The issue of alcohol consumption for its health benefits has always been a controversial one. Search “alcohol benefits” online and you’ll surely see page after page of articles listing down the benefits of alcohol consumption. However, try searching “alcohol health risks” and you’ll also surely see page after page of articles related to this as well. And in the age where much information is taken from the internet, these conflicting reports can be very confusing. So which is which?
If there’s one thing both camps can agree on, it’s that if you do not drink, then you don’t have to start just for the benefits. It’s acknowledged that the risks of alcohol intake outweigh the benefits, so staying away from it is still better on the whole. However if you do drink the best thing is to do so in moderation. It has been said that the following benefits can be derived from moderate alcohol consumption:
- Possibly lowering the risk of developing heart disease
- Possibly reducing the risk of death from a heart attack
- Possibly reducing the risk of strokes especially ischemic strokes
- Possibly lowering the risk of developing diabetes
- Lowering the risk of developing gall stones
This evidence is supported by promising studies, but they are not conclusive as of yet and the benefits might not be applicable to everyone who drinks alcohol. For instance, it is proposed that moderate alcohol consumption is most beneficial to people in their middle age years and those who are much older and younger are advised to avoid alcohol because it could do more harm than good.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women are advised not to go beyond one drink a day while for men, not beyond two drinks a day. One drink can mean 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine and 1.5 fluid ounces of hard alcohol or distilled spirits like tequila, vodka, etc.
There are certain instances where alcohol drinking should be avoided entirely. These include the following:
- You are under medications that interact with alcohol. Some medications can prove to be fatal when mixed with alcohol in the body. Consult with your doctor accordingly.
- You are pregnant or are trying to conceive.
- You have had a hemorrhagic stroke previously (bleeding in a blood vessel leading to or in the brain)
- You have a predisposition to addiction or have had previous problems with alcohol or substance abuse
- You have liver disease or pancreatic disease
- You’ve had a previous heart failure or you’ve been diagnosed as having a weakened heart
You should also take extra care about deciding to drink alcohol if:
- You have relatives who are alcoholics
- You take prescription medications
- You are taking pain medications
- You have a family history of breast cancer
- You are or suspect that you or might be suffering from cancer