August 23, 2018 11:49 am
Updated: August 23, 2018 2:20 pm

Here’s a breakdown of what alcohol does to your body

WATCH: Sunjeev Kaboj, a brain scientist, outlines the health impacts on the human brain of too much alcohol.

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Having a few social drinks every weekend may not seem like much, but experts say excessive drinking over time can do all kinds of damage to our bodies.

Registered dietitian Melissa Murray at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto said it’s commonly accepted to engage in some type of drinking in social situations, adding most of us don’t really have an idea of how many calories or how much sugar we’re consuming.

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“If the calories and sugar were listed [like at bars or restaurants] people might make a different choice,” she told Global News. “Sometimes not seeing those numbers can definitely be out of sight, out of mind.”

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She adds for women, the moderate alcohol consumption recommendation is two drinks per day with a maximum of 10 per week and three for men a day, with a maximum of 15 per week.

“This doesn’t mean you can save them up and have them at one time,” she explained.

Portion sizes also matter. One serving of beer is 12 ounces, one serving of wine is five ounces and one serving of hard liquor is 1.5 ounces. “The different sizes are due to the percentage of alcohol in the drinks.”

And while there have been countless studies on red wine being beneficial to our cardiovascular health or even extending life expectancy, Murray adds this should never be an incentive to start drinking more red wine.

“Drinking less is always going to outweigh the potential benefits of having red wine every day.”

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Murray adds excessive alcohol can interfere with quality sleep and cause liver damage over time. Below, she goes through some of the other ways that alcohol can impact your body.

Skin

Your skin needs fluids to stay hydrated (just like the rest of your body), so when you’re drinking excessively, your skin also becomes dehydrated. “Drinking fluids [like water] is one of the most important aspects for your skin to keep looking healthy and elastic.”

In the summer, she recommends people who sit outside on patios or drink in the heat to have a glass of water between each drink.

Weight

“Alcohol itself has a lot of calories… one gram of alcohol has about seven calories,” Murray explained. If you’re over-consuming calories through alcohol and not burning it off, this can lead to weight gain over time.

Additionally, when you mix alcohol with other sugary and calorie-filled drinks like pop or juice, you’re only adding extra calories to your drink.

Digestion

Murray adds excessive alcohol over time can damage the intestines and lead to diarrhea. Alcohol consumption over many years can also cause the development of ulcers.

Hormones

Alcohol can also impact your hormone level too, Murray adds, disrupting your metabolism, fertility and sexual function as well.

READ MORE: Do you have the binge drinking gene? Scientists suggest some prefer alcohol more than others

Heart

“Over time alcohol can cause damage to the muscle of the heart,” Murray explained.

She said this can potentially lead to heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke.

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

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