More than five glasses of wine a week can ‘lower life expectancy’ – here’s how to cut down

As a new study finds that drinking a lot could be cutting years off our lives, we speak to Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert.

Press Association
Last updated: 13 April 2018 - 2.19pm

Experts have long warned that heavy drinking can put you at higher risk of serious illness, but a new study has thrown a scary new light on what we should actually deem as an unhealthy amount of alcohol to consume.

[Read more: 4 white Riojas to see you through summer]

Research from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation has found that drinking just six glasses of wine per week, or six pints of beer, could increase your risk of early death.

Despite UK government guidelines recommending that both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, researchers found that anything above 12.5 units is dangerous to health and should be avoided; and if you think that the average bottle of Prosecco can fill six large champagne flutes, you’ll soon start to realise that after work drinks, bottomless brunches and ‘just one’ at the weekend can easily add up.

Researchers of the study, published in journal the Lancet, warned that having 10 or more drinks per week could knock up to to two years off your life expectancy, stressing that the safe upper limit to drinking should be no more than five pints of 4% beer per week, or five 175ml glasses of 13 per cent wine. The study also found that “on balance” there are no health benefits from drinking.

Pretty sobering stuff.

If these recent findings have you itching to try a ‘dry’ period, you’re keen to avoid the apocalyptic hangovers that just get worse with age or you just want to have more sober time on your hands this year, plenty of us could benefit from making a mid-year resolution to cut back on the booze.

We asked leading Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well, to share her best tips, tricks and ideas to help cut down on drinking.

She says: “There is no denying that alcohol should be limited as part of a healthy diet. All too often I see alcohol associated with weight gain and poor mental clarity. Any positive claims from alcohol stem largely from studies using quality red wine and often on males over the age of 50.

“The idea of counting alcohol units in the UK was first introduced in 1987. Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit contains 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is roughly the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour. The number of units in a drink varies enormously, depending on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength.

“Choose your alcohol wisely and remember that alcohol can be addictive and excessive consumption can cause a whole host of health issues.

“Drinking alcohol can sometimes be difficult in social situations as some may feel pressure to keep up with others in regards to how many drinks they’re having.  However, it is important to remind yourself that you do not need to compare yourself to others,” she says.

“Of course everyone ‘let’s loose’ sometimes and has one drink too may but ultimately, alcohol may not be very beneficial to your overall wellbeing, and there is nothing wrong with telling your friends and family that you would prefer not to drink too much for your health. Often just saying, ‘No, thank you’ can do the trick. You do not need to feel judged for putting your health first”

Rhiannon’s tips to help cut down on your weekly intake:

1. Keep sipping water, alternating drinks of alcohol and water.

2. Try cutting down with a friend or partner as you’ll be more likely to stick to it and break bad habits.

3. Try not to drink alcohol with your meal.

4. If you love your glass of wine, make it go further by adding some soda water to make a spritzer.

5. Try opting for a sparkling water with some fresh fruit or fruit juice in it to add some flavour.