The effects associated with alcohol consumption remain unknown for many people. Do you really know all the risks? The explanations and advice are from the nutritionist Vítor Guerra.

In the coming Christmas season, few are able to resist a drink, with a greater or lesser alcohol content. In fact, alcohol is almost as old as humanity itself, since the fermentation of fruit has never been a mystery to man and, therefore, this type of beverage has existed since ancient times.

However, it must be borne in mind that there are two alcohol production processes that condition the alcohol content in the drink: fermentation, through which a microorganism called yeast transforms sugar into alcohol (for example, wine, beer, cider, champagne), and distillation, which consists of the concentration of alcohol present in fermented liquids (eg whiskey, brandy, gin, vodka).

The benefits and harms associated with the consumption of this type of beverages remain unknown for many people that are worth clarifying.

It is known that the high consumption of alcoholic beverages often results in serious health consequences, with the scientific relationship between their consumption and the manifestation of more than 200 diseases, namely cardiac disorders, anemia, infectious, liver, pneumonia and depression. In addition, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is associated with changes in fetal development, which can lead, in extreme cases, to multiple disabilities.

Even the occasional consumption of wine and / or beer increases the risk of health problems, although the presence of resveratrol, mainly in red wine, is associated with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The truth is that its protective effect can be canceled out by the amount ingested each day, because “less is good, but zero is better”, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Furthermore, in nutritional terms, alcohol has no nutrient, providing 7 calories per gram of alcohol, called “empty calories”, which can jeopardize any diet and still condition the absorption of vitamins A, C, B1, B3, B2, B6 and decrease the concentration of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.

It is important to mention that alcohol affects men and women differently, since women tend to have less capacity to metabolize alcohol, compared to men. The amount of alcohol and calories in each drink is variable, and should be consumed within the limits of healthy eating patterns.

In order to quantify alcohol consumption, the concept of standard or standard drink was created, through which it is possible to calculate the amount of alcohol consumed daily or weekly.

Although alcoholic beverages have different grades, the glasses most commonly used for different drinks have an identical amount of alcohol, which corresponds to a standard drink unit with about 10 to 12 g of pure alcohol. This fact allows the quantification by units of drinks ingested, which facilitates the calculation of the total of drinks consumed.

In men, between 18 and 64 years old, the maximum recommended daily amount is two standard drinks or 20g of pure alcohol. After age 65, the maximum recommended daily amount is reduced to a standard drink or 10g of pure alcohol.

In women the maximum daily recommended amount is a standard drink or 10g of pure alcohol at any age.