How Much Is Too Much?
Posted on 7/2/2014 by Chops
When it comes to overindulgence, a lot of emphasis in the beer world is given to alcohol addiction and calorie intake. Beer drinkers rarely have the long-term health discussion. Until we live in a society where healthy livers are available via vending machines, we have to be conscious of the fact that livers can only take so much. Most of us are unaware that the liver has a cumulative intake limit for alcohol, at which cirrhosis is unavoidable. This is why the long-touted concept of "moderation" is something to be taken very seriously.

We have all seen countless news articles highlighting the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and everyone seems to have their own opinion on what constitutes "too much". Unfortunately, America's ratings-hungry news machine has long since jumped the sensationalist shark and people have grown to distrust it. It's very easy to dismiss modern "news" as opinionated nonsense that will change more often than your underwear.

Remember the egg debate? Eggs are good! Eggs are bad! Eggs are both good and bad! Eggs are the single greatest thing your can put in your body! Eggs can kill you dead faster than a brain aneurysm! (facepalm)

That's why when it comes to legitimate information that you can actually apply to your life, it's always better to rely on reputable organizations. So when I recently came across the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) definition of what constitutes heavy drinking, I took notice. (link below)

It basically comes down to this: "For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week."

A lot of craft beer drinkers just nodded their heads and thought, "hell yeah, I'm a light drinker". Not so fast, sunshine. A "drink" in the CDC world is defined as one 12-ounce bottle of 5% ABV beer. To put it another way, that's no more than 15 Budweisers in a week. Feeling a bit deflated now? My apologies. Alas, we have all sat down with full pints (16 ounces) of delicious 12% Imperial Stouts. All it takes is two pints of this heavenly nectar to kill half of your week's healthy intake. Now think of a typical drinking week and do the math. Some of you may have just had an "oh shit" moment.

I know I was surprised when I first came across the CDC studies and guidelines. I count myself lucky because college taught me that hangovers are none too enjoyable and my brain is now hardwired to terminate at tipsy. I honestly cannot remember the last time I have been drunk. Drinking for me is an exercise in quiet relaxation. My typical week of drinking would be two or three evenings, during which I will have a single big beer (9-12%) or two standard beers (5-8%). I was relieved to see that my definition of moderation is in line with the CDC.

But don't worry, this post isn't meant to shame you off of something you greatly enjoy. Just think of it as a BrewChief public service announcement. You now have some information on what the CDC defines as heavy drinking. Do with it what you will, I can only hope that it's an eye-opener for those who need it. Craft beer is a thoroughly enjoyable hobby that I plan to partake of well into my golden years. Just be sure to pamper than liver because he works hard to keep you happy.

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