It is the season for festivities, where every occasion is a reason to imbibe alcohol and drink yourself merry. But how much is too much, or do its beneficial properties outweigh its negative qualities? The effects of alcohol, which has been known to mankind as early as 10,000 BC, have been mentioned in our traditional system of medicine. Dr Rao tells you how to celebrate while keeping your health on the forefront.
Moderation is the key
Two standard measures of alcohol for men and one measure of alcohol for women have been proven to be beneficial. Large scale observational studies done in France in 1992 showed that people who consumed a glass of red wine were less likely to develop heart diseases in comparison to non-drinkers. This has subsequently been observed in other studies; however, it has never been replicated in a scientific randomised study. The key quality of red wine, flavonoid, is responsible for its positive influences and has been shown to reduce levels of fibrin (a protein that promotes clots) and CRP, a marker of inflammation that causes blockages in blood vessels. Whether the same benefit is rendered by other spirits is debatable. There is a lack of clear evidence though about alcohol preventing the occurrence of strokes. Other positive effects include a reduction in gallstones and possibly – though unlikely – decreasing the risk of developing diabetes.
One unit of alcohol is approximately equal to half a pint of beer or 355 ml, 148 ml of wine (a little more than half a standard wine glass) and 44 ml of spirits. The beneficial effects of alcohol are not seen with more than two units per day in men and one unit per day in women.
Alcohol has calories
A pint of beer has approximately 220 calories; a glass of wine has 115 to 160 calories and a measure of spirit has at least 50 calories. It’s a misconception that alcohol is calorie free. This plays an important role in diabetics to increase their blood sugar and their cholesterol levels.
Though the positive effects of alcohol have not been validated by strict scientific methodology, it is reasonable to conclude that in moderation, alcohol is safe for one’s health.