Holiday spirits ... the ups and downs of social drinking

Holiday spirits ... the ups and downs of social drinking

People who indulge in a glass of wine on a daily basis might live longer than those who drink too much or who don't drink at all. Light drinkers, or those who drink one drink per day--5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of eighty proof, or a 12 ounce beer, have a slightly lower risk of stroke that those who abstain. On the other hand, heavy drinkers (three or more drinks per day) have a two and half times greater risk of suffering from a stroke than nondrinkers. Before stocking up on holiday spirits this season, be forewarned, your liver loathes more than two drinks per day.

Holiday spirits ... the ups and downs of social drinking

The down side ...

Alcohol weighs in at seven calories per gram. Your body metabolizes it as if it were sugar and a fat combined. You might use some of the calories for energy but would be more likely to store them as fat. Alcoholic beverages usually do not contain a significant amount of nutrients needed for optimal health. As a matter of fact, alcohol might even deplete your body of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12--all valuable nutrients for the health of your nervous system.

Some studies have found an increased risk of stroke in people who have more than two drinks a day.

If you drink you have a lower overall risk of dying of cancer, but you are more likely to die of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus. If you are a heavy beer drinker--you may double your risk of rectal cancer.

In the Harvard University Nurses Health Study of 87,000 women, it was discovered that women who have one drink per day have an increased risk of breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute found a 20 percent greater risk of breast cancer in women if they had one to four drinks a day. Their risk went up by 89 percent at five drinks daily.

The up side ...

When we lift our wine glasses and toast to a long and healthy life, we may also be holding in our hands the beverage to make that happen. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and are naturally produced in great amounts as a defense against fungi. Resveratrol is twenty to fifty times as effective of an antioxidant as vitamin C alone, and even acts to enhance the effects of vitamin C. Resveratrol has an anti-clotting effect that prevents the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels. Plus, it may have anti-cancer effects as well. Resveratrol may extend the lifespan by activating the enzyme SIR2 which is thought to be a DNA stabilizer.

Studies have shown that people who have one drink per day have a heart disease risk of 21 percent lower than non-drinkers.

Those who imbibe are 22 percent less likely to die of a stroke--two drinks per day being the limit--the stroke risk increases if you go beyond.

According to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California, people who had one to two drinks per day had a lower risk of coronary artery disease than nondrinkers.

The American Cancer Society found, in a 12-year study involving a million Americans in twenty-five states, that moderate alcohol intake has an "apparent positive effect on coronary heart disease."

Moderate drinkers have higher levels of the protective cholesterol HDL.

Researchers have also found that alcohol eases the impact of stress on your body.

Finally, if you have one drink per day, you will be less likely to have a heart attack or stroke by blood clotting, because alcohol in the blood makes the platelets less sticky.

So, this holiday season, should you or shouldn't you take part in the egg nog? For starters, if you have a family history of alcoholism or other substance abuse problems, then say no. If you are pregnant, say no. Studies indicate that women who drink during pregnancy may have lower birth weight babies and worse if the alcohol consumption is excessive.

Evaluate your lifestyle. If you use alcohol in a healthy manner, don't worry about it. As always ... moderation is key!

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