What do summer barbeques, city festivals, and that after-work softball league all have in common? Most likely, alcohol! Summer is a time when alcohol becomes a staple beverage at events across America. The temps increase, the days grow longer, and people take full advantage of the pleasant weather by sharing it with good company. When enjoyed responsibly, alcohol can have health advantages, but moderation is definitely a key.
How much is moderate?
According to the most recent dietary guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Heavy or high-risk drinking is consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven per week for women and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 per week for men.
Binge drinking is the consumption of four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men within a two-hour timeframe.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can increase the risk for hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers. It is thought to be responsible for 79,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Potential health benefits*
Alcohol consumed in moderation may provide certain health benefits. It has been shown to reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease and stroke, and may even reduce the risk of diabetes.
Guidelines make it clear, however, that no one should start drinking or drink alcohol more frequently purely because of health benefits.
The major takeaway is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to drink alcohol. However, if you do drink alcohol and you are already in a healthy habit, there's probably no need to stop as long as you continue to drink responsibly and do so in moderation.
For more information on alcohol, check out our online Health Center.
*There are certain situations when the risks of alcohol use may outweigh the possible health benefits. Always consult your doctor prior to altering your behaviors or starting a new diet.