Updated: Sep 18, 2019
I enjoy a glass of wine just as much as the next person. Unfortunately though, our bodies don't age like fine wine. If you wish to maintain a youthful, healthy glow long into the future, you may want to rethink how often you're frequenting the nearby happy hour.
Read on to see how too much alcohol speeds up the aging process.
6 Ways Alcohol Causes Faster Aging
Ever wonder why you need a bathroom break so often when you drink? Alcohol is a diuretic, a substance that increases urination. Dehydration can cause your skin to become wrinkled and shriveled like a raisin, giving you an appearance much older than your true age. You need to drink extra water when consuming alcohol to keep your skin cells plump and hydrated.
Collagen is the secret fountain of youth. It maintains your skin's fullness and elasticity. Alcohol speeds up collagen loss by depleting crucial nutrients, like vitamin A. Repairing collagen is not as simple as consuming collagen supplements, so it's important to protect the natural tone you have.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports hard, long-term drinking can shrink your brain volume. Brain volume plays a major role in protection from dementia and processing speed. Too many drinks too often can lead to memory loss and word recall issues.
Fat build up
It's no secret that drinking often leads to weight gain. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, plus you have to consider any juice or soda it's mixed with. These calories can add up quickly.
The most dangerous place you can accumulate fat from drinking is on your liver, known as fatty liver. This puts extra stress on the liver and impairs its ability to handle everyday functioning. Liver function is one of the most important determinants of how we age.
A glass of wine before bed may help you fall asleep faster, but it actually worsens your sleep quality. Alcohol reduces REM sleep, the most mentally restorative stage of sleep. Your body needs enough REM sleep for you to feel rested and alert the following day. Without it, you fall into sleep debt and your brain ages faster.
Alcohol can also cause pauses in breathing throughout the night, known as sleep apnea. This reduces the amount of oxygen the brain gets and can put you at risk for stroke.
Worsens current health conditions
Alcohol is one of the main causes of acid reflux and gastritis, or irritation of the stomach lining. Even as little as one drink per day can worsen these conditions.
Too much alcohol worsens blood pressure and can contribute to hypertension. It can also negatively impact triglyceride levels, putting you at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes.
If you currently have diabetes, alcohol can cause complications with your blood sugar.
How much is too much?
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines consider one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men moderate drinking. Any more than this is considered too much alcohol.
Remember, one drink is either 5 fluid ounces of wine, 12 fluid ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor.
"Saving up" your drinks for the weekend does not count as moderation and is not recommended. Too much alcohol in a short period of time is considered binge-drinking and is very hard on your body.
Stick to a beer after work or a glass of wine with dinner. Leave enough time before bed so it doesn't impact your sleep quality.
Aging doesn't have to be a negative experience! Take care of your body and learn to love moderation. Balance can help you feel and look more youthful for years to come!