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In the news: The prosecco shortage and our drinking habits

If you have been keeping an eye on the news this week, you may have noticed reports of an imminent prosecco shortage. Whilst this may not bother most people, it’s certainly a good opportunity to reassess our drinking habits and how we deal with alcohol.

Especially in summer, it is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are drinking alchohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that you will need to empty your bladder more often. The headache and excessively dry mouth we commonly associate with a hangover is also connected to dehydration. For every 1g of alcohol consumed, 10ml more of urine will be excreted. Furthermore, alcohol reduces your production of a hormone called vasopressin, which your kidneys require to know when to reabsorb water, as opposed to excreting it directly via your bladder. Thus, your bladder fills up with fluid more quickly when you have been drinking. Just drinking alcohol with less quantities of liquid involved, e.g. shots, will not reduce this effect, as it is actually the diuretic not the alcohol making you need to pass water.

If you are drinking alcohol, it is important to consume adequate quantities of water and it is often advisable to intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft drinks. It is also highly advisable to make sure you know your recommended limits regarding units of alcohol. The recommended limits differ for men and women. For example, it is recommended that men do not exceed 3-4 units of alcohol a day, which is approximately equivalent to a pint and a half of beer. Women are recommended to not exceed 2-3 units of alcohol a day, which is approximately equivalent to a pint of beer or medium glass of wine.

If you find it difficult to keep track of how many units are contained in your favourite beverages, you can keep an eye on this on the move with various smartphone alcohol diary apps and text services available from the NHS. This template for keeping a drinks diary could also help you reconsider your alcohol consumption.

If you want to assess your own drinking and your relationship with alcohol, you can use this online tool from Drinkaware. If you then feel you may be consuming too much alcohol, Change 4 Life offers plenty of tips on how to reduce your alcohol consumption in a practical and achievable way.

For more information about alcohol, units and health risks, visit Know Your Limits.

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