So you’ve heeded the Signs You Should Stop Drinking Coffee Immediately and put down that coffee mug. But what are the warning signs that it’s time to stop drinking beer?
Well, first things first: consuming alcohol regularly and in excess can cause serious health issues. Here are the ugly side effects of drinking alcohol every day according to the Mayo Clinic). And while beer may seem more “sessionable” (i.e., easy on the taste buds to consume in excess in one sitting), than, say, martinis, don’t be deceived. While occasional drinking is okay, experts warn that consuming alcohol daily or frequently in excess can wreak havoc on your health.
“Like all alcoholic beverages, beer can be bad for your health if you drink too much of it. And this can be easy to do, especially with ‘session’ beers. These beers are lower in alcohol and less filling, making it easy to lose track of how much you consume,” says Kim Yawitz, RD, a registered dietitian and gym owner in St. Louis, Missouri. “In the short term, drinking too much beer can lead to digestive issues, ‘hangxiety’ (hangover anxiety), poor sleep, headaches, and behavioral problems. Consistently drinking too much increases your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, liver damage, heart disease, depression, certain types of cancer, financial troubles, and relationship issues.” Yeah, we’ll take none of the above, please and thank you.
Ahead, common signs and symptoms that reveal you should stop swilling on that brew ASAP.
If you drink beer regularly and have high blood pressure, cutting back or nixing beer completely can help. “Drinking too much alcohol often can lead to high blood pressure—as well as more complicated heart health issues, including heart disease and stroke,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian in Stamford, Connecticut, and owner of Plant Based with Amy. “In fact, 7 out of every 100 global deaths that occur from hypertensive heart disease can be attributed to alcohol use, according to the World Health Organization.”
If you notice this is happening to you, it’s time to put the bottle down and seek help. “The more beer you drink, the more immune you become to its physical and behavioral effects. This adaptation—called functional tolerance—might seem like a good thing if you really enjoy beer, but it’s actually a major red flag that you should cut back,” says Yawitz. “Even if you’re not trying to get buzzed, a functional tolerance can make you feel like it’s safe to drink more beer, and this can increase the likelihood of health issues over time.”
“While alcohol helps you fall asleep due to its sedative properties, it actually prevents you from getting deep sleep. The inhibition of vasopressin (the hormone which prevents water loss) leads to frequent urination which doesn’t help your sleep quality either!” says registered dietitian Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD. “Don’t drink beer too close to bedtime in order to get optimal sleep.” What’s more, drinking too much beer may cause you to suffer from brain fog on top of the sleep deprivation making you pretty miserable around the clock. “Alcohol impairs your ability to get deep sleep and can lead to worsening brain fog throughout the day,” she says.
Daytime exhaustion may be a sign to reduce or eliminate beer from your diet, too. “Throwing back a couple of cold ones might help you relax at night, but it won’t do you any favors the next day. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycles and make you more likely to feel sleepy during the daytime,” says Yawitz. “In one 2018 study, sleep quality decreased by 9% among adults who had just one or two drinks, and by more than 39% among those who had more than two drinks. Cutting back on beer—especially late in the evening—can help you feel more energetic and focused at work.”
Get your annual physical only to learn that your liver enzymes are elevated? While many things can cause this from medications to infections, it may be a symptom of drinking too much beer. “If your blood test comes back with high liver enzymes like AST or ALT that means your liver needs a break,” says Ivanir, who suggests swapping beers for sparkling soda and lemon if you like a festive drink to unwind with nightly.
Or stressed. Or…both? If you suffer from stress or anxiety, evaluate your beer intake. “Beer can increase cortisol levels leading to increased feelings of stress and anxiety,” says Ivanir. Time to load up on these foods to fight anxiety, do some physical activity to get those endorphins flowing, and book that therapist appointment.
If you notice an uptick in how frequently you get sick, your beer habit may be to blame. “When you drink too much too often, this can lead to a weakened immune system—which heightens your chances of getting sick. Alcohol overuse can even lead to an increased risk of acquiring HIV, per the World Health Organization,” says Gorin. “This is because of compromised immunity, as well as increased risky sexual behavior that often comes with alcohol abuse.”
Yep, it’s no fun. And that beer o’clock ritual may be the culprit. Ivanir notes that if you suffer from bloating, you might want to consider your beer drinking. “The carbonation in beer can exacerbate bloating in certain individuals, so you’re better off with a flat option like wine.” Looking to de-puff? Check out these 15 best (and instant!) anti-bloating foods.
And if your bloated belly seems to be more, ahem, long-term, pay attention to how much beer you’re drinking. “You might benefit from cutting back on your beer intake if you gain weight, or if you notice an increase in belly fat (which, FYI, can happen even if you’re at a healthy weight!,” says Yawitz. “Most beers contain between 60 and 300 calories per 12-ounce serving, and the calories add up quickly even if you only drink in moderation. There’s also some evidence that your body burns less fat for several hours after drinking alcohol, so it makes sense to cut back if you’re trying to lose weight and not seeing the results you want.”
Feel awful every time you drink beer? It may be the gluten. “Most beer is made from the grain wheat, barley, or rye, all of which contain gluten, and can trigger your symptoms,” says Ivanir. “While there are gluten-free options on the market, you might be better off switching to a truly gluten-free option like wine.”