We have all done it. You had a hard day and all you can think about is relaxing at home with a nice glass of wine. But as we get older, that glass of wine can have unanticipated consequences. This is especially so if you are a post-menopausal woman. Here are 5 things to think about before you reach for that glass of wine.
- As we get older, women’s bodies become less tolerant of alcohol. Women in general can’t handle alcohol as well as men. We have less alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol in the stomach. Also, as we age, our bodies tend to lose water volume which increases the effects of alcohol on our bodies.
- Alcohol causes weight gain. Menopausal women tend to have slower metabolisms. Add to that problem the fact that alcohol is calorie dense. The two create a perfect recipe for weight gain in women going through menopause.
- Alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of diseases and disorders like breast cancer, heart disease, bone mass loss. All illnesses that older post- menopausal women have an increased risk for without drinking.
- Sleep disruption- menopause can cause women to have disrupted sleep. Ever wake up at 3am and be unable to get back to sleep for an hour? While a nice glass of wine may initially relax you and make you sleepy. Alcohol can later act as a stimulant and increase your chances of waking up.
- Hot flashes- the jury is still out on this one. Studies have shown that post-menopausal women had hot flashes that were triggered by drinking wine. It could be because alcohol acts as a vasodilator, opening up the blood vessels for an increased flow of blood. However, other studies done in 2007 showed just the opposite. Perimenopausal women who drank had a lower risk of developing hot flashes than non-drinking women.
So is it time to give up that glass of wine? Maybe not. If you are going to drink, consider drinking in moderation. Current guidelines suggest 7 glasses of wine a week, or one glass a day may be okay. However, a small caveat is that a glass of wine is considered to be 5oz. Your wine glass may hold more than that so be aware. Consider using smaller glasses or reduce the amount of wine in your glass by a couple of ounces.
If you are going to have wine, consider red wines. Reds are antioxidant rich and help fight inflammation and blood clotting.
Lastly, investigate alternatives to wines like spritzers which have a lower alcohol content.