VANCOUVER -- With restaurants and liquor stores offering delivery and carry-out cocktails, many people working from home and the stress of an international health crisis, it's no surprise that the pandemic has us drinking more. But that can come with some potential downsides.

"Heavy drinking is obviously not healthy and can damage the liver and heart and cause other health problems," says Trisha Calvo with Consumer Reports. "But even moderate drinking may be harmful over time, increasing the risk for some cancers and affecting the good gut bacteria and their ability to protect against illness."

An April Nanos poll, commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, found that 25 per cent of Canadians between 35 and 54 say they have been drinking more since the pandemic began, as have 21 per cent of those between 18 and 34 years old. 

But even small amounts of alcohol can interact with some medications, so it's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance. 

For most people, a glass of wine or beer with dinner is generally fine. And now that things are opening up, you can finally go for a drink with friends. But it's important not to overdo it, so try to stick to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man. 

And be sure you know what actually counts as one drink – it's probably less than you think. One beer is about 350 ml, while one glass of wine is just under 150 ml and a serving of spirits - a shot - is 45 ml. 

Because wine glasses come in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, don't eyeball it – use a measuring cup. And Consumer Reports suggests skipping the extra glass of wine before bed. 

"Alcohol may help you nod off, but it interferes with brain changes that occur in the later stages of sleep," Calvo says. "So you may not sleep as well or even wake up in the middle of the night." 

And always remember to drink water. Good hydration helps your cells function and your body eliminate waste, which enables your immune system to work better. And it prevents headaches and muscle fatigue, aids digestion, and even boosts your mood.

With files from Consumer Reports