Middle-aged adults not only drink the most alcohol, they can't give it up: poll

There is no amount of liquor, beer or wine that is safe for your overall health, according to a new global study.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone middle-aged — giving up alcohol is one of the hardest things you can do.

According to a recent poll by YouGov in the U.K., people between the ages of 45 and 65 are more likely to consume more than 14 units per week (or six pints of beer), the Guardian reported. The poll also found cutting back on alcohol was harder than committing to daily exercise or trying to eat healthily.

The poll, in partnership with Public Health England and a local alcohol education charity, also released a campaign to encourage people in this age group to have “drink-free” days to cut back on consumption.

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

“Having a day off drinking gives you a chance to clean your system and give your liver a rest. It also has an immediate impact on your sleep and calorie consumption,” said Dr. Julia Verne, a spokesperson with Public Health England to the site. “People have also told us that the idea of a ‘drink-free’ day is much easier to manage than cutting down, say, from one large glass of wine to a small glass of wine.”

The age group matters

Registered dietitian and blogger Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen agreed, and added excess alcohol (in any age group) can increase the risk of liver damage.

“It harder over time for your liver to break down alcohol causing a buildup of toxins in your body,” she told Global News. “Excess alcohol intake is closely linked to our blood pressure, which increases the risk of hypertension — a condition that middle-aged adults are already at risk of.”

She said by the time we reach our 40s, we start to see a marked decline in metabolism, making it harder for us to lose weight when overconsuming alcohol.

“I always say that rather than focusing on what to drink, just focus on how much to drink. Whatever your favourite drink is, enjoy it, but do so in moderation.”

READ MORE: Buck-a-beer a ‘lousy idea’ for public health, alcohol experts say

In terms of daily drink allowances, Canadian women should not be drinking more than 10 drinks per week, with no more than two drinks a day. This number is 15 drinks per week for men with no more than three drinks a day.

As the U.K.-based poll pointed out, 14 units is about six pints per day, seven glasses of wine or 14 single shots of hard liquor.

However Sharp added the sizing in Canada is slightly different. One drink is about 12 ounces of beer or cider (which is less than a pint) or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol. For wines, it seems to be the same at 175 millilitres per medium-sized glass.

“If you’re not a wine lover but you’re choosing a glass of red for the antioxidant benefits, you’re likely to need to drink more of it to get the same pleasure you may have derived from just one of your favourite gin and tonics,” she added.

Health risks

And besides liver damage and the increased risk of hypertension, excessive alcohol can disrupt all parts of our bodies including our skin, weight, hormones and digestion.

READ MORE: You should definitely not mix these medications with alcohol

Health experts like registered dietitian Melissa Murray at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto told Global News excessive alcohol over time can damage the intestines and lead to diarrhea. Alcohol consumption over many years can also cause the development of ulcers.

A ‘drink-free’ day

While simply cutting out all forms of alcohol isn’t the most practical fix for middle-aged adults, Sharp said the challenge is one worth taking up.

“Everyone can benefit from cutting back on alcohol to help protect our liver and also prevent unnecessary weight gain,” she continued.

“I think planning non-drinking days every week can help to avoid developing a habit. Try making a fun mocktail recipe a few days a week so you feel like you’re enjoying something festive, but without the booze.”

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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