It is a known fact that heavy drinking is not only harmful for health, but also dims the senses. It is regarded as one of the major causes of road accidents. But, what about moderate drinking?
Many people swear that a little alcohol is good for the system and doesn’t impair the senses while driving. However, there is enough evidence to show that this may not be entirely true.
So, what is the truth? Who is right and who is wrong?
Dr. Sam Zakhari, Director, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, sums it up by saying,
“There are some negatives and some positives (to moderate drinking), so decisions about whether to drink really depend on people’s individual situation.”
Although I personally enjoy a variety of unique cultural beers such as German, Belgian, Czech and Polish beers, I ensure I never break the barrier of “moderate drinking.”
Keep reading below to learn more about the good and bad of moderate drinking!
Moderate Drinking Definition
The definition of moderate drinking differs from person to person. However, if a man takes no more than two drinks a day and a woman one, it constitutes moderate drinking.
According to Dr. Robert Gish, San Diego School of Medicine, University of California, one drink is equal to one bottle of beer and a glass of wine equals one shot of liquor.
Moderate drinking has to be on a daily basis to qualify as such. If you consume seven drinks one day and don’t drink for the rest of the week to average it out to same amount, it is not the same thing. This has even more damaging effects on health.
Despite this knowledge, it has been observed that moderate drinkers tend to over drink. If habitual drinkers stick to the defined moderate consumption, it may do good to their health, but then again.
Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Drinking
Check out these pros of moderate drinking, which show that moderate alcohol drinking might be beneficial for your health.
Reduces Risk of Heart Attack:
Moderate drinking reduces blood pressure, clears fat from the arteries and reduces the tendency of blood to clot. These, in turn, reduce the chances of a heart attack or heart disease.
According to a study published by The British Medical Journal,
“Frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption are important in assessing the risk of a major coronary event. Risk is lowest among men who report one to four drinks daily on five or six days a week and among women who report one or two drinks daily on five or six days a week.”
On the contrary, excess consumption reverses this effect and ups the chances of heart problems.
Learn More: Grzane Piwo (Polish Hot Beer)
Diminishes Risk of Ischemic Stroke:
“Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk of IS in a multiethnic population. This effect is independent of other risk factors and holds for nonatherosclerotic stroke subtypes.”
Negatives of Moderate Alcohol Drinking
There are other positives of moderate alcohol drinking as well, but those are a couple of the notable ones. Here are a couple of cons of moderate drinking.
Increases Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke:
In hemorrhagic stroke the blood seeps out of the blood vessel of the brain causing this stroke. Since alcohol acts as a blood thinner, it increases the chances of hemorrhagic stroke.
As stated by a study published by The American Journal of Medicine,
“The results suggest that low levels of alcohol consumption may have some protective effect upon the cerebral vasculature, whereas heavy consumption predisposes to both hemorrhagic and non-hemorrhagic stroke.”
Interferes with Medications:
Alcohol can dangerously interfere with medications. According to a study published in Diagnosis and Treatment,
“Alcohol interacts with a surprising number of commonly used drugs: antibiotics, anticoagulants, antihistamines, digitalis, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, nitroglycerine, diuretics, heavy metals, insulin, iron, puromycin C, and many others. It also interacts specifically with sedatives, opiates, phenothiazines, antidepressants, and other psychoactive drugs.”
Since, both alcohol and medicine compounds are processed by the liver, alcohol receives first preference. This slows down the efficient breaking down of medications.
If the drinking is stopped for some time, the liver, freed of processing alcohol, breaks down medications rather too quickly that can be risky, especially for those taking the medicine for seizure.
Drinking and Driving:
Since alcohol affects people differently, even if a moderately drunk person is within the legal limit of 0.08 percent (80mg/dL) while driving, he or she may get impaired due to alcohol and end up in a crash.
As stated by a study published in Drug and Alcohol Review,
“Statistically significant and meaningful decrements in driving‐related performance were identified at 0.05% BAC or below in many studies.”
Although driving under influence is a serious offence that can get one into serious trouble under the DWI laws, moderate drinkers also should not take a chance.
Alcohol and Weight Gain or Weight Loss
As many people already know, drinking too much alcohol can result in weight gain (especially in heavy drinkers). Along with that, drinking too much alcohol also increases the risk of ending up with life-threatening diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Most types of alcoholic beverages will cause weight gain, although some (for example red wine which contains resveratrol) do contain beneficial aspects as well.
Alcohol slows down your metabolism, and alters the breakdown of sugar in the body.
As stated by a study published in Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences,
“The experimental metabolic evidence suggests that the consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol has to be accounted for in the energy-balance equation and may represent a risk factor for the development of a positive energy balance and thus weight gain.”
If you are working on your body and improving your health, the best rule is only to drink alcohol in moderation or stop drinking completely.
Here are a few additional ways alcohol can interfere with your weight loss program!
Alcohol Contains a Lot of Calories
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main factors responsible for obesity worldwide. Alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories, which wouldn’t be a problem except that these are “empty calories” which offer no nutritional benefit.
Alcohol has a very simple nutritional structure, and the body system instantly absorbs it as fat instead of converting it into energy.
The calories in alcohol are useless for your body, which is why drinking alcohol causes weight gain quickly.
Learn More: Tips to Lose a Beer Belly
Consuming too Much Alcohol Reduces Your Testosterone Levels
Although alcohol-related weight gain affects all age groups, it is more prevalent in men than women. Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that helps to burn fat and calories faster, and it is naturally produced in higher amounts in men.
Due to this, men are heavily affected by the testosterone-reducing effects of consuming too much alcohol.
An individual with low testosterone levels won’t be able to gain lean muscle mass and burn calories easily, regardless if they are a man or woman. Overall, this drop in testosterone will lead to a reduced rate of metabolism and weight gain.
Heavy-Drinking Stimulates the Appetite
Even though you consume enormous amounts of calories when you drink alcohol, heavy drinkers tend to get hungrier than moderate or non-drinkers when they consume alcohol. The reason for this is that certain hormones (such as leptin which helps to manage appetite) will be drastically reduced after consuming too many alcoholic beverages.
Along with that, it is also common for heavy drinkers to make poor diet choices while they are “drunk” such as eating junk or processed foods.
In fact, they will likely opt for larger portions that are laden with salt and unhealthy fat, and they will consume fewer fruits and vegetables.
These dietary choices are one of the main reasons that alcohol increases weight gain.
Heavy Alcohol Consumption Harms Your Vital Organs
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining and interferes with a drinkers metabolism. Over time, drinking too many alcoholic beverages can lead to a very slow digestion process and the slowing of many internal organs.
Alcohol affects the proper functioning of organs like the liver and kidney, and it will systematically wear your body down as well. The liver helps to disintegrate fats and eliminates toxins from the body, so losing function of the liver is a huge issue in the human body.
Conclusion – Pros and Cons of Moderate Alcohol Drinking
Moderate drinking has its pluses and minuses. Always be cautious when drinking alcohol, and do your best to limit it as much as possible!