts, alcohol increases the risk of several cancers and has been estimated to cause around 12,500 cases of cancer a year in the UK.
So how did you do?
Any thoughts or questions, please fire away!
Enjoy the upcoming festivities but don’t forget to drink sensibly 🙂