It’s no secret that stress and anxiety are widespread right now with the COVID-19 outbreak. But for those who turn to cocktails and wine after 5 PM to wind down after a long week, you might want to second guess that beverage.
“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” said the World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe.
“Alcohol is consumed in excessive quantities in the European Region, and leaves too many victims,” the WHO said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with a substance that is harmful both in terms of their health and the effects of their behaviour on others, including violence.”
Europe isn’t the only one drinking in excessive quantities. Many Americans are also guilty of consuming too much alcohol, especially during stressful times like these. According to a recent survey by Morning Consult of 2,000 U.S. adults, over 16% of Americans are drinking more during the COVID-19 crisis.
While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a glass of wine every so often, it’s important to keep in mind that taking care of yourself during COVID-19 also includes reducing your alcohol intake. That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to drinking in the current pandemic.
Alcohol doesn’t protect against COVID-19
Misinformation and fear have created the dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol such as vodka and whiskey can kill the COVID-19 virus. This isn’t true. Drinking alcohol can actually compromise your body’s immune system, putting you at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 and falling victim to the virus’ more dangerous health effects.
What’s more, consuming alcohol that contains high-strength ethyl alcohol, especially when it’s been adulterated with methanol, can put you at risk of severe health consequences, including death. Stick to drinking water rather than alcohol to help keep your body hydrated and healthy.
Driving under the influence is still dangerous
According to CDC statistics, about 1.8% of California’s 26 million licensed drivers admit to driving after they’ve been drinking. While social distancing and stay-at-home orders across the country have made the roads less populated than usual, it’s important to remember that driving under the influence is still incredibly dangerous (and illegal).
About 6 million car accidents occur on U.S. roads every year, injuring about 3 million people on average. Reckless driving — including driving under the influence, driving while distracted, and driving over the speed limit or over 60 mph in a large vehicle like an RV — is one of the leading causes of car accidents. That said, keep others and yourself safe by staying at home.
Hydration is crucial
If you do decide to drink during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to space out your drinks and to drink water between each beverage. This is because hydration, especially at a time like this, is absolutely essential to your health. Your body is made up of 70% water, and when you drink dehydrating beverages like cocktails, beer, and wine, you’re keeping your body from performing its proper functions like fighting off a virus.
If you have COVID-19 or you’re recovering from the virus at home, you absolutely shouldn’t be drinking alcohol at all. Instead, you ought to be drinking between two to four ounces of water every 15 minutes. This is because your body is working intensely to fight off the virus, and when you have a fever you’ll be losing a lot of fluids.
It’s also recommended to eat about six times a day, or about once every two to three hours if you’re recovering from or currently battling COVID-19. Even if you’re not hungry, these additional calories are crucial for preventing muscle breakdown. Aim for protein-rich foods like eggs, chickpeas, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and lentils.
While many of us are dealing with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to monitor your drinking habits to keep your body happy and healthy. Remember to reduce the beverages you’re drinking, hydrate throughout the day, and to keep yourself and others safe.