Alcohol at a bar is like coffee at a café, and alcohol with a meal out, is like coffee or tea after a meal. It’s common. However, it’s common to the point where it causes some scary statistics. Alcohol-use disorder is estimated to affect nearly one in five New Zealanders at some time in their lives. On the other hand, alcohol is the only substance that affects the function of the brain by being both a nutrient and a drug. How so? Read more...
What is alcohol?
Alcohol (ethanol) is produced by fermenting sugars from different foods with yeasts. This process dates back to pre-historic times producing a variety of alcoholic beverages developed all around the world. This includes wine from grapes, saké from rice, beer from malted barley, and vodka from potatoes and other foods.
Do I need alcohol?
Modest consumption of alcohol may provide certain health benefits, however the relationship is complex. Small doses have been shown to have positive benefits for cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes, but higher intakes can also have negative effects. The antioxidant properties in wine have received much attention. However, a variety of antioxidants can be sourced from natural foods without the high calories and in much safer doses. If you don't drink, there is no need to start. AlcoholNZ has a great quiz to see how your alcohol habits rate.
How many calories does alcohol contain?
Alcoholic beverages vary in their total calorie content, especially if they are mixers with other alcohols and sugary drinks. However, alcohol as a macronutrient per gram has almost the same amount of calories as fat. Liquid calories in drinks are often missed, and every calorie counts, no matter its source. If you’re not careful, a couple standard glasses of wine with an evening meal, and you may end up having eaten half your calories for breakfast the next day!
Why does alcohol have an adverse effect on the body?
Alcohol gets V.I.P treatment in the body. Being one of the few nutrients that get absorbed from the stomach, about 20 percent is absorbed through an empty stomach wall, affecting signals to the brain. Hence, the standard advice is not to drink on an empty stomach. Women also absorb about one-third more alcohol than men given the same amount, thus recommendations for women are lower alcohol tolerance levels. There is no level of drinking that is safe for all people all the time, so it’s important to be savvy.
Where do I find out how much alcohol is in each drink?
One standard drink equals 10 grams of alcohol. Read the label and some drinks may have a ‘standard drink’ symbol for easy comparison. Don’t get caught out with beers – light beers do not necessarily mean fewer calories, and low-carb beers do not necessarily mean less alcohol. Again, always read the label. Check AlcoholNZ for their drink chart and guide to standard drinks.
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