Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.
If you enjoy a cold beer at a BBQ, cocktail nights with friends, wine tasting events, or a drink with dinner, you’re not alone: According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 85 percent of adults in the United States drink alcohol at some point in their lives.
Just as the reasons people drink are highly varied, so too are the effects it has on our health. The negatives are often promoted, and for good reason.
But on the flip side, consuming alcohol in moderation has been shown to have an array of positive benefits, and we’re not just talking about feeling more confident and relaxed in social situations. Plus, it’s not only for drinking!
So, grab a glass as we pop the cork on 29 facts about alcohol.
These shot-sized stats are perfect for downing in one gulp (just be sure not to take them on board too fast).
1. 4 or more drinks in 2 hours = too much
This is the consumption amount that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classes as binge drinking for people with vaginas. If you have a penis, the amount is five-plus drinks in the same period.
2. 1 in 6 adults binge drink
And not just on the odd occasion, either. This happens an average of four times per month.
3. 1 is the magic number
It takes the human body 1 hour to process one standard-sized drink — check out what this actually equates to.
4. Booze stays in your bloodstream for up to 12 hours
Whenever you start your clock, you probably shouldn’t drive to work if you had a couple of glasses of wine straight before bed.
5. It hangs around in other areas much longer
Traces of booze can remain in your pee and saliva for up to 24 hours, and in your hair(!) for 3 months.
6. People with vaginas can have 1 drink per day
According to government guidelines, having one drink per day won’t lead to negative health impacts for vagina owners. People with penises can have two drinks per day without negative health impacts. “One drink” varies by alcohol type, so check out this guide.
7. One bottle of wine = 700 calories
That’s more than 1/3 of a vagina owner’s recommended daily allowance (and more than 1/4 of a penis owner’s).
8. Up to 36 percent of Asians experience alcohol flush syndrome (AFS)
As one Greatist writer shared, this means that your body is less able to metabolize alcohol — leading to effects such as nausea, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Yikes.
What if we told you that sipping on vintage vino offers more than just good taste? While this isn’t the green light to throw back a bottle a night, alcohol (in moderation) can benefit well-being in a variety of ways.
9. Wine hearts us as much as we heart wine
Alcohol can positively affect our tickers, thanks to its phenol content — which has been shown to help protect against heart disease and boost levels of “good” cholesterol, among other factors.
10. Small and steady wins the race
Having a more modest drink (or 1/2 that) on a semi-regular basis can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke, especially later on in life.
11. A + B ÷ ᥰ = a bottle of beer
Next time you’re puzzling over the newspaper crossword or some furniture assembly instructions, crack open a cold one. In one small study, those with a blood alcohol content of 0.075 percent were better — and faster — at solving problems compared to sober peers.
12. Alcohol can be one of nature’s smoothest operators
Forget sucking on a lozenge next time you’ve got a sore throat: A lil’ gargle of whiskey (mixed with a couple of other ingredients) could be just the ticket for easing that sting.
13. Red or white can lead to less cold blues
Two separate studies found that moderate wine drinkers were at lower risk of developing a cold.
14. Our bodies like them apples (cider)
Due to its apple content, this fermented beverage comprises anthocyanins — which are key in fighting inflammation in your body. Cider has more well-being boosters too.
While the hangover headaches, fuzzy tongues and I-really-hope-I-didn’t-message-my-ex moments of panic eventually subside, taking on too much alcohol can create an array of longer-term negative effects.
15. The binge could be bad (unless we’re talkin’ Netflix)
There are plenty of celebratory and not-so-celebratory reasons someone might want to do a drinking marathon. But with binge drinking effects ranging from anxiety issues to increased risk of breast cancer, considering alternatives may be worth your while.
16. Too much liquor is a heart-kicker
Drinking several times per week can increase your risk of developing atrial fibrillation — a condition linked to both heart attack and stroke. Alcohol-free rosé, anyone?
17. Cutting back leads to sweeter dreams
While alcohol might help you pass out more easily, drinking can actually decrease sleep quality by up to 40 percent. So, swap that evening G&T for a mug of hot cocoa.
18. Booze isn’t a big fan of your brain cells
If cracking open a beer after work is your way of relaxing, think about seeking an alternative. Drinking one or two every night can contribute to memory loss and brain shrinkage.
19. Going bottoms up can result in a runny bottom
Yup, it’s exactly as it sounds. A night of cocktails will make you pee more and likely lead to diarrhea.
From the bottle to the pan — some of the most popular spirits can work the taste magic when combined with the right ingredients.
20. You can use beer for healthy cooking
Forget wasting a good ale on beer pong and incorporate it into tasty dishes instead. These 26 recipes — including everything from Belgian waffles to Brazilian marinated chicken — take this traditional brew to a whole new level.
21. Wine elevates your dine in more ways than one
You might enjoy a glass of red alongside a bowl of pasta or a tender rack of lamb, but what about adding a dash into your meal? From decadent brunches to sumptuous desserts, we’ve plenty of recipe ideas to make a splash.
22. Yes, you can have rum for breakfast
Liven up your pancakes with booze-soaked or glazed fruit. It’s still healthy(ish). We’re totally on board with this idea of pancakes topped with caramelized pineapple slices.
23. Alcohol can actually *cool things off*
If that extra pinch of spice to your curry was a big mistake, a swig of alcohol can prove just as effective at calming things down as a glass of milk. Find out which splash is the best extinguisher.
Want to cut back on your alcohol consumption but feeling a bit uncertain about it all? Here are some tips to get you started on the road to success, along with insights of what to expect.
24. “Drying off” takes planning
The month-long no-booze challenge known as “Dry January” can be a great launchpad for reducing your intake in the long term. We’ve got all you need to know and how to get involved safely (because sometimes going cold turkey isn’t the best plan of action).
25. Side effects can come from all sides
Alcohol is a drug, so your body will likely experience some kind of withdrawal symptoms, depending on your usual intake. Withdrawal symptoms can include twitching, anxiety, cold sweats and trouble sleeping — so cut back slowly to help reduce their impact.
26. The sugar cravings will abound
When your brain no longer receives a reward in the form of a cool glass of beer, it seeks gratification elsewhere — often via sweet treats. So, don’t be surprised if your pantry starts to look like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
27. It helps to think happy thoughts
As this article reveals, training your thoughts on the good things that will come from resisting a first (or second) drink is one approach to help thwart temptation.
28. Your social life will change
Social nights often highlight drinking, so there’s bound to be some shifts. But as writer Rachel found, giving up booze helped transform her friendships in positive ways.
29. Being teetotal could suit you to a tee
Aside from no more hangovers, going alcohol-free can provide an array of lifestyle benefits. And, as one Greatist writer discovered, many are highly pleasant (and welcome) surprises.
Ding! That’s the bell for the last call, so we’re going to grab our coats and head off. Whether you want to continue enjoying a regular drink or two, cut back on your consumption, or ditch the booze altogether, there’s no judgment from us.
Just remember to stay safe and enjoy everything in moderation.
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, health, beauty, food, and fitness.