Tonight, you may be planning on ringing in the New Year with a cup of cheer, as am I. And why not? We all made it through another challenging year. Which is reason enough to celebrate.
Of course, the “neo-prohibitionists,” as I call them, may have something to say about our celebrations. They’re trying to ban any and all alcohol consumption for everyone, everywhere. And one claim they make is that no amount of alcohol is safe for your health.
But that’s simply not true…
Five amazing health benefits for moderate drinking
As I regularly report, moderate drinking is very good for your health. In fact, the science shows it has five impressive health benefits…
1.) Supports heart health
I put heart health at the top of the list because countless studies over many decades have shown that moderate alcohol consumption reduces your risk of developing heart disease. In my view, this benefit most likely occurs because moderate drinking helps to lower your stress—the No. 1 hidden cause of heart disease!
In fact, in one recent, notable analysis—published last August in BMC Medicine—researchers from University College in London looked at six previously published clinical trials involving more than 35,000 adults in the U.K. and France. Over a 10-year period, about 5 percent of participants developed heart disease and 1 percent died from it.
But it turns out, the participants who consistently drank moderate amounts of alcohol had a lower risk of developing heart disease compared to those who didn’t. This association was especially strong for people over the age of 55.
Further, the study showed that consistent, moderate alcohol consumption was more protective for the heart when compared to ex- or non-drinkers.
2.) Supports GI tract health
This benefit may come as a bit of surprise to you. But it’s one that can’t be overlooked! In fact, as I recently reported, your microbiome—the environment in your gastrointestinal (GI) where billions of health bacteria thrive—is really ground zero for your health.
And drinking red wine is one of the very best things you can do to naturally support your microbiome. In fact, a recent study found that people who drink red wine have more healthy bacteria and fewer harmful bacteria than non-red wine drinkers. They also had lower rates of obesity, lower triglycerides (blood fats), and fewer stomach ulcers.
Plus, in another study, red wine “inactivated” harmful E. coli and salmonella bacteria within 60 minutes.
Both of these findings help explain why wine has historically been enjoyed with meals. Not only does it aid digestion, but it also protects against harmful, food-borne bacteria trying to invade your gut.
3.) Supports oral health
New studies suggest that drinking wine also benefits your oral health by killing harmful bacteria that can lead to sore throats, gum disease, and tooth decay. Of course, any type of alcohol acts as a natural antiseptic. But we now know that other organic compounds found in wine specifically, including naturally occurring polyphenols and acids, also help to combat the oral bacteria. (These acids are also found in full-fat dairy and organic apples.)
4.) Supports brain health
Alcohol gets a really bad rap when it comes to brain health. In fact, how many times have we heard that booze kills brain cells?
Well, it turns out that’s all a bunch of propaganda, too.
Sure, you might forget where you put your keys, or who took them, if you have too many drinks. But studies show that moderate drinking over the long-term may actually help improve your memory in later life.
Not to mention, it reduces the risk of dementia. In fact, one recent study found that moderate drinkers are “significantly” more likely than teetotalers to live to the age 85 without developing dementia!
You can learn more about how alcohol supports brain health in the August 2016 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Another reason to toast: Moderate drinking lowers your risk of dying from Alzheimer’s). Not yet a subscriber? Sign up today!
5.) Supports mental health
When you hear the phrase “have a cup of cheer” this holiday season, it’s more than just a figure of speech. In fact, a new study has found that alcohol produces the same neurological effects as quick-acting antidepressant drugs. And, according to the researchers, moderate alcohol consumption seems to actually cause synaptic changes in the brain, which produce “long-lasting antidepressant-like behavioral effects.”
In an earlier study, researchers found that a moderate amount of alcohol—that is, one to three glasses—goes to work right away to lift a depressed person’s mood. And this boost in mood can last for at least 24 hours.
This finding makes a lot of sense, as we know alcohol follows the same biochemical pathways in lab animals as ketamine, an antidepressant that has been shown to relieve depressive symptoms within hours.
Of course, as I reported yesterday, there are plenty of ways to elevate your spirits without booze, too.
Now, before I go, let me share just a quick word of caution…
Remember—moderation in all things
As a former medical examiner, I’m all too aware of how often true excess alcohol consumption is a fatal hazard on the roads and how it poses a real problem for some people.
However, I think up to two drinks an hour is a good definition of “moderate” alcohol consumption for most people. If you indulge further, you could be in danger of emotionality, poor judgement, confusion, stupor, and even coma and death. And that’s the very definition of unhealthy spirits!
In addition, statistics show about 8 percent of drinkers develop dependency problems. So, I recommend taking a quick survey to ask yourself some direct questions to help determine if you have a drinking problem.
Lastly, I’d like to share a few quick reminders from my friend and colleague Dr. George Lundberg, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, that we should all remember during the holidays and year-round:
- If you drink, don’t drive. Designate a driver beforehand.
- If you drink, don’t walk either, at least not around motor vehicles. Dead pedestrians often have high blood alcohol levels.
- Mixing alcohol and firearms is especially dangerous.
Have a happy and safe New Year. I’ll see you in 2020!
P.S. Tune back in on Thursday for a very important report about another amazing, even life-changing benefit of alcohol consumption…
“Association of longitudinal alcohol consumption trajectories with coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of six cohort studies using individual participant data.” BMC Medicine, 201816:124. doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1123-6
“Antimicrobial Effects of Wine on Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium in a Model Stomach System.” Journal of Food Science, 2006. 68(1):285 – 290. doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2003.tb14154.x
“Inhibition of Oral Pathogens Adhesion to Human Gingival Fibroblasts by Wine Polyphenols Alone and in Combination with an Oral Probiotic.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2018, 66, 9, 2071-2082. doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b05466
“Alcohol Intake and Cognitively Healthy Longevity in Community-Dwelling Adults: The Rancho Bernardo Study.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2017; 59(3) 803-814. doi.org/10.3233/JAD-161153