Why choose lower alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks?
Without realising it, the units of alcohol in your favourite drinks can quickly add up, taking you over the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines.
The guidelines advise:
- To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
- If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries.
- The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
- If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several Drink Free Days a week.
Choosing lower strength alternatives means (providing you drink the same number of drinks) you consume fewer units of alcohol and are more likely to stay within the guidelines.
The health benefits of switching to low alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks are clear. In the short term, you’re more likely to get a better night’s sleep; feel fresher in the morning and have a more productive day at work as a result. What’s more, some lighter products are lower in calories, so your waistline will thank you too.
Importantly, reducing the number of units you consume helps avoid the more serious long-term effects of drinking too much, including cancer, mental health problems, high blood pressure and heart disease.
When to choose lower alcohol drinks
Lower alcohol drinks can be a great way of cutting down on the amount you of drink at home or pacing yourself on a night out, helping to avoid the short term effects of drinking too much.
They can also form part of a sustainable approach to cutting down in the longer term. For example, if you regularly have a couple of glasses of wine after work, switching to a 5.5% wine instead of the usual 12-14% can more than halve the number of units you drink in an evening, making a huge difference over a week and reducing your risk of longer-term harm.
Simple strategies to cut down on alcohol
Lower alcohol, high quality taste
The increase in demand for lighter, healthier drinks means there’s no shortage of options when it comes to high quality, lower strength wine and beer.
You can find ‘light’ wine, especially white, rosé and sparkling in all of the bigger supermarkets as well as lots of pubs and bars. There are also lots of lighter style reds on the market and keep an eye out for in-store promotions and new light ranges.
There’s also a growing range of lower alcohol beers on offer, with several citrus flavoured options.