Confused about How Much Wine is Too Much? You're Not Alone

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Photo by Kyle Loftus  | Article edited by Ally Analore

Wine drinking may not live up to all it's cracked up to be. Limiting wine intake is essential to a higher quality of life long-term. Yes, there are certain claimed health benefits to sipping on that glass of pinot that you so desperately crave after a long workday. These alleged health benefits range from reduction of free radicals to weight loss to heart health.

Trust us. We are not trying to ruin your day. Moderate wine drinking has been shown to possess enormous benefits including heart health, preventing cancer, slowing memory loss and many more. However, it is possible to overdo it.

Sonia Rao from The Washington Post did some research on the topic and found "this year's State of Wine Industry report claims that millennials are set to ‘surpass Gen Xers to become the largest fine wine-consuming cohort' by 2026".

Essentially, the wine industry is not hurting, but let's dive a little deeper into why it is crucial to limit your weekly wine intake.

Women and Men Process Alcohol Differently

It is important to understand how alcohol impacts the female body.

The Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines recommends up to two drinks for men per day and only one for women. Chemically, women, once again, draw the short end of the straw when it comes to issues both genders must deal with. Here's how: There is an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). This little enzyme in your stomach is responsible for breaking down the alcohol you consume. Women do not have as much ADH active in their bodies as men. So, they are unable to process as much alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. Because women often have a higher blood alcohol content than men.

So, next time you challenge your male friend to go drink-for-drink, remember this. The odds are against you.

Body composition is another reason to take it easy at the bar. According to an article by Lexi Williams in Wine Spectator Magazine, "women tend to have less body water than men, and because alcohol is highly water-soluble, that is one reason women have a higher blood-alcohol content (BAC) than men even when consuming the same amount.”

One piece of advice to limit the wine intake and to ultimately prevent a nasty hangover is to keep drinking water all night long. If you are out with friends, order water every other time you order a drink. Don't let yourself order more alcohol until you finish that cup of water.

Why Your Health is at Risk?

Yes, red wine is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also loaded with sugar.

There is a fine line between moderate drinking and heavy drinking. Even for those with the strongest willpower, it is sometimes hard to limit yourself to one glass, especially if you are at an event. Heavy drinking has been associated with several diseases.

An analysis by Harvard School of Public Health describes a slew of health risks to heavy drinking. It not only claims that heavy drinking can cause several cancers, but also inflammation of the liver, liver disease, increased blood pressure and a damaged heart muscle.

Another major concern is the potential for developing alcohol use disorder or dependence on alcohol. According to the National Institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, "drinking four or more drinks on any given day or drinking eight or more drinks in a typical week increases a woman's risk of developing alcohol abuse.”

Researchers have extensively studied the effects of wine on our physical and mental health. Weighing the risks and benefits of moderate drinking is crucial.

Socially, it has become a norm to have a few glasses of wine with dinner, at a party or simply at home to unwind after a long day.

Be careful not to get caught in the trap of believing that an unlimited amount of wine won't do any long-term damage to your health.

One way to limit your wine intake throughout the week is to designate certain days for drinking. On other days, substitute a glass of wine for green tea, or maybe kombucha if you want that satisfying, fermented taste. Another trick is to only buy one bottle of wine at a time. It is easy to go overboard when you have an unlimited supply waiting for you in the pantry.

By drinking less, you learn to appreciate it more, and your palate may even change. By drinking less, you are spending less, which means you can splurge on a fancier bottle of wine as a reward.