Consumer Reports

Don't Self-Soothe With Booze This Pandemic

Consumer Reports found alcohol sales have jumped, but drinking too much can cause many problems

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The coronavirus pandemic is an anxious time, to be sure. You might be dealing with economic hardship, with teaching your kids from home, or with plainly the boredom from being inside.

The stress of it all can lead some light to moderate drinkers to overindulge.

Online sales of alcohol were 307% higher at the start of July compared to last year, according to data from Nielsen. With wine and beer delivery and carryout cocktails now permitted in many areas, Consumer Reports says this can come with potential downsides.

Heavy drinking is not healthy, can damage the liver and heart, and can cause other health problems. But even moderate drinking may be harmful over time, increasing the risk for some cancers and affecting the good gut bacteria and their ability to protect against illness.

Even small amounts of alcohol can interact with some medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

For most people, a glass of wine or beer with dinner, or on a Zoom call with friends, is generally fine. But it's important not to overdo it, so try to stick to no more than one or two drinks a day.

Be sure you know what actually counts as one drink. It's probably less than you think: 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine, or 1.5 ounces for a shot of spirits. And because wine glasses come in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, don't eyeball it—use a measuring cup.

Also, consider skipping that extra glass of wine before bed, even though as many as 20% of Americans have said they use alcohol to fall asleep.

Alcohol may help you nod off, but it interferes with brain changes that occur in the later stages of sleep. So you might not sleep as well, or you may even wake up in the middle of the night.

Finally, remember to drink water. Good hydration helps your cells function and your body eliminate waste, which enables your immune system to work better. It also prevents headaches and muscle fatigue, aids digestion, and even boosts your mood.

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