The Surprising Health Benefits of Alcohol

Medical research conducted by reputable scientists has revealed that there are health benefits associated with moderate use of alcoholic beverages and may be considered a viable part of a natural health lifestyle.

Maybe this should not be so shocking in light of alcohol’s existence and use throughout the ages by all civilizations. There are mentions of vineyards and wine in the oldest books of the Holy Bible. Historical findings indicate that the kings of Babylon and the pharaohs of Egypt enjoyed their own brews of beer as well.

Perhaps it is because of our Puritan heritage, or maybe because of our memories of Prohibition days with its “speak easies”, Al Capone and mob violence, but the mention of alcohol consumption in America often brings with it a negative connotation. Or perhaps it is the specter of alcoholism that puts us off. Regardless, it’s high time-forgive the phrase- to dispel the rumors and fears and take a closer look at how alcohol can actually help keep you in a healthier state.

There are a number of factors that will help determine how much, or even if the use of alcohol will be of health benefit to an individual. In general, does this person lead a healthy lifestyle? Does he or she smoke? Exercise regularly? How healthy is their diet? How often do they imbibe? And how much? Do they have any conditions, including hereditary ones, which alcohol might adversely effect?

Obviously, there is much to be considered before adding alcohol to one’s dietary regimen. If you are unsure about the wisdom of alcohol use in your particular case, seek a doctor’s advice. Now, let’s look at some of those discovered benefits.

All Things in Moderation

There is still much study being done on the specific health benefits of liquor, beer, and wine. But it seems that to a great degree the positive effects are the same for the moderate use of any of these, indicating that the alcohol itself is the key component. The alcohol derived from a shot of liquor is little different from an equal amount found in a beer or a glass of wine.

Moderate use is usually defined as between one and three drinks a day. Due to typical body weight and metabolism, however, it seems that women usually do best in the 1 to 1.5/ day range. Men are usually OK in the 1 to 3 range. Anything over these ranges may border on binging, or abuse. Even if it’s just an occasional Saturday night bash, the detrimental effects of alcohol abuse far outweigh the health benefits of daily moderation. Besides, who wants to deal with curing a hangover curing a hangover anyway?

Alcohol Use in General

When it comes to beers and wines – the darker the better it seems. This is because the darker beverages have greater concentrations of chemical compounds known as flavonoids than do their lighter cousins. These compounds have much to do with the health benefits of alcoholic beverages in general.

The flavonoids in alcohol are responsible for health benefits, such as reduced risk of strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension. Their action in the blood stream reduces the tendency for blood platelets to form clots and helps prevent artery walls from constricting, or narrowing, which restricts blood flow. More blood to the brain and other organs means more oxygen, fewer wastes and contaminants and healthier tissues as a result.

Moderate alcohol use increases HDL, or good cholesterol levels, and lowers LDL, or bad cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of heart disease. It also helps reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 30%, protects against stomach ulcers due to certain bacteria, and may be a hedge against rheumatoid arthritis. It also aids in the brain’s cognitive functions and even helps prevent dementia in the elderly.

Modern medical research is now looking at many health problems and diseases as the results of both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions in the body. For instance, atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, is now thought to be an inflammatory disease of the arteries. Moderate alcohol use may help combat such illnesses due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

Psychological health seems to improve as well as physical health with moderate alcohol consumption. It reduces stress and gives a generally better outlook and sense of well-being. Just think of how much more relaxed you feel when sipping a glass of wine or a cold beer after a hard day at work! Ahhhh, that’s so good!

Beer’s Particular Health Benefits

Along with the general health benefits associated with all alcoholic beverages, there are a few benefits that are either peculiar to, or are more abundant in beer. Beer is brewed from raw natural grains such as malted barley, wheat, rice, or corn. This makes it rich in many of the B vitamins, minerals, and some types of proteins. The presence of some B’s helps reduce heart attack risk because of reduced homocysteine levels, which is associated with heart disease.

The high fiber content in some beers lowers cholesterol levels, also protecting the heart and arteries. It also helps reduce the formation of both kidney and gall stones. The silicon found in beer may combat bone disease such as osteoporosis by making it possible for calcium to bond to bone tissue. The flavonoids found in the hops used to brew beer may help to prevent cancer and may be useful in some hormone replacement therapies.

Beer is even used in spas as a treatment to promote healthy skin. It is said that Cleopatra used to soak in the stuff for its benefits to her skin. Perhaps that’s why she was so beer-resistible to most men. With that, I think I should be going.

A toast of good health to you, my friends! Return from Health Benefits of Alcohol to Did You Know?

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