The pros and cons of alcohol

By October 15, 2014Addiction

Every week you get hit by a new opinion on what alcohol might do to, or for, you. So, is it good or bad to have a glass of wine with dinner? It turns out that regular moderate drinking has quite a few benefits – let’s see what that means.

How much is ‘moderate’?

The guideline for moderate drinking is: one drink a day for women and two for men. And that’s per day, not going dry through the week and then drinking it all on Friday! For people who need exact measurements, the standard definition of “one drink” is:

  • 355mL of beer
  • 148mL of wine
  • 25mL (roughly a shot) of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor

The benefits of drinking alcohol moderately

  • It can protect your heart. One drink a night can cut the risk of heart disease by up to 40%. Alcohol can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, raise good (HDL) cholesterol, and reduce blood problems that can lead to clogged arteries.
  • Light drinking can boost your brainpower, and drinking moderately can help prevent cognitive decline. Researchers believe that since moderate drinking raises good cholesterol, it can improve blood flow to the brain.
  • One glass a day can keep you slim. If consumed regularly in moderation, alcohol can help fight fat. Researchers believe that the bodies of long-term moderate drinkers somehow adapt to metabolise alcohol differently to people who binge-drink a couple of nights a week. Remember: moderate.
  • It can reduce diabetes risk. It seems that moderate amounts of alcohol can make easier for your body to process glucose and use it as energy, lowering the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
  • Moderate drinking may prevent gallstones. Gallstones form inside the gallbladder and are generally made up of hardened cholesterol. Add a little alcohol to your diet – while it increases good cholesterol in your bloodstream, it also affects cholesterol in the gallbladder.
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The dark side of alcohol

  • It can damage your skin. Booze is a diuretic, which means that it dries you out, literally. Too much alcohol leaves skin dry and dull. It also widens the blood vessels on your face.
  • Drinking a lot is fattening. Alcohol has calories, and going over two drinks a day will see you steadily packing on weight over time.
  • Alcohol can damage your liver forever. Heavy drinking can cause cirrhosis and hepatitis – both very serious diseases.
  • A little booze may help your heart, but binge-drinking much can increase your blood pressure and damage the muscles of your heart.
  • Drinking too much is just plain dangerous – it can make you act inappropriately, create a potential for addiction and can cause drinking and driving accidents.
  • Lastly, and this one is horrible: alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus and colon, as well as some breast cancer.

Keep drinking moderate

The latest numbers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism tell us that 1 in 3 people will become addicted to alcohol at some point in their lives, and only 25% of people with a problem get treated. So it makes sense to keep your personal health profile and history in mind when you’re deciding how much to drink.

For more health and wellness information that meets you needs, visit our Hello Doctor website. And if you want health on the go, download our mobile app from your phone’s online app store. It’s that quick and that easy.