Modern society is notably ambivalent in regards to alcohol consumption. While some people have a marked bias against liquor, others seem to overindulge on it, thus leaving the middle ground in the shadows. The health benefits of alcohol are grossly ignored nowadays in light of the current social scorn heaped on alcoholism.
As for many other things out there, the secret to enjoying the full advantages of alcohol is consuming it in moderation. The vast majority of its negative effects actually come from the excess intake. This is precisely why the good name of the occasional glass of wine needs to be restored, as it comes with a great many health benefits.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
When you ingest an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol is absorbed from your stomach and small intestine into the blood stream. Therefore, it reaches virtually every organ in your body. The depressant effect it has on the central nervous system is by far the most notable one.
The alcohol in your bloodstream is then metabolized in the liver. However, this is a complex process and it takes quite a lot of time, thus leaving the excess amount of alcohol in your circulatory system. When you drink a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time, your liver is incapable of metabolizing it fast enough and you begin to experience drunkenness.
As you might know, the most common symptoms include slurred speech, dizziness, flushed skin, euphoria, impaired balance, muscle coordination, and decision-making abilities, as well as nausea and vomiting.
What Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption?
According to the Department of Health, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men and 2-3 units for women. One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10 ml of pure alcohol, which you can find in 25 ml of spirits (40% alcohol) or half a pint of regular beer (3-4% alcohol).
However, moderate alcohol consumption is also defined by frequency, as daily alcohol intake is not recommended. The Royal College of Physicians advises people to have at least 2-3 alcohol-free days a week.
Another thing that you should bear in mind is that these general limits should also be adapted to how you react to alcohol personally. The effects of alcohol depend on a wide range of factors, such as age, sex, physical condition, the amount of food consumed prior to drinking, the use of prescription drugs before or after drinking, and the amount of time the alcohol was consumed in.
They also depend on how fast you are able to metabolize the alcohol you have ingested. Therefore, without exceeding the limits mentioned above, you can experiment to identify the ideal quantity of alcohol for you.
5 Notable Health Benefits of Alcohol
As long as you limit your alcohol intake to the recommended amount, you can enjoy its beneficial effects. Take a look at our list to get an idea about how a little bit of alcohol can work to your advantage.
1. Alcohol Can Help You Relieve Stress
In small doses, the effect that alcohol has on the central nervous system can be a true godsend. Allowing yourself a glass a wine or bourbon after a hard day of work every once in a while might help you to reduce the stress you have accumulated.
Instead of resorting to another glass after that one, try combining the wine with other stress management strategies. Enjoy your drink with your friends and tell them about your day because venting might actually make a difference.
Furthermore, allow them to distract you from your problems. Listen to what they have to say and you might find that there are many more things out there that are worth your attention.
2. Alcohol Can Reduce Your Social Anxiety
Sometimes, the weight of the world becomes too much to handle and you might find it difficult to ignore certain social aspects that interfere with your daily activities. But if the time and setting allow it, having a small drink might actually help you relax.
Alcohol has a notable depressant effect on the part of your brain that controls your inhibitions. Sometimes this might be just what you need to unwind and have a great time. As long as you do not exceed your limits, the alcohol will actually help you relax, which could prove extremely useful.
However, making a habit of this is clearly not recommended because it could become more and more difficult to stick to one drink. Moreover, perceiving alcohol as a universal antidote for your social issues is not the right way to go about things.
Our advice is that you regard alcohol as a mere tool that you can put to good use from time to time. Try combining it with other methods for fighting social anxiety and in time, you will be able to reap the benefits.
3. Alcohol Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
Moderate alcohol consumption has been proven to have some extremely beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Because it reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and it raises good cholesterol (HDL), alcohol can actively prevent the clogging of your arteries.
Red wine is by far your best choice, as it is also rich in antioxidants. Enjoying a glass of wine with your dinner might be extremely useful on the long run. You do not need to drink it daily to get these effects and you do not need to have more than one glass.
Aside from the occasional drink, a well-balanced diet, and a cardio workout every now and then can help you keep your heart healthy.
4. A Little Bit of Alcohol Can Keep Your Brain Strong
The nature of the effect that alcohol has on your brain depends on the consumption patterns you develop. While long-term excessive use can lead to significant brain damage, it seems that sticking to the recommended amounts might actually keep it healthy.
Recent studies conducted by Loyola University Chicago have relayed that moderate alcohol intake can actually prevent cognitive impairment on the long run. By increasing HDL cholesterol levels, alcohol can improve the blood flow to the brain and thus help improve brain function.
5. Alcohol Can Lower Your Chance of Developing Gallstones
This is yet another beneficial effect generated by the effect that alcohol has on cholesterol metabolism. Researchers from the University of East Anglia have pointed out that long-term moderate alcohol consumption can reduce a person’s risk of developing gallstones by one-third.
Low Calorie Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol has been associated with weight gain, but there are quite a few combinations out there that you can resort to if you want to keep your weight within normal limits. Cocktails usually have a high amount of calories because of the juices and syrups that are usually added. For example, 150 ml of Pina Colada (13%) can have between 290 and 480 calories while a 375 ml can or rum and cola (4,6%) can have up to 248 calories.
Vodka is the lowest calorie alcohol option you have and if you want to include it in a cocktail, you should probably go with vodka and soda. 30 ml of vodka and 150 ml or soda only amount to 64 calories, so this is clearly your best choice. Add a little bit of lemon juice for extra flavor.
On the other hand, there are some diet cocktails that you should avoid at all costs. It might seem like a good idea to mix diet energy drinks and spirits like vodka or whiskey. While it might not amount to a high caloric intake, this combination is by far the worst you can make.
The energy drink can actually mask the effects of the alcohol and you might not realize the extent of your current state of inebriation, which could lead you to have one drink or many drinks too many.
In conclusion, there are quite a few health effects of alcohol that are actually worth your attention. Having a drink from time to time might actually keep you happier and healthier. As previously mentioned, the secret to being able to do this is drinking in moderation.
As long as you limit your intake to the recommended amounts, you can enjoy the health benefits of alcohol. So, have a little bit of wine with your dinner tonight because it will do you a lot of good on the long term!