In the magazines you read and news stories you follow, health benefits of alcohol are all the buzz. Lower risk of heart disease and longer life expectancy are just a couple of the many positive effects you’ve probably seen linked to moderate drinking. But with so much hype surrounding the benefits of booze, it kind of makes you wonder how much of it is fact and how much of it is fiction?
You may be coming off the holiday season wanting to ‘clean up your act’ and calling into question your current drinking practices. So in this post, we’re answering your frequently asked questions on alcohol and its health benefits, as well as how much and what types to have.
That all depends on one thing: whether or not you’re already a drinker. Believe it or not, the American Heart Association recommends drinking alcohol in moderation only if it’s something you already do. If you’re not a drinker however, they feel there’s really no reason to pick up the habit.
When it comes to health and drinking, scientific evidence has suggested a number of positive effects, but a number of negative ones too. We see research that links drinking in moderation can be beneficial to the heart. But on the flip side of that coin, we also know drinking can increase our risk for other illnesses, like liver disease and certain types of cancer. Recently, researchers have gone so far as to question the study designs used to draw connections between alcohol and health benefits in the first place. What this really means is we can’t draw any major conclusions from the science just yet.
Drinking moderately is thought to be a generally safe, possibly even healthy way to wind down for those of us with no serious medical conditions. But keep in mind that moderation is key. Women should have no more than one drink per day and men should have no more than two drinks daily.
One 5-ounce glass of wine, one 1.5-ounce cocktail, or one 12-ounce beer.
Red wine packs the antioxidant resveratrol. Beer contains beneficial B vitamins and yeast. And many mixed drinks contain fresh citrus juices (think lemon, lime, orange) that provide vitamin C. It’s hard to say whether one is better than the other. This rings especially true when it comes to calorie content, which can vary greatly from drink to drink.
If you’re familiar with our nutrition practice, you know that REBELdietitians don’t believe counting calories is an effective means to managing weight anyway. That being said, we won’t ignore the fact that not all drinks are created equal and we don’t expect you to, either! We’re going to leave you with a few tried and true tips for choosing better booze.
Any possible health benefits of drinking will do nothing for you if you’re drinking heavily. Chronic or high-volume drinking increases your risk of heart failure, stroke, and more. Have any chronic diseases? Drinking affects those with hypertension and diabetes differently and may have more negative impact on their livers, pancreas, heart, and immune system.
If the alcohol you’re having is bottom shelf, or loaded with syrup, honey, or artificial fruit flavoring, chances are it’s drowning in sugar and might lead to a nasty hangover later on.
Those fizzy bubbles that float magically up the side of your cocktail have a dark secret: carbonation increases the amount of alcohol that will reach your bloodstream. For this reason, it’s good to be wary of champagne and other bubbly beverages, especially if you’re a sensitive drinker.
Alcohol will dehydrate you, so it is important to drink plenty of water when consuming alcoholic beverages! A good rule of thumb, have 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage that you consume.
Having cake, cookies and candies while drinking adds more sugar to the equation, which ups the chance you won’t be feeling well the following morning.
Neurotransmitter galanin kicks into high gear when you drink, making it more difficult to decipher true hunger from a craving that strikes you on a full stomach.
You should never sacrifice food calories in an attempt to save up or to compensate for drinking.
You have the option of sitting this one out (you WILL eat again next time you’re hungry…this is not a now or never moment). Or ask for a taste of whatever your friend is having.