Last Updated on January 14, 2022
A glass of whiskey is often associated1 with masculinity and luxury in pop culture. It is smoky, smooth, and best enjoyed sipped, not chugged. But, even with the finest things in life, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Whiskey is unfortunately no exception.
Is Whiskey Bad For You?
Overall, the type of alcohol you drink has less bearing2 on your health than how much and how often you drink it. The downsides of drinking too much whiskey every day are similar to drinking too much alcohol in general. These include:
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of cancer
- Increased inflammation
- Damage to essential organs, leading to illnesses like pancreatitis and liver disease
- Compromised immune system
- Social, financial, and professional setbacks
How Much Whiskey Is Good For Your Health?
This depends on your age and personal biology3. Some studies suggest that moderate drinking has some health benefits. Other evidence suggests that the safest amount of whiskey is none at all. Moderate consumption4 of whiskey is defined as:
- Up to one whiskey per day for women
- Up to two whiskeys per day for men
This refers to a standard drink of 1.5 ounces, or about one regular shot.
Is One Whisky a Day Good For You?
- Improved heart health
- Improved mood and reduced stress
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of obesity
By this logic, if you drink one shot of whiskey every day, it might be somewhat beneficial for you.
However, there is still some debate about this. Some scientists argue that these benefits are a coincidence—that moderate drinkers also tend to have other healthy habits6, which are the real cause. And overall, each of the above benefits can also be gained from eating a good diet and getting enough exercise.
Is Drinking Whiskey Once A Week Good For You?
Drinking once a week is probably better than drinking whiskey every day. However, this doesn’t mean you should pack all the drinks you would’ve had in one week into a single day! Moderation—one to two servings—is still key.
That said, if you stick with this quantity, it’s likely to do you little harm.
Can Whiskey Cure a Cold?
While we often hear that a shot of whiskey is good for coughs and colds, in reality it generally makes things worse. Drinking alcohol weakens your immune system. And while high concentrations of alcohol can kill germs on surfaces, by the time whiskey reaches your bloodstream it’s too diluted to have any effect.
If you’re feeling ill, it’s best to stick to warm liquids and stay hydrated with water or electrolytes. And for cold prevention, you’re better off taking vitamin C and other immune boosters. Whiskey for coughs and colds will likely hurt more than it helps.
What Makes Whiskey Different From Other Drinks?
As a result of how whiskey is made, it does have some unique benefits and drawbacks that set it apart from other alcoholic beverages.
Whiskey has a high concentration of phenols, which result from the aging process. Studies show that people experience a phenol spike7 shortly after consuming whiskey. (New make whiskeys, which don’t undergo the same aging process, don’t have the same effect.)
- help reduce inflammation
- increase antioxidants, reducing the risk of a variety of diseases
This is one reason moderate amounts of whiskey might reduce the risk of heart disease. Although we should note that phenols are also found in many fruits, vegetables, and teas.
Aids weight loss
Whiskey is one of the lowest calorie8 alcoholic beverages out there—so long as it’s consumed straight and not combined with sugary mixers. If you’re counting calories or trying to lose weight, choosing whiskey over a higher-calorie alcoholic beverage can help you stay within your daily goals.
On the other hand, whiskey drinkers tend to report worse hangovers. A key reason is that whiskey has higher concentrations of congeners, a byproduct of fermentation that contributes to whiskey’s smell and taste.
People who are allergic or sensitive to rye, wheat, corn, or barley (the grains typically used to make whiskey) may experience an allergic reaction to this beverage. Depending on the person, these reactions may be severe—and the alcohol in whiskey may make them even worse.
What Can You Do If You Are Drinking Too Much Whiskey?
If you think you might be drinking more whiskey than is healthy, there are several things you can do to cut back.
- Choose specific times when you are allowed to drink, and set a specific drink maximum
- Pay attention to what times of day, and what situations you often drink in. Make a list of alternative things to do at those times, to replace drinking whiskey.
- Avoid drinking alcohol at home or keeping whiskey in the house
Of course, for many people this is easier said than done. If you feel you could use some extra support in quitting or cutting back on whiskey, there’s no shame in looking for help.
Ria Health offers flexible, online support from wherever you are. Choose moderation or abstinence, set your own goals, and get a plan customized to your unique needs. Best of all, you can access the whole thing right from your smartphone.