We all know how bad heavy drinking is for your body, your brain, your cancer risk, and more. But while moderate alcohol consumption is still widely accepted, how much damage is it doing to us? Is it enough for us to stop drinking altogether?
Huberman Lab had an episode called What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health that discusses this. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as14 drinks a week for men and seven drinks a week for women. While there’s plenty of research on the impacts that drinking more than that has on the body, there aren’t nearly as many seeing what happens when drinking under that amount.
There are a few factors of drinking that persist even when not under the influence of alcohol. That impulsive behavior you might feel while tipsy or drunk actually carries on long after you stop feeling the other effects of alcohol consumption. People who drink also have higher cortisol levels even when not drinking—one of the things that often lead to that dangerous cycle of addiction. And the increased risk of cancer kicks in with just one drink and only goes up as you drink more.
There are things you can do to mitigate the impacts of alcohol on your body. Making sure to take care of your gut, which alcohol can wreak havoc on, can reduce several of the short-term downsides of alcohol consumption. Making sure you are hydrating, especially with electrolytes, is also a must. Folate and B12 have been said to reduce the risk of cancer associated with drinking as well.
Overall, it’s important to know the risks and make the judgment for yourself. It’s okay to pick your pleasures and try not to freak out over them. Living a healthy life doesn’t mean living joylessly, so feel free to live your life on your terms.
- What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain & Health – Huberman Lab
- Associations between alcohol consumption and gray and white matter volumes in the UK Biobank
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