Thursday, 17 November 2011

Blurred lines

This evening on my way home from work I saw something that really saddened me. I watched a Big Issue Seller sell a copy and then rush straight into M&S and buy some cheap alcohol with the proceeds as if their life depended on it.

Alcohol for a lot of people has positive associations of celebrations, fun nights out and being pleasently tipsy. However it's important to remember that alcohol is a drug which is why it can be such a destructive force in peoples lives and to society. Just the cost to the NHS from alcohol related disease or treating injuries caused by alcohol is astronomic and such a terrible waste when money is short and needed for much more worthwhile treatments.

In fact I'm pretty sure that were it invented today alcohol would be never be licensed, and that may be no bad thing. But when consumed sensibly, and by those not pre-disposed to addiction, I think it can be an enjoyable treat without being harmful.

Still the problem is a lot of people don't have alcohol as a treat, they have it as a regular part of their diet - often drinking daily, without thinking this is bad for them. However having more than one medium glass of wine a day, as a woman means you're already over the government limit - and that's a recommended maximum to avoid harm - not a target to hit!

Regulalry drinking over the limit can lead to heart disease, liver disease, depression, mood disorders, reduced libido, weight gain, hypothyroidism, increased risk of cancer ... the list goes on. But even if you haven't got any of these yet (I hope you don't) prevention is so much better and easier than cure, especially in the case of alcohol. Even reduced energy, hard to shift dark circles under the eyes and a bit of a muffin top/spare tyre are signs you could benefit from a break.

Personally I think it's best to avoid drinking during the week when possible and to limit alcohol to two nights a week. In addition, I think it's extremely beneficial to have one month off all drugs including tobacco, caffeine and alcohol every year to give your body a proper break.

If the idea of giving any of those up for a whole month horrifies you that's a pretty good sign that it's something you should do. Maybe not right now - but sometime after Christmas when the social calendar is emptier and less hard to navigate sober.

By the end of the month you'll likely feel full of energy, be sleeping better, have better skin, have lost spare weight and be in a much better mood. I gave up for three months and felt so significantly better that I never went back to regular drinking. A couple of glasses of champagne a month is more than enough for me!

Ps The current government advice for pregnancy is not to drink any alcohol, which I entirely agree with, a developing featus is extremely sensitive and you should limit it's exposure to toxins as much as possible, including tobacco, over the counter or illegal drugs, caffeine and alcohol. I would, however, go further and say that anyone trying for a baby should also not drink as you will likely be pregnant for a couple of weeks before knowing. In addition drinking alcohol reduces fertility in both men and women so guys should also stay off the beers for the best chance of conceiving.

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