There is a common notion that drinking moderate levels of alcohol can produce positive effects on one’s health. This notion may be true for some individuals, and untrue for others. Research has indicated that drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, can greatly impact one’s triglyceride levels. Many alcoholic beverages are highly caloric. When an individual has been drinking his or her impaired state of mind can be influential on his or her food choices (i.e. eat fatty, unhealthy foods), which can in turn, exponentially increase his or her caloric intake, significantly affecting his or her triglyceride levels. For individuals that have higher than normal levels of triglycerides, the potential health benefits from consuming moderate amounts of alcohol will likely be outweighed by the negatives.
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in one’s blood. Triglycerides are essential in that they store unused calories and provide one’s body with energy. When an individual has elevated levels of triglycerides, however, it can be indicative of other potential conditions. High triglycerides can contribute to the hardening of arteries and/ or thickening of artery walls. Hence having elevated triglyceride levels can increase one’s risk of developing heart disease (i.e. heart attack, stroke…etc.). Very high triglyceride levels can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
Testing Triglyceride Levels
The way an individual specifically tests his or her triglyceride levels is through a simple blood test. The Mayo Clinic provides the following ranges as they relate to understanding where one’s triglyceride levels fall:
- Normal levels: less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high levels: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
- High levels: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
- Very high levels: 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
Typically a routine cholesterol test (lipid panel or lipid profile) will include testing one’s triglyceride levels. Hence, anytime an individual gets a cholesterol test he or she will also have a clear understanding of where his or her triglyceride levels fall.
Risks Of Drinking Too Much Alcohol
There are many of risks to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. In addition to its effect on one’s triglyceride levels, it can lead to and/ or exacerbate any combination of the following health conditions:
- Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
- Raised blood pressure
- Contribute to obesity
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Congestive heart failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
Every individual is different and will have varied reactions to the consumption of alcohol. The tolerance levels will vary from person to person, as will the physiological effects one may endure from drinking alcohol.
What Is Too Much Alcohol
The term “too much” is subjective, which can cause some confusion surrounding an acceptable amount of alcohol to consume. The exact amount of alcohol consumption will be different for different people. For example, certain factors will contribute to one’s ability to and time it may take to successfully metabolize alcohol, including: one’s body size, age, and liver size. According to the American Heart Association, moderate drinking is defined as one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One standard alcoholic drink constitutes one of the following:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
- 12 ounces of regular beer
If you have elevated triglyceride levels it is usually best to avoid drinking alcohol, or at the very minimum drastically reduce your alcohol consumption. In addition to the adverse physical effects that can occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, there are a myriad of additional adverse consequences that can ensue.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.