Welcome to Week 4 of our Rock the Walk 2020 Challenge! We’re all about boosting your immunity during this year’s challenge. For this fourth week of our wellness challenge, we’re focusing on ALCOHOL and its effects on immunity.
Most people would agree that 2020 has been a bit more stressful and uncertain than in past years. If everything feels more challenging right now, you’re not alone.
So how are Wisconsinites coping? Increased alcohol sales and reports from medical providers suggest that we’re drinking more. More alcohol, to be exact. While having a drink might offer temporary relief, drinking more might be hurting you more than you realize. How? For one, increased alcohol consumption can make you more vulnerable to COVID-19, the flu and other illnesses.
You may have heard that a glass of red wine has health benefits. You’ve probably also heard that drinking too much has health risks. So what’s the deal?
It comes down to how much you drink. Studies show that while moderate drinking might reduce your risk of heart disease (the jury is still out), heavy and/or binge drinking increases your risk of:
It’s probably less than you realize. Moderate drinking for a woman is 1 drink/day (or less). Moderate drinking for a man is 2 drinks/day (or less). Anything over that, and you move into the heavy or excessive drinking category.
In other words, if you tend to be a moderate drinker and you find yourself drinking a little more in 2020, you might need to reclassify yourself as a heavy drinker. And, those few extra drinks might be putting you at risk of developing a lot of long-term illnesses. For right now, your increased drinking could make you more susceptible to viruses and colds.
Does having a few extra drinks during the pandemic really matter right? In terms of your immune system, yes. While many things can boost your immunity (sleep, good nutrition, more exercise, etc.), alcohol impairs it. And this is not a great year to slow down your immune system! Here are a few ways that alcohol affects your immunity:
If you find yourself drinking more regularly, be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming. Here are ways that some people have reported drinking more during the pandemic:
If you find yourself in the moderate drinking category, you’re probably fine. But, talk with your provider, because you might have risk factors that do not mix well with any amount of alcohol. If you find yourself beyond moderate drinking, it’s time to rethink your drinking.
If it’s time to cut back (or stop), try replacing that drink with a different, health-promoting activity, such as:
If you are drinking more and find it difficult to cut back, it’s time to talk with your provider. They can provide suggestions and helpful information. They’ll also know what options are available to you.
Now is as good a time as any to start a new habit. Make it a habit that promotes your health and well-being. Reducing alcohol intake is one way you can boost your immunity and help fight off infections this fall. So, lift a glass of piña colada (without the rum) and toast to a healthier you!
For more information:
Facts about Moderate Drinking: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
Frequently Asked Questions about Alcohol: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm