Humans have been drinking alcohol since they came into existence. They have been debating about the effects of alcohol ever since. It is a drug called Ethanol (as if you care!), which is psychoactive that leads to us going bonkers when we have it in excess (binge drinking).
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However, there are health benefits of alcohol if we do moderate drinking. It is healthy for the heart, type 2 diabetes, circulatory system and gallstones.
Here are a Few More Health Benefits of Alcohol When Taken in Moderation
1. Drinking Alcohol Makes You Lead a Stronger and Happier Life
If you drink on special occasions only, then you can end up adding a few extra years to your life (Yay! more years to drink!) A study by a university in Italy showed that consuming two or four drinks a day for women and men respectively reduces the percentage of death by 18%.
Small amount of alcohol, preferably with meals seems to be the right way to drink. Wine, especially, is ideal to be taken with lunch OR (one time only) dinner. The rest of the day must be alcohol free.
2. Increases Your Prowess in Bed and Makes Sure You “Rise to Every Occasion”
As opposed to the old belief, modern researchers have concluded that moderate alcohol consumption is a good medicine to protect men from impotency just like red wine is beneficial for the heart.
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3. Risk of Cardiovascular Disease is Lowered (Doesn’t mean that extra weight doesn’t matter now)
Researchers at Harvard University reported observing a rise in levels of high density lipoproteins, HDL or “good” cholesterol on consumption of alcohol in moderate amount. Higher HDL levels provide better protection against heart diseases (Basically, improves your heart’s plumbing).
Moderate alcohol consumption also improves sensitivity to insulin and factors related to clotting of blood. Hence the chances of blood clots that caused blocked arteries in the heart, brain and neck are relatively decreased. The health benefits of alcohol of this study are applicable to both women and men.
4. Protection Against Common Cold (This virus can make the prettiest woman look ugly)
While the chances of catching the common cold are increased by smoking, intake of alcohol in moderate amount decreases chances of common cold. (Bring out the beer bottles!!!)
Wine is said to decrease chances of developing the common cold by a whopping 60%! Scientists say it has something to do with the antioxidant properties of wine.
5. Less Chance of Gallstones
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia, drinking two standard drinks of alcohol daily can decrease the risk of gallstones by one-third. They also said that if consumed in excess, alcohol can adversely affect a person’s health.
6. Decreases Chances of Dementia (Means you won’t piss your pants like Julianne Moore did in Still Alice)
While the short term effects of alcohol involve memory loss, long term effects of alcohol involve decrease in the chances of Dementia. A study back in 1977 reported that moderate drinkers are 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, cognitive impairment or dementia.
The benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation makes brain cells more fit and toughens them up to cope with stress in the future. If the consumption is truly moderate, it can actually be beneficial.
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7. Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Various studies have associated binge drinking with increased risk of diabetes. However, some studies have found that a moderate intake can reduce the chances of developing this condition.
A study published in the journal of American Diabetes Association, found that the participants who consumed moderate alcohol, around 6-48 g a day, were 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as compared to heavy drinkers and non-drinkers.
These findings were also supported by a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition.
8. Improves Memory
Too many drinks can play havoc with your memory, but some studies suggest that light or moderate alcohol consumption can give you an improved memory.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that moderate or light alcohol consumption improved participants’ thinking skills and memory, particularly of women and those aged 70 or above.
Similarly, older individuals who engage in moderate drinking have higher episodic memory – the ability to remember events.
They will also have a larger volume in the hippocampus, a brain region which plays a crucial role in the memory, through boosting the growth of new nerve cells in that region of the brain.
Words of Caution
Keep this thing in mind that alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks moderately. Also, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that non-drinkers should up their alcohol intake.
In addition to that, people with alcohol addiction or a less severe alcohol use should not be swayed in engaging in alcohol use just because some studies have documenting health benefits of alcohol.
Our take away home message is very simple: Any health benefits of alcohol are likely to be overpowered by the many adverse health risks of drinking it.
Look people, anything consumed in extreme is always going to be harmful for you. Moderation is the best way to go when it comes to alcohol consumption. And for those non-drinkers who came across this article, DON’T START DRINKING!
This article on the health benefits of alcohol is for those who have already reserved a berth in hell (Yeah right!) for drinking. And for those who do drink, let me quote a character from Inglorious Bastards:
“There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch”
So get those glasses out and drink your way to good health!
FAQs Related to Alcohol
Are risks and health benefits of alcohol different for men and women?
Well, there is a gender gap in drinking alcohol as even light to moderate drinking can lead to female breast cancer.
For men, light to moderate drinking is not related to risk of cancer. That doesn’t mean that its protective but it won’t increase the risk.
Other individual factors, like living in an area with high pollutants level, may boost the cancer risk.
Does the type of alcohol influence its health benefits?
Some types of alcoholic beverages have healthier health effects than others. For example, a study showed that individuals who drank 1 glass of wine, not beer or liquor, a day had 56% reduced risk of getting Barrett’s esophagus as compared to teetotalers.
Some experts also say that red wine is better for your heart than white because of antioxidants like resveratrol, which are found in greater amounts in red wine.
However, the pattern of drinking matters more than the type of beverage.
Is there a truly safe level of drinking alcohol?
There is no universally safe level as a safe level for one person may not be for another.
But, there is a sensible level of drinking, which must be tailored to the individual.
And yes, “saving up” all the drinks reasonable per week and drinking them all at once is called binge drinking not sensible drinking.
Therefore, experts also advise not to drink more than two or three times a week.
To be on the safe side, a glass of wine or other alcohol maybe twice a week is enough. However, a healthier pattern for many individuals is to have a small amount every day.
Can drinking alcohol kill brain cells?
No. To read more about it read this.