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Moderate Alcohol Consumption

By Lavender October 23, 2009

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Alcohol, formerly known as the “truth drug,” and used throughout much of history for medicinal purposes, has been around for quite some time now. Its popularity remains and grows (especially in this economy), as evidenced by the seemingly uncontrollable drinking by our worldly population.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, provided we drink in moderation, but I find it has a slightly different definition in the real world versus those damn dietary guidelines (whatever they are, right?) that are impossible to follow, and everyone ignores. Seriously…one drink for women…two for men—who can follow those recommendations?

Well, I am not here to lecture you about how you need to drink in moderation, or that you should drink at all. I am sure some of you do not drink—that is OK, and probably healthier overall. All I want to do is inform you of some of the potential health benefits of “moderate” alcoholic intakes.

I am sorry, but you cannot average out your alcohol intakes to receive these benefits: i.e., 10 drinks Saturday night does not average to just over one drink a day for the week—the body does not work that way. Moderate consumption is one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. Much more than this, and the severely negative health effects come into play.

Let us start with the cardiovascular system. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to work wonders for the heart and blood. It has been demonstrated to decrease the risk of heart attacks and stroke significantly. It may do so by reducing unwanted clotting of the blood (reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and clogged arteries), and raising HDL cholesterol levels (i.e., the “good” cholesterol that helps clear your arteries). In other words, moderate alcohol consumption improves blood flow throughout the body. This also may have a good effect in the bedroom. Along these same lines, alcohol reduces the risk of high blood pressure.

In addition to heart diseases, moderate alcohol consumption is suggested to ward off other diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. Increased insulin sensitivity prevents diabetes following long-term moderate alcohol consumption, while increased bone mineral density battles bone-degeneration disorders such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Research shows that moderate alcohol consumption improves concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language over the long term, which obviously would help fight the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.

Without going into the details, alcohol has many other diseases and ailments as its enemies, including gallstones, kidney stones, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers (e.g., kidney and pancreatic, plus non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), stress/anxiety, and poor digestion.

I know we have been told that alcohol will ruin our diets and our health. This is true when it’s consumed in excessive amounts. However, moderate consumption has proven to have significant health benefits, as mentioned above.

Perhaps the most important point is that most research has found significant increases in longevity (20 to 30 percent decreases in all-cause mortality) in moderate consumers when compared to nonconsumers and heavy consumers. Let us drink to that!

This is not an excuse to drink on a daily basis unless, you can keep it under control. This is a reason to have that glass of wine with dinner, or a couple of beers after work.

Despite its horrible street credibility in the “diet” world, alcohol even can be enjoyed within the limits of most diets. If your diet forbids it, you need a new one—unless of course you are a recovering addict, or some other health ailment is causing the restriction.

I am not trying to promote alcohol consumption, especially in excess, but now, at least, we can enjoy our moderate alcohol habits with a little less worry about our health.

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