Beer's relatively low alcohol content among alcoholic beverages doesn't decrease its potentially negative impact on your bodily systems, especially if you consume it in excess. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, an acceptable daily level of beer consumption is one 12 ounce serving for women and two 12 ounce servings for men. If you average more beer than this per day, you fall into the CDC's "heavy drinking" category.
A diuretic is any substance that increases your body's urine production. Alcohol works as a diuretic in part by stimulating the bladder. Alcohol also suppresses a pituitary gland hormone that is responsible for inhibiting the diuretic effect. This makes your kidneys unable to reabsorb as much liquid as usual. The result is a substantial increase in your urine output, according to an article appearing in a 1998 issue of "Alcohol Health & Research World."
Drinking 50 grams of alcohol in 250 milliliters of liquid -- the equivalent of four beers -- leads to a urine output of between 600 and 1,000 milliliters over the next few hours. People who start drinking beer in a dehydrated state will not experience as much of an increase in urine output as those who begin drinking in a normally hydrated condition, reports a study in the July-August 2010 issue of "Alcohol and Alcoholism."
Despite the fact that you're pouring liquid into your body, drinking beer actually promotes dehydration. Because alcohol increases your urine production, your body begins to eliminate more liquid than you're taking in through drinking beer. The more beer you consume, the greater your risk of becoming dehydrated. Not only does your urine output increase, but also you can lose additional fluids due to the diarrhea, vomiting and increased sweating associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
Attempting to prevent dehydration from beer consumption can increase your urination frequency and output, but it's worthwhile to make the effort and avoid the discomfort and potential health risks associated with severe dehydration. Drinking water in between alcoholic beverages may also help limit your alcohol consumption. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recommends that you drink at least one 8 ounce glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage you consume.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Frequently Asked Questions; July 2010
- Urology Care Foundation: Bladder Control Problems
- "Alcohol Health and Research World"; Alcohol Hangover Mechanisms and Mediators; Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D., et al.; 1998
- "Alcohol and Alcoholism"; Hydration Status and the Diuretic Action of a Small Dose of Alcohol; R.M. Hobson et al.; July-August 2010
- MedlinePlus; Hangover Treatment; David C. Dugdale, III, MD; May 2011
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Fact Sheets: Alcohol Use and Health; July 2010
- MedlinePlus; Alcohol Use and Safe Drinking; David Zieve, MD, MHA; March 2011
- MedlinePlus; Dehydration; Linda J. Vorvick, MD; August 2009