Humans have had a love affair with alcohol for thousands of years. Even the ancient Egyptians drank alcohol daily. Is alcohol good for you, though, or is it purely a vice that you should avoid?
There are a few good alcohol benefits that you can experience from drinking alcohol. But if you aren’t careful, you could also experience the negative effects of alcohol.
We are going to go over the good, the bad, and everything between so that you know what you’re getting yourself into as you enjoy your glass of vino or pint of beer.
Benefits of Consuming Alcohol
We are going to start with the positive. There are some health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption. The key here is to stick to moderate consumption rates.
For a healthy adult woman, moderate means one drink a day. Men older than age 65 also fall into the one drink a day group. Healthy men that are under the age of 65 can have two drinks a day.
Now let’s define what “one drink” means. This could be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
With moderate alcohol consumption, you can reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. You can also reduce your risk of ischemic stroke. This is when the arteries in your brain become narrow or blocked.
You may also reduce your risk of diabetes.
There are also the social and psychological benefits of drinking. During moderate drinking, you can gather with friends and create stronger bonds with those that you are close to. This will boost your mood and give you a sense of belonging and community.
You will also experience a relaxing effect as alcohol is a depressant. It also reduces the level of anxiety that you feel, meaning that moderate consumption should help you relieve stress.
There is also the “social lubricant” aspect. For those who tend to be on the shy side, a drink may loosen your inhibitions and allow you to become more social.
Alcohol and Alzheimer’s
A thirty-year study found that moderate intake of wine can help protect women from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The wine was even more effective when the only alcohol the women drank was wine.
Researchers weren’t confident about the source of these results, though. It could be from the higher ethanol in the wine, or that wine drinkers tend to adopt healthier lifestyles overall.
Negative Impact of Alcohol
While moderate drinking can give you some benefits, these all go away when you cross the line into heavy drinking. If you have more than three drinks in one day or seven over a week, then you are a heavy drinker. Binge drinking is when you have four or more drinks in less than two hours.
When you consume alcohol excessively, you increase your risk of several medical conditions. These range from physical to mental ailments.
- Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast
- Sudden death
- Heart damage
- Heart failure
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
One of the biggest problems with heavy drinking is the likelihood of developing a dependency. This is when you feel as though you need to drink to be able to do daily tasks. Or you may choose to drink over doing other activities that you used to enjoy. You’ll continue drinking even as you experience negative consequences in your life.
When alcohol becomes the priority in your life, everything else suffers. Your physical health will decline. Your relationships will grow distant. Your performance at work will decrease.
If you or others notice the signs of addiction in you, then it is time to consider an alcohol treatment program. Here you will detox and allow the alcohol in your system to flush out. Then the program will teach you how to live life without alcohol and how to manage your addiction.
Many people use a nightly drink to help them relax and fall asleep. The problem with this is that alcohol also disrupts your sleep cycle.
So while you are getting help falling asleep, your quality of sleep diminishes.
When Any Alcohol Use Is Damaging
There are certain times when even moderate alcohol consumption is damaging. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, then you shouldn’t drink. Alcohol can be harmful to your fetus and growing baby.
If you’ve been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, then you have a history of unhealthy alcohol use. You cannot control your consumption, and any drink is risking a full relapse.
Several medical conditions make drinking alcohol risky. If you’ve had a hemorrhagic stroke, liver disease, or pancreatic disease, then you should abstain from alcohol.
Finally, you need to check your prescriptions. Some medications can have an adverse reaction with alcohol and put you at higher risk for more severe complications.
Good Alcohol vs. Bad Alcohol
When it comes to drinking, you want to restrict your consumption to moderate so that you can experience the good alcohol affects. When you consume alcohol as a part of your healthy lifestyle, then you can experience the positive effects of alcohol both physically and mentally.
However, you want to monitor your consumption to ensure you don’t cross over into the excessive consumption amounts. Then you lose all benefits and gain a long list of risks.
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