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In most cultures around the globe, alcohol is synonymous with dining. Alcohol is sometimes added to sauces and other food to enrich and enhance the flavor. Cooking removes the alcohol content from the food and simply leaves the food with an unsurpassed richness.  So what exactly is alcohol? There are gazillion types of alcohol available today. Did you know that alcoholic drinks can be produced from fruits, vegetables, grains and from even stuff like honey, milk and sugar. Lets take a look at the following

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Strength of alcohol

Some say in lower amounts alcohol can be beneficial for the human body because of certain medicinal properties. At higher levels, alcohol can be detrimental to health. It can also be lethal if mixed with other chemicals or medication. So how much is too much? This is dependent of what type of alcoholic drink you want to have.  Lets take a look at some of the common alcoholic drinks and their respective  alcohol content(strength).

Vodka:40-95%

Scotch:40%–63.5%

Gin:36-50%

Rum:36-50%

Whiskey:36-50%

Beer:4-6%

So now that we've established the percentage of alcohol in various drinks, it is important to talk of another term that is used to denote the strength of alcohol in the drink. This term is called 'proof'. Proof of an alcohol is  twice the alcohol content. So if a bottle says's it is  80 proof, it means that the alcohol content is 40%.

Alcohol and the calories count

So, you might say I'm on a 'no-chocolate and no-sweets diet'.But, did you know that a glass of wine has almost the same amount of calories in the chocolate that you steered clear off? What about that packet of crisps that you had during the day? Turns out a pint of 5% strength beer has about the same amount of calories as a packet of crisps!

A pot belly is a common sight amongst beer lovers. So much so, that it is known as a beer belly! The trim waistline that you once had has now turned into a paunch, thanks to all the extra fat you've so lovingly deposited because of the one too many beers you've had. Lets not say cheers to that! So are we saying that beer is responsible for that paunch you can't seem to shake off? Not exactly. What happens is that when you indulge in an alcoholic drink, it makes your liver work to burn the alcohol instead of burning the fat. So, this is why over indulgence in alcohol can actually damage the liver. Let's look into some tips to safely consume alcohol without tipping the scale

Tips to avoid weight gain:

  • It is highly advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • Alcohol must not be consumed on an empty stomach.
  • Snacking while drinking alcohol is common. Why not try and substitute the drinks with a healthier snack option! This doesn't mean you can eat healthy and go on a binge drinking spree saying you are eating healthy.
  • Opt out of drinking in rounds however fun it may seem to be. Drink at your own pace.
  • Take small sips, do not try to gulp down.
  • Adding a splash of soda water to your white wine drink can help your drink last longer.

How long does alcohol take to exit our body?

Depending on your age, your food intake, strength of the alcohol you've had, your metabolism and underlying health conditions alcohol can take different amount of time to exit your body. Roughly, it would be something like this.

About 250 ml of wine can take about 3 hours to break down in our body. 450 ml of beer would take about 2 hours. Anything stronger can take a lot longer to be broken down by our liver.

Hangover-the bitter side effect of booze

Anyone who has had one too many drinks can relate to the pulsing headache, the nausea and the dehydration the morning after a night out.

Tips to enjoy a wonderful night out without a hangover

  • Pace yourself. Know your limits and how much you can cope. 
  • Do not try to establish the fact that you can hold your drink by drowning down drinks.
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach. 
  • Have a meal that includes carbohydrates or fats. This could include stuff like meat, rice or pasta. Such food will help slow down the body's absorption of alcohol.
  • Dark-colored drinks contain natural chemicals which irritate the blood vessels in the brain and can make a hangover much worse.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water or non-fizzy soft drinks in between each alcoholic drink. 
  • Drink about 500 ml of water before you hit the bed.
  • If you aren't too tipsy, remember to keep a glass of water by the bed to sip in case you wake up in the middle of your sleep feeling thirsty.  

Risks of drinking alcohol 

  • Alcohol consumption has long been under the spotlight for a lot of diseases like cancer, liver disease, brain damage and even heart disease.
  • Alcohol has been responsible for may road accidents claiming millions of lives every year.
  • Many have sworn that whatever foolish, daring acts they did was under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol reduces inhibition and makes you lose the ability to think rationally.
  • Alcohol makes you loose self control. Research suggests that, thanks to alcohol there are rising cases of unplanned pregnancies as a result of unprotected sex.

