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Safe drinking

You have been out on the beer every night this week and the party invites are still flooding in. Follow our simple tips to protect your body and mind.

The amount of alcohol a person consumes is measured in units. Here are some rough examples of what makes up a typical unit:

  • Half a pint of beer or cider = 1.5 units;
  • A small glass (125ml) of wine = 1.5 units;
  • A single measure of spirits (e.g. whisky, vodka, rum or gin) = one unit.
Most of us like a tipple. How much booze do you consume and what are the recommended limits?

What is acceptable?

Men: As a rule, health experts say that a man should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day. In real terms, this means blokes shouldn't exceed two pints of lager or beer, or three glasses of wine a day.
Women: Health experts recommend women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units a day. In real terms this is a pint or a couple of glasses of wine a day.

Why is there a gender difference?

The male body is made up of 66 per cent fluid, compared to 55 per cent for women. This means alcohol is more diluted in a man's body than a woman's. As a result, women tend to get drunk faster than men on the same amount of alcohol. 

Ways to drink safely

  • Drink plenty of water, especially during your boozing session. Pacing yourself in this way should ensure your body doesn't dry out too badly. A pint of water before you head horizontal can also see off any headaches.

  • Eat well before you drink and your body will be better equipped to soak up the stuff. Go for food that takes a long time to digest, such as bread, cheese, potato and pasta, as this will line your stomach. A pint of milk is also thought to have the same effect.

  • Try not to mix your drinks, because you're only adding to the number of toxins that your body has to deal with. If you're planning on a session then stick to one kind of falling-down juice. That way you won't crash out so badly.

  • Try turning up to the bar or party later than usual, to minimise your drinking time, or kick off with a soft drink to stop you feeling so thirsty.

  • Binge drinking is dangerous, as your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour. If you can pace your drinking, and know when enough is enough, your system won't floor you the next day. Before you start drinking, be sure you know when to stop. This can be hard when everyone else is boozing, but practise makes perfect. It also avoids bad hangovers.

  • A hair of the dog drink might help blunt your headache, basically by making you drunk again, but all you're doing is delaying the inevitable alcohol comedown.

  • Finally when the party time is over take a break from boozing - set aside an alcohol-free period every now and then. It might be one day in a week or a month, but this respite will boost your health no end.

Updated: 03/02/2012

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