9 alcohol myths you should always ignore

We've all heard a myth or two about drinking alcohol in our time. It might be about how to get drunk more quickly, how to avoid a hangover, or how to have a night out on the booze and limit your calorie intake. Some of these ideas may be based on logical theories, but in reality you'd probably be better if you didn't take them completely at face value.

Myth 1: Mix alcohol with an energy drink to speed up the time it takes to get drunk

What actually happens is the caffeine counteracts the sleepy feeling many of us can get from drinking alcohol, which is normally the key to stop drinking and then go to bed. The result of this is people feel they have more energy so they can drink more alcohol, which can see them getting too drunk or having an awful hangover the following day. The only slight exception is based on sugar- free mixers, which can increase intoxication.

Myth 2: Drinking spirits before beer makes somebody less likely to be ill than starting with beer and moving on to more potent drinks

It is the amount that you drink that is most important. Drinking too much of any alcoholic drink can make you sick, so whether your selection is beer, wines or spirits, your pacing is the most important aspect.

Myth 3: Older wine is better than a younger vintage

In reality, it depends on the type of wine in question. Some are meant to be drunk within a year, while others are better after they have been stored for a few years, so keep an eye on the expiration date on the bottle.

Myth 4: Darker alcoholic drinks tend to be healthier than lighter equivalents

This is based on idea that darker alcoholic drinks have more antioxidants, which gives them a higher nutritional value. They also contain more congeners though, which are toxic chemicals created while the drink is fermented. These can make hangovers feel much worse the next day.

Myth 5: Having a beer is a better way than water to recover after exercise

This idea is based on three factors; that vitamins are contained within beer, the carbonated liquid helps to quench thirst more effectively than still drinks, and finally, the carbohydrates will help with lost energy. However, any benefit is only slight and is more than counteracted by alcohol's effect on bodily organs, especially the liver and pancreas. It means oxygen leaves the bloodstream more quickly, which in turn slows the movement of digestive enzymes and nutrients around the body, and as a result, delays overall recovery and slows muscle growth.

Myth 6: Vomiting while drunk helps to sober people up and lessen the hangover the next day Alcohol passes into the bloodstream almost as soon as you drink it so vomiting only gets rid of a little of it. If you're at the point you need to be sick, your body probably has too much alcohol in it to avoid a hangover. The only way of successfully avoiding a hangover is to drink less.

Myth 7: To avoid a hangover take a painkiller before you start to drink

While this may seem a good idea, the effects of the aspirin or ibuprofen will have worn off before your headache starts. Having painkillers in your system while still drinking can also cause problems in the lining of your stomach, and with alcohol containing some stomach irritants; it can lead to an inflamed liver which allows more alcohol into the bloodstream. This in turn can lead to severe liver damage. If you do want to use painkillers, they should be taken the next morning.

Myth 8: Eating before going to bed helps with alleviating your hangover

Unfortunately, by this point the alcohol has already been absorbed, and all food (greasy or otherwise!) is likely to do is give you acid reflux, which is likely to make you feel worse the next day. Instead, you are better off eating before you start drinking, although moderation is still required if you are to avoid a hangover.

Myth 9: Alcohol doesn't "kill brain cells" (but a night of drinking can damage the brain)

Drinking can have a short-term impact on your dendrites which help convey messages from the brain to the rest of the body. This can make it difficult to walk in a straight line, for example. However, drinking heavily on a regular basis can be much more problematic.