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How to hold your drink

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Alcohol is a regular part of the social lives of many people. Whether a person drinks regularly, or occasionally, the amount of alcohol they drink can be influenced by those around them.

Aside from rounds of drinks being ordered, the size of measures, generous refills and cocktails and alcopops may lead to a person drinking more than they planned. The alcohol itself impairs judgement about whether to stop drinking or 'have one for the road'.

No expert would recommend overindulging, even if it is a special occasion, but it is useful to be aware of tips on pacing alcohol intake to a healthier level at social events.

Many people are surprised how low the NHS alcohol recommendations are. The latest UK guidelines say men and women shouldn't drink more than 14 units a week spread over 3 days or more, with some alcohol free days.

A standard glass of wine is 2.1 units and a pint of beer is around 2 units.

Along with the decision to drink also comes the responsibility to find a designated driver - or a taxi - to stay safe. If drinking is in your plans, you may want to keep these tips in mind.

Drink more ... water, that is

For every alcoholic drink you have, your body can expel up to four times as much liquid. The diuretic effect of alcohol and the dehydration it causes contribute to the discomfort of a hangover.

Pace yourself and don't overindulge.

Staying hydrated can reduce the negative effects of alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you, so when you wake up with a headache and a generally sick feeling, dehydration is usually the cause.
Replacing lost fluids with water combats dehydration and keeps you from drinking more alcohol in the meantime.

Granted, this advice isn't Nobel Prize research, but keeping a bottle of water at your table or a glass of water next to your wine may make you feel like a genius in the morning.

Hit the rocks

Ordering drinks that are on the rocks brings the benefit of the drink being diluted as the ice melts.

Taking your time with a drink also pays off. Your body absorbs alcohol quicker than you metabolise it. The faster you drink, the more time the toxins in the alcohol spend in your body affecting your brain and other tissues - and the more pain you feel in the morning.

Metabolism depends on several factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in general, most people can metabolise roughly one unit of alcohol an hour. So diluting it with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease your odds of a hangover.

Skip the bubbles

Researchers at the University of Manchester found that fizzy mixers increase the rate of alcohol absorption in the blood. The theory is that the gas in the bubbles is what speeds up the process. Instead, mix your spirits with fruit juice or water.

If you are going to drink something bubbly, try alternating between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks.

Order a drink that looks the same as an alcoholic drink, such as lemonade in a champagne glass or cola without the rum. The reason: you still have a glass in your hand and it feels like you're having a "real" drink, but you're not doing the same harm.

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