Consumer Reports: Potential downsides of overindulging in alcohol

It can be easy to over-indulge in alcohol as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are anxious times, to be sure. You might be dealing with an economic hardship, teaching your kids at home, or just plain boredom from being inside. That can lead even some light to moderate drinkers to overindulge. Consumer Reports reveals why you should keep your alcohol consumption in balance.

Sales of alcohol for home consumption was 22-percent higher this March compared to last year. Wine and beer delivery and carry-out cocktails are now permitted in most areas, all things that can lead even light to moderate drinkers to overindulge, which Consumer Reports says can come with potential downsides

"Heavy drinking is obviously not healthy and can damage the liver and heart and cause other health problems," said Consumer Reports Health & Food Editor Trisha Calvo. "But even moderate drinking may be harmful over time, increasing the risk for some cancers and affecting the good gut bacteria and their ability to protect against illness."

And even small amounts of alcohol can interact with some medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

For most people, a glass of wine or beer, with dinner or on a zoom call with friends, is generally fine. But it's important not to overdo it, so try to stick to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man. And be sure you know what actually counts as one drink.

It's probably less than you think: 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine, and 1.5 ounces (a shot) for spirits. And because wine glasses come in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, don't eyeball it-use a measuring cup.

And maybe skip that extra glass of wine before bed, even though as many as 20-percent of Americans have said they use alcohol to fall asleep.

"Alcohol may help you nod off, but it interferes with brain changes that occur in the later stages of sleep. So you may not sleep as well or even wake up in the middle of the night," Calvo said.

And remember to drink water! Good hydration helps your cells function and your body eliminate waste, which enables your immune system to work better. And it prevents headaches and muscle fatigue, aids digestion, and even boosts your mood.

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