If you’re like me, you’re planning to raise a glass (or several) in celebration this time of year.
Go for it!
While we’ve known about the benefits of red wine for some time, recent studies how that all alcoholic beverages have health benefits mostly related to their anti-inflammatory properties. That’s no small deal since chronic inflammation is connected to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoarthritis, just to name a few.
The documented health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption include:
Reduce the risk of developing heart disease
Reduce the risk of dying of a heart attack
Reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
Lower the risk of gallstones
Reduce the risk of diabetes
Of course, there’s a hitch that none of us likes very much. There’s a very fine line between benefit and harm where alcohol is concerned.
The Harvard Health Letter notes that while moderate drinking can increase the risk of colon and breast cancer, these risks are trumped by the boost in cardiovascular health—especially in middle age, when heart disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of disease and deaths.
Most docs tell their non-drinking patients that they shouldn’t feel the need to start drinking to improve their health. Heavy drinkers, with their increased risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, cirrhosis and alcohol dependence should cut back or stop drinking altogether. Pregnant women should also avoid alcohol, since it can cause brain damage to the unborn child.
So walk the fine line. Have your drink a day. But more than one tips the balance. That means, for women (unless you’re pregnant, then you know you shouldn’t drink at all), 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. For men, 6 ounces of wine, 16 ounces of beer and 2 ounces of hard liquor.
And, sorry, no fair saving up for the weekend and chugging down five drinks on Saturday night. Your intake needs to be evenly spaced and regular to get the health benefits you’re looking for.