Boozing: how much is too much?

Alcohol can be enjoyable and get a good buzz going, especially when the festive season arrives. When you’re having a great time, it’s difficult to keep track of the amount of booze you’re throwing back, but it’s important to protect your health. And, to do this, you need to know your drinking limits.

What’s the damage?

Once alcohol reaches your bloodstream, it spreads to every organ in your body. Over time excessive (also called binge drinking) harms your health as it damages your organs. Remember, these organs are responsible for keeping your body systems in good working order.

Your liver

When you toss back a few drinks you probably aren’t thinking, “This is going to really damage my liver”, but maybe you should be. Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body as it is responsible for sorting through everything that enters it. It gets rid of anything that is harmful for your body and makes use of anything helpful. Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess can damage your liver over time, so much so that it loses its ability to function, causing liver disease such as fatty liver, cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.

Your brain

Wonder why you do silly things when you’ve had too much to drink? Blame it on the alcohol! Alcohol interrupts your brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way your brain looks and works. These disruptions can change your mood, behaviour, and thought processes, affecting your ability to make sensible, rational decisions.

Your skin

Everything looks and feels better when you’re wasted, but after long-term drinking, your skin won’t. Alcohol dilates your blood vessels, making them more prone to damage. It saps you of water, making your skin look dry and sallow. Alcohol is also high in sugar, which can damage your skin cells and age your skin rapidly.

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Drink smart

  • Figure out how much alcohol your body can really tolerate. Monitor how many drinks it takes for you to get drunk. Then, stop drinking at least two drinks before your limit.
  • Stick to the recommended daily limit of one alcoholic drink for women and two for men.
  • Pace yourself. Drink slowly and not in gulps. Alternate every drink with a glass of water.
  • Make sure you eat before you drink. Eat foods like chicken, brown rice or sweet potatoes before you drink as these foods are slowly absorbed by your body. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable and your body will absorb alcohol more slowly.
  • Avoid salty foods that will make you thirsty and make you drink more.
  • Switch between alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Try to have one drink per hour, as your liver takes roughly an hour to work the alcohol out of your system.

If you struggle to say no to alcohol, or you’re worried in any way that you may have a problem, speak to one of our doctors. Just log into the member section, and request a doctor call. Our doctors can have a private, confidential conversation with you, and support you to find help.