But do the positive effects of drinking alcohol outweigh the negative effects of alcohol?
After all, most health authorities agree that if you don’t drink now, it’s best not to start. So, if alcohol offers such great benefits, why not drink?
The fact is; drinking alcohol harms far more people than it helps or heals.
Although moderate drinking offers some health benefits to certain people, it’s very easy to start to drink too much, which can lead to serious health problems and consequences. So drinking alcohol is a slippery slope.
What are the Health Effects of Alcohol?
In the early 1990’s 60 Minutes did a show called “The French Paradox” promoting the idea that drinking red wine decreases heart disease risk. Many people saw this as a medical recommendation to drink.
And while moderate drinking has been shown to boost heart health, especially in middle aged men, it also increases many health risks.
Every drink you take raises your risk for cancer of the liver, mouth and throat, colon, rectum and, for women, the risk of breast cancer. Drinking also causes birth defects like brain damage in an unborn child.
And, for heavy and binge drinkers, drinking increases the risk for cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, as well as
- and violence.
So when it comes to health, alcohol is sort of a Jekyll and Hyde deal.
And which effect alcohol has on you – good or evil – depends mainly on who you are and how much you drink. For most moderate drinkers, alcohol does offer some health benefits. But what’s considered moderate?
How to Stay Healthy Drinking Alcohol
Moderate drinking for a woman is no more than one drink a day. (All pregnant women should totally avoid drinking any alcohol whatsoever.)
For men, it’s up to two drinks a day. Here are the guidelines per drink:
- 12 oz. beer,
- 5 ounces of wine,
- 1½ ounces of hard liquor.
If you can always stay within the limits listed above and can answer “no” to most of the questions below, there’s probably no need to stop drinking.
- Do you ever feel bad or guilty about drinking?
- Does anyone criticize or object to your drinking?
- Do you ever think you should cut down on drinking?
- Have you ever taken a drink first thing in the morning?
- Do you ever drink more than the recommended amount?
And here are the 5 most important suggestions for a drinker to stay healthy:
1. Take nutritional supplements with B-complex. Drinking alcohol destroys some nutrients in the body. This is particularly true of B vitamins like folic acid, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers of the colon and breast. So besides eating a healthy diet, include a complete multi-supplement.
2. Drink only in moderation based on guidelines. Whatever you drink, wine, beer or hard liquor, to get any health benefits at all, it’s essential that you always follow the moderation guidelines above.
3. If you can’t follow the guidelines, don’t drink. If you or someone you care about thinks that you might have a drinking problem, it may be time to either quit, seek a second opinion or get help.
4. When out and about have a designated driver. Alcohol and driving can be fatal for you and others. If you’ve had anything to drink, and it’s time to head home, give your car keys to someone who hasn’t been drinking. Or, better yet, plan ahead for a designated driver.
5. If you don’t drink now, there’s no need to start. There are better ways to boost heart health, like a healthy diet with good fats, veggies and whole grains, more physical activity and losing weight.
Here are some interesting statistics about alcohol that may surprise you:
- About 67% of all adults drink alcohol and around 6% are alcoholics.
- There are more than 12 million alcoholics in the U.S., making alcohol the number one drug problem in America.
- Between 33% and 41% of all fatal car crashes in the U.S. involve a driver who has been drinking.
- Somebody is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every 48 minutes.
- Studies show nearly 7 million 12 to 20 year olds are binge drinkers.
- Adolescents who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who don’t start until 21 or older.
- The wealthier a person is and the more education they have, the more likely they are to drink.
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