Binge drinking: too much of a good thing!
This is a tricky topic, isn’t it? We live in a culture awash with alcohol, where nearly all our social occasions revolve around consuming alcohol. Many of us enjoy a drink, myself included, and don’t consider ourselves as alcoholics. Yet, as a community generally, drinking to excess is fairly commonplace. There is a lot of peer pressure to have another one, particularly amongst younger drinkers. The problem of excessive drinking, and the anti-social effects that follow it, had escalated to such an extent in Newcastle that a curfew on the sale of alcohol was introduced in 2008. Since then the so-called Newcastle Model has been introduced in other areas of NSW to address the problem of binge drinking.
Apart from the social implications, of particular concern are the health consequences of excessive drinking. When we are young we think that we are “bullet-proof”. However, we can do a lot of damage to our health by binge-drinking regularly. For the first time in living memory it seems that our younger generations are likely to have poorer health outcomes than our older folk. That means that, for those who don’t pull themselves off the slippery slope, they are more likely to die prematurely from degenerative lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers. Alcohol is a sugar, and sugar is the driver of many of these malfunctions.
And, if those outcomes seem a long way off, in the shorter term, binge drinking affects us hormonally and has a hugely negative impact on our fertility. So, if you are considering having a baby, ideally both the Mum and the Dad should abstain from alcohol for three months prior to conception; or at least keep it to a minimum. Also, a general spring clean of both bodies will help ensure the best quality genetic material for the new baby. (See pages on Detox and Fertility.) The really good news is that many of the negative effects of binge drinking can be reversed with some manageable dietary and lifestyle changes.
Tips to help reduce alcohol consumption:
If you feel it may be time to turn over a new leaf, try some of these strategies:
- Avoid “girlie” mixed drinks. They contain way too much sugar and are too easy to drink quickly.
- Avoid beer. It is too oestrogenic for the guys, and not good for girls with endometriosis or PCOS issues.
- Replace with good quality, preferably organic, red wine. It costs more so you’ll drink it more slowly.
- White wine contains histamines that make it less preferable. It is more mucus-producing.
- Alternate glasses of alcohol with glasses of mineral or soda water, or just plain water.
- Never drink on an empty stomach. It’s always better to consume alcohol with a meal.
- Don’t drink caffeinated drinks, eg. Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull, in conjunction with alcohol. They stimulate your appetite for more.
- Avoid getting into “shouts” so you don’t have to keep up with your friends.
- Avoid “top-ups”. Drink one drink at a time to keep track of how much you are drinking.
- Go home a bit earlier!
You can still have fun, but will have more energy the next day, and guarantee yourself a longer, healthier life.