Consumer Reports

Reconsider Turning to Alcohol During Pandemic

NBCUniversal, Inc.

These are anxious times for many. Some might be dealing with economic hardship, teaching kids at home, or with boredom from being inside. All of this could lead some light to moderate drinkers to overindulge.

The sales of alcohol for home consumption was 22% higher this March compared with last year. And with wine and beer delivery and carryout cocktails now permitted in many areas, Consumer Reports says this can come with potential downsides.

Heavy drinking is not healthy, can damage the liver and heart, and can cause other health problems. But even moderate drinking may be harmful over time, increasing the risk for some cancers and affecting the good gut bacteria and their ability to protect against illness, according to Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor Patricia Calvo.

And even small amounts of alcohol can interact with some medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

For most people, a glass of wine or beer with dinner, or on a Zoom call with friends, is generally fine. But it's important not to overdo it, so try to stick to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man, according to Calvo.

Calvo goes on to state to be sure to know what actually counts as one drink such as it's probably less than one might think: 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine, or 1.5 ounces for a shot of spirits. And because wine glasses come in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, use a measuring cup.

Calvos suggests skipping that extra glass of wine before bed, even though as many as 20% of Americans have said they use alcohol to fall asleep.

Alcohol may help some nod off, but it interferes with brain changes that occur in the later stages of sleep. So one might not sleep as well, or may even wake up in the middle of the night.

Drinking water is suggested. Good hydration helps cells function and the body eliminate waste, which enables the immune system to work better. And it prevents headaches and muscle fatigue, aids digestion, and even boosts one's mood.

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