health benefits risks alcohol

We wouldn’t want to call alcohol a healthy beverage choice, but it does have some benefits (and risks).

Observational studies, which look at what different groups of people eat and drink, have seen that people who drink a moderate amount of alcohol have a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke. Other potential health benefits have been observed, but there is not strong enough evidence to say that alcohol deserves the credit.

What is a moderate intake of alcohol?

If you are a woman, that means one drink or less per day. For a man, it is two or fewer drinks per day.

What counts as one drink?

Of course, if you’re pouring your wine into a pint glass and calling that one drink we may have a problem! Try measuring out the volume of one drink into a glass. Perhaps start with pouring yourself a drink of water to the volume you usually pour your alcoholic drink and then measure how many fluid ounces you’re actually drinking.

12 oz. beer (at 5% alcohol by volume)
or  4-5 oz. wine (12-15% alcohol by volume)
or  1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits
or  1 oz. of 100-proof spirits

Remember, the limits stated above are for each day, not a weekly average. So you cannot abstain for six days, then drink an entire bottle of wine (which is more than five servings) on the seventh day, and say that you have only had one drink per day this week.

Wahoo! There are benefits to drinking alcohol?

Yes, in theory, the benefits from alcohol could come from its ability to (slightly) raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and reduce the likelihood of clot formation. Wine and beer contain polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant, and antioxidants help protect the human body from cardiovascular and other diseases.

If you don’t already drink, please do not take up drinking for its alleged health benefits. #SavorTheFlavor… Click To TweetOf course it is possible that the healthy attributes seen in people who drink alcohol may come from other lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, diet, stress management, social connectivity or something else for which the study did not account.

But wait…we know there are risks to drinking alcohol too

Consuming alcohol is known to have risks. Alcohol raises triglycerides, a type of “bad” fat in the blood. It can increase your risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, several types of cancer and alcohol dependence. It can also lead to accidents, injuries and mental problems.

Benefit – Risk Assessment

So you might ask yourself, “Are the possible benefits of drinking alcohol worth the risks?” You can get your antioxidants from other foods, like fruits and vegetables. You can do other things to protect your heart and your overall health: be physically active, eat healthy foods, control your response to stress and build a good social network. If you don’t already drink, please do not take up drinking for its alleged health benefits. If you do drink, please remember to do so in moderation.

P.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that some people should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

·         younger than age 21,

·         pregnant or trying to become pregnant,

·         taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that may cause harmful reactions when mixed with alcohol,

·         recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink,

·         have a medical condition that may be made worse by alcohol,

·         driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.

Are you struggling to make healthy? Or not seeing the desired impact? Make an appointment today to connect with our register dietitians and they will analyze and make a scientifically based plan specifically for you and your special needs.