Putting a full stop to your drinking habits

  • You've long wanted to cut down and have always been on the cheering team cheering a beloved one to stop. Lets get you started. It could be hard, but we promise, it will be worth it. You will never regret it.
  • Jot down your plan.You must write down how much and what you drink during the week. Yup, you've got to do this homework. This is definitely going to help you.This will help you evise your game plan to stop drinking alcohol.
  • Now that you know much you are drinking. Setting a limit to what you plan to drink is key. Slowly taper off or wean yourself off by gradually reducing the amount and the frequency.
  • Identify the times you find yourself reaching for a bottle. Reeling from a bad break-up or a difficult day at the office? Deliberately distract yourself from your depressing or anxious state of mind at the moment and choose to do some other activity. Exercise is a good option and is specially helpful to get your endorphins up and running.
  • Carry only a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol when on a night out. This will help you keep a tab on the quantity of booze you could be tempted to have. 
  • Having a relative or a friend to support you and to help you stick with your plan is a good idea. Not only does this offer a moral support but you would try your best to stick to your plan because someone else is aware of your decision to stop drinking alcohol.
  • Reward yourself once you hit a target of sticking to your plan. Say, at one week of sobriety, you pamper yourself with a spa or some fine dining experience. Make sure you do not treat yourself for drinking less alcohol by drinking more wine. That is just taking a step back!
  • Staying hydrated is key to helping you put a tab on your drinking habits. Have a glass of water before indulging in an alcoholic drink. 

Benefits of cutting down on alcohol

The most prominent effects include: 

  • Better mornings
  • Being more energetic and less groggy during the day
  • Radiant healthy skin
  • General feeling of wellness
  • Better control over weight gain
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Taking more sensible decisions and choices.
  • Increased immunity and health. 

Mixing alcohol and drugs

Youngsters these days have resorted to mixing alcohol with drugs. This is done to achieve a buzz or in other words to get more intoxicated. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks is also a new trend. There can be serious health complications that arise from such abuse. Some drugs when mixed with alcohol can cause lethal complications.

Research findings on alcohol consumption

  • Consuming alcohol while pregnant can pose serious health problems for the fetus. Doctors strictly recommend to completely stay clear of alcohol if your trying to conceive or are pregnant. During gestation, liver develops only in the last stages of pregnancy. Consuming alcohol can lead to serious anomalies in an unborn baby because their bodies cannot process alcohol like ours.Read more about fetal alcohol syndrome here.
    • Drinking alcohol, in the first trimester, increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.
    • Drinking after the first three months of your pregnancy could affect your baby after they're born and even cause Fetal alcoholic syndrome.
  • Research conducted by Cancer research UK has found that  alcohol consumption can alter DNA composition and can also cause cause cancer.
  • European College of Neuropsychopharmacology has revealed that alcohol consumption can alter brain functioning in men and women. These changes were long term and on regular alcohol consumption such detrimental effects could be permanent.
  • Research suggests that on an average since 1982, one-third of all traffic accidents are as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol. Many a times an individual is not able to assess how many drinks they can handle. This is heavily dependent upon the age, gender, strength of the drink, diet and the metabolism of the person.
  • A groundbreaking research was conducted by the researchers at Northwestern university revealing hat two commonly used drugs were capable of reversing the negative effects of Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome. When administered to newborns suffering from Fetal Alcoholic syndrome, the memory loss deficits were reversed. This could also help treat the mother of these children.
  • It seems that alcohol can affect future generations- another reason why pregnant mothers should not drink alcohol. The abnormalities caused due to alcohol consumption by a pregnant mother can pass transgenerationally. This was a finding by the researchers at University of California – Riverside.

Celebrities who died of alcohol /drug poisoning

Amy Winehouse: She was a famous English singer songwriter who died from alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27.

Bobbi Kristina Brown: American TV personality and daughter of Whitney Houston drowned and died later as a result of interations between marijuana, alcohol and anxiety medicine.

Cory Monteith: He played the character Finn Hudson in Glee and died in 2013 by consuming a lethal mix of alcohol and heroin.

Peaches Geldof: Peached Geldof, the daughter of famous TV presenter Paula Yates 

Derek Boogaard: Boogaard was a famous Canadian ice hockey player who died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and oxycodone. His death was due to the interaction between alcohol and prescription drugs.

Richard Burton: Burton was an exceptional Shakespearean actor of his age. He died from alcohol poisoning.

Jon Bonham: He was the famous drummer in the British rock band Led Zeppelin. He died due to alcoholism at the age of 32.

Jimi Hendrix : Jimi was an American musician and singer-songwriter who died from an alcohol and barbiturate overdose.

Please do not take this article as a reference for your drinking habits. We highly recommend you pace yourself and drink responsibly.