Alcohol health is a topical issue laden with lots of controversies among medical professionals globally. This is due to the narrow margin between the detrimental and advantageous alcohol effects in the body.
In view of alcohol-related medical disorders, the question is – can alcohol benefit your health? Would you like to know the beneficial effects of alcohol? This article will highlight the specific health gains of alcohol and the recommended safe limits of alcohol consumption.
What are the alcohol health benefits?
Adherence to moderate alcohol drinking promotes these positive health effects of alcohol while binge/heavy drinking increases your risk of alcohol-related diseases, liver cirrhosis, strokes, and heart attack.
1. Reduced risk of heart disease
Mild-moderate alcohol drinking reduces the risk of heart diseases by increasing the concentration of good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing the amount of the blood clotting factor called fibrinogen. The reduced susceptibility to blood clot formation keeps the heart blood vessels open sufficiently to supply the heart with oxygen and other vital nutrients.
2. Stabilization of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus
It has been proven scientifically that alcohol ingestion with meals stabilizes blood glucose. A study revealed that blood glucose concentration was reduced by 15-30% after drinking alcohol with food. To explain further, alcohol reduces insulin resistance in the tissues, and this results in increased cellular uptake of glucose. In type 2 diabetes mellitus, elevated blood glucose is caused by insulin resistance, which is improved only by moderate alcohol drinking.
Of note, binge alcohol drinking can worsen long term control of blood glucose; thus, strict discipline and medical guidance are needed as will be explained subsequently.
3. Reduction of kidney stone formation
Alcohol has a diuretic effect-increases frequency of urination; thus, this increases the possibility of expelling tiny crystals which can aggregate to form stones in the urinary tract.
How to reduce the health risks of alcohol?
1. Get a health professional counsel
Although moderate alcohol drinking is beneficial, it is not recommended for individuals with a strong family history of alcoholism and medical disorders affecting critical organs like the liver, kidney, pancreas, and heart. Therefore, clinical examination and proper screening by your medical doctor is crucial in excluding these contraindications.
2. Drink alcohol within the recommended safe limits
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends ONE standard per day for women and TWO for men.
One standard drink measurement for each alcoholic drink is as follows:
5 ounces – Wine
12 ounces – Beer
1.5 ounce – Liquor
Heavy drinking occurs when alcohol intake is above these stipulated volumes, and this increases your risk of developing alcohol-related diseases.
Which type of alcohol has health benefits?
Alcoholic red wine is recommended because it contains anti-oxidants that reduce the degree of cellular oxidative damage caused by toxic free radicals released in the body.
In conclusion, extreme caution should be taken when drinking alcohol because of its adverse effects.
Alcohol health benefits can be obtained from moderate alcohol drinking.
By Dr. Christopher Ugo Oseh
Email address: [email protected]