Is Drinking Alcohol Healthy?

alcohol effect on health
There's nothing novel about alcohol consumption. Humans have been enjoying booze for ages. The oldest alcoholic drink dates to 7000 BC! We share a long history with alcohol. But does this history necessarily suggest a positive trend between human health and alcohol consumption? Let’s find out! Perceptions of alcohol are often very black and white — leaning more on the belief that it is, point blank, bad for health. Recent studies, however, point to certain health benefits associated with alcohol. Before you take that as your excuse to down multiple drinks every night, remember that these health benefits might only be accrued when alcohol is consumed in moderate quantities.

So, what does "moderate" mean? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking means a maximum of 2 drinks for men and 1 for women in a day. Here, one drink could mean 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits. But before you rush to the bottle to rejoice in this information, we should ideally cover the entire picture. 

But can alcohol be good for health? Let's break it down.

Researchers have developed a particular interest in studying the effects of alcohol on human health. While everyone's aware of the ill effects of excessive alcohol consumption, the impact of moderate alcohol consumption has sparked interest — blame it on lifestyle changes globally and the early adoption of alcohol as a social practice amongst younger audiences! Surprisingly, many studies have concluded that moderate alcohol consumption can benefit human health in certain ways.

1. It may improve heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Consuming alcohol in moderate quantities raises good cholesterol (HDL), lowers blood pressure, reduces blood clot formation, and briefly relieves anxiety and stress. Studies confirm that this reduces the risk of serious cardiovascular outcomes.

2. It may reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. A study suggests that drinking mild to moderate quantities of alcohol may enhance insulin sensitivity in individuals and help balance blood sugar levels.

3. It may make you live longer. Limiting your number of drinks may reduce the risk of premature death!

4. It may prevent the development of kidney stones. It is estimated that people who moderately drink beer have 41% fewer chances of getting kidney stones.

Notice how all of the benefits come with a heavy “may” attached to them? That is because alcohol will respond differently to different bodies — and could even have the opposite effect if you have underlying conditions exacerbated by alcohol consumption! Now that we have set that record straight, is there any specific alcoholic beverage that can benefit you the most? This won’t surprise many, but red wine should top your list if you drink alcohol only for those health benefits. According to many studies, red wine is good for health because it is antioxidant-rich, which can help decrease oxidative stress in the body.

The beauty lies in the balance

Well, what’s the verdict, then? Is alcohol good or bad for you? Should you keep it on your shelf or tucked neatly away in boxes far from your reach? It all comes down to balance. And caution. While many studies have identified the health benefits of alcohol, there's still more to learn. Avoiding alcohol is the best-case scenario, without a doubt. There are no benefits that alcohol offers that can’t be matched by a good workout! However, suppose total avoidance is impossible for you, for whatever reason. In that case, you should ideally try to drink in moderation, even if you are a healthy individual with no existing health issues. But, as usual, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep the things that can potentially cause you harm at bay!
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