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Experts share why people should monitor their alcohol intake this New Year's Eve | Wear The Gown

Excessive drinking can affect our immunity, leading to diseases like COVID, experts say.

SAN ANTONIO — New Year's Eve is around the corner, and it's one of the biggest days of the year for drinking alcohol. The more you indulge, the more negative impacts those drinks may have on your life, including your immune system.

We all know drinking and driving ticks up on New Year's Eve, so ride service apps should be ready to go in your phone before you even head out the door to any holiday gathering. 

Dr. Robert Lahita, Professor of Medicine at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, Clinical Professor at Rutgers Medical School, and the Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Diseases at St. Joseph Health told us, "The use of copious amounts of alcohol really dampens out your immune response, and that's against bacteria, mainly, but also viruses." 

One drink of alcohol is considered one 12 ounce beer, five ounces of wine, or one and 1/2 ounces of hard liquor. 

Men are considered heavy drinkers if they have at least two drinks of alcohol a day, and women one drink a day. When men drink as many as 15 drinks a day, and women eight drinks, that is when you run the risk of significantly affecting your immune system. And in this age of COVID, that's especially risky. 

Dr. Lahita added, "I see people who come in and tell me they drink a quart of gin a day, which is hard to believe, but they do. And that's big stuff."  

Then there's your mental health. If you're an alcoholic, your brain can become atrophic. Dr. Lahita told us, "It becomes less able to do finite calculations and other things that we expect normal people to do in balancing your checkbook, reading the newspaper; memory is affected."  

So how do you keep your wits about you and enjoy your New Year's Eve? 

Number one is to have that driver. Number two, Dr. Lahita says, "If you're going to have hard liquor, drink one or two drinks and then go to Diet Coke or regular coke, Coca-Cola or coffee. I don't want to be a party pooper, but this kind of thing will avoid a great hangover in the morning."  

For some ideas on alcohol-free drinks or mocktails from Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, also known as "The VibrantDoc," click here.

And check out these tips from Dr. Stephenson on how to reduce holiday stress:

  • Trim your list: Trim the tree, yes, but also trim that to-do list. Maybe this is a year to scale back? Check your perfectionism and get real. What would happen if you didn’t bake cookies this year, or if you didn’t break your budget just for a momentary wow effect?
  • Keep an organized to-do list: Make a gift list and check off items and people once they are covered. And keep it handy so you can remember later who received what. Make menus, shopping lists and other holiday to-do's. Organize them by date so you know when to do what.
  • Be kind to your body: It may be tempting to eat all the sugar, watch all the holiday movies, drink all the alcohol and collapse on the couch when it all gets to be too much. But, you know perfectly well that’s not good for you. Stressful times are the most important times to take care of yourself, so make room in your holiday schedule for nutritious meals, regular exercise and meaningful connection with the people you love. This will maximize your chances of feeling good and handling stress better.
  • Tune in: Your body is talking to you all the time. Spend a little quiet time, by yourself, every day, to check in with your body. Sit, close your eyes, take some deep breaths and scan your body for tension.
  • Breathe: Deep breathing can reverse the stress response within seconds. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, take five minutes to sit and breathe deeply. 

For more Wear The Gown stories, click here.

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