The energy from a double espresso will last you through those early morning meetings. Get a soda from the office vending machine to prevent the mid-afternoon energy slump. Unwind with a beverage or a refreshing beer after a long and exhausting day at work. Some of these seemingly harmless drinks might add up. Some drinking habits, according to the Mayo Clinic, can shorten your life or, at the very least, affect your general health.
That's not to say you can't indulge in a martini or a latte once in a while. Due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, red wine and coffee have been demonstrated in studies to help you live longer. As with everything, moderation is vital. Pre-existing health concerns, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, as well as prescription medications that may interfere with certain beverages, must all be considered.
Here are a few of the bad drinking behaviours you should strive to avoid, as well as links to more information.
1. Constantly consuming more than four cups of coffee every day.
If you're under the age of 55, drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can increase your risk of dying from a number of conditions, according to a 2013 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. People who drank more than 28 cups per week had a greater risk of dying from any cause, according to researchers.
"It indicates that drinking one to three cups of coffee every day is safe," said one of the study's co-authors, Xuemei Sui, who defines a cup of coffee as 6 to 8 ounces.
According to the researchers, this link may be higher among younger men and women since they are more prone to engage in other hazardous practices such as poor diet and excessive alcohol usage.
2. Consistently consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.
Whether you prefer sweetened fruit juice or flavoured coffee, the Mayo Clinic warns that drinking sugary drinks on a daily basis has been linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
In fact, a large study published in the journal Circulation found that those who eat more sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher risk of dying prematurely—particularly from heart disease—than those who consume fewer. The study also identified a small link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and cancer death, particularly among breast cancer survivors.
3. Drinking a lot of milk from cows.
A little milk, yogurt, or cheese every now and then isn't a bad thing. Dairy is a wonderful source of protein and bone-strengthening calcium if you aren't allergic to it. However, you might want to reconsider how much milk you're drinking because, according to a Mayo Clinic study released in 2019, excessive dairy consumption has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
"Our assessment indicated a cause for concern with excessive consumption of dairy products," says study lead author John Shin, PhD, a Mayo Clinic oncologist. " The findings contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting plant-based diets may be beneficial to one's health."
Although the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that cow's milk and other dairy products can be part of a healthy diet, it recommends that low-fat or skimmed variants be preferred over full-fat varieties since full-fat products include saturated fat, which raises cholesterol. Milk and other dairy products should also be consumed in moderation, with about two servings per day.
4. Drinking an energizing beverage.
Energy drinks, no matter how much you have, are not a good choice, and consuming them on a regular basis is one of the drinking habits that shortens your life. Drinking just one 16-ounce energy drink, according to Mayo Clinic studies, can significantly boost blood pressure and stress hormone responses. In previous investigations, energy drinks were also found to be dangerous when coupled with alcohol.
"In previous research, we found that energy drink intake elevated blood pressure in healthy young adults," says co-author Dr. Anna Svatikova. "We now show that as blood pressure rises, norepinephrine, a stress hormone component, rises as well, potentially predisposing healthy people to a higher risk of cardiac events."
Instead of grabbing one of those sugar-laden energy drinks, Mayo advocates getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and increasing physical activity to naturally boost your energy levels. Another option is unsweetened green or black tea; both deliver a caffeine boost without the extra sugar, and studies suggest that they may even lower blood pressure.
5. Consumption of "abundant" alcoholic beverages.
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Assume you consume alcohol on a daily basis or consume multiple drinks in a single session. In that scenario, the Mayo Clinic strongly urges you to analyze your habits in order to protect your health, as excessive alcohol consumption is one of the drinking habits that can shorten your life.
High-risk drinking is defined as more than three drinks in one day for men and more than seven drinks in a week for women, according to the Mayo Clinic. For men over 65, it's just one drink per day; for guys under 65, it's more than four drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week.
"Occasional beer or wine with dinner, or a drink in the evening, is not a health risk for most people," says Mayo Clinic doctor Terry Schneekloth, MD, in a Q&A. "When drinking becomes a daily habit, however, it could mean you're increasing your intake and jeopardizing your health. Alcohol has the potential to destroy your body's organs and cause a number of health issues. Because women's bodies contain less water than men's, lower doses of alcohol cause harm. That's why men and women have different drinking limits."
Excessive drinking may increase your risk of serious health problems such as pancreatitis, numerous malignancies, heart muscle damage, stroke, liver disease, and sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease. It can also cause your blood pressure to skyrocket, putting you in danger.
"Having more than three beers in one sitting boosts your blood pressure briefly," says Sheldon G. Sheps, MD, emeritus professor of medicine and former chair of the Mayo Clinic's Division of Nephrology and Hypertension. "Keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and might result in unwanted weight gain, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure."
In light of all of this, the Mayo Clinic advises that you drink in moderation. Women should drink no more than one drink per day, while males should drink no more than two drinks per day—equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
6. Consumption of two or more diet drinks each day.
Do you think diet soda is healthy? We're sorry to tell you this, but just because your beverage is sugar- and calorie-free doesn't mean it's healthier. While artificial sweeteners may not raise blood sugar levels in the same way that traditional sweeteners do, they do have other side effects, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to one study, women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day had a higher risk of stroke than women who consumed them less frequently or not at all.
"While more research is needed, these findings suggest that artificially sweetened beverages should be used in moderation," the Mayo Clinic advised.
Although the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that artificial sweeteners in moderation may be beneficial, it nonetheless advocates avoiding over-processed foods and beverages with little nutritional value, such as diet soda, in favour of whole foods and drinks that are naturally sweetened.
7. Consumption of soda on a daily basis.
Even regular soda drinking can impair your health, which may come as no surprise. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking one standard soda a day equals 32 pounds of sugar in a year, which is alarming given that consuming a lot of added sugar is linked to increased risks of obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, and inflammation in the body.
While sugar in any form should be avoided, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting it from natural sources like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and fruit rather than fructose, dextrose, cane juice, and high fructose corn syrup, which are found in processed drinks and foods. Furthermore, according to the Mayo Clinic, sports drinks and fruit juice can have just as much added sugar, so study the nutrition label before drinking them.
8. If you already have high blood pressure, drink a lot of caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine and hypertension are still contentious issues. Caffeine, on the other hand, can cause a brief but significant elevation in blood pressure, as well as long-term increases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Even if your blood pressure is normal, this effect occurs, so it's important to know if you're already monitoring it.
This effect could be triggered by caffeine, which causes your body to release more adrenaline, according to Mayo Clinic (a stress hormone that elevates your blood pressure). Caffeine, on the other hand, may interfere with a hormone that keeps your arteries broad.
It's worth noting, though, that if you use caffeine infrequently, the effect may be more pronounced.
"Some persons who drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis have a higher average blood pressure than those who don't," according to Mayo Clinic. "Caffeine tolerance develops in those who use caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. Caffeine has no long-term effect on their blood pressure as a result."
If you have high blood pressure, Mayo Clinic suggests limiting your caffeine intake to 22 mg per day (about two 8-ounce cups of coffee) and seeing your doctor about whether you should eliminate caffeine entirely.