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Alcohol has long been a traditional part of American society for countless numbers of years. Stone Age artifacts attest to the fact that beer existed as early as 10,000 BC, and may have even preceded bread as a dietary staple.

Pros of Drinking Alcohol

Early Protestant leaders such as John Calvin and Martin Luther believed alcohol was a gift from God and should be used in moderate amounts for enjoyment, pleasure and health.  However, religious leaders and churches frowned upon a person becoming drunk, because it was viewed as a sin.

Wine has long been touted to be good for the heart, respiratory system, weight maintenance, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.  In a research study of 50,000 females that consumed one glass of wine per day, experts found that women who consumed wine gained less weight than women that abstained.  The epidemiology department of Harvard School of Public Health believes that certain types of alcohol might actually help burn calories; another added benefit is that alcohol has not fat content and less calories than other popular beverages.

There are also benefits for women and men who consume moderate amounts of alcohol which can include the following:

  • Lowers the risk of developing stomach ulcers, because alcohol may destroy Helicobacter pylori infection which causes ulcers.
  • Reduces the risk of a female developing heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication (leg pains).
  • Alcohol raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels which prevents plaques from forming and causing blood clots.
  • Possible bone protection.  Silicon, which is found in beer, is associated with an improvement of bone density in males and females.
  • Lowers the risk of gallstones.
  • Reduces the risk of age-related cognitive decline and can reduce plaque build-ups which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing Type II diabetes.
  • Lowers the risk of stroke.
  • Reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack.

There are other benefits which can be had from moderate alcohol consumption, which can include an increase in digestion if consumed after a meal.  Alcohol breaks down the foods eaten and makes it easier for the material to move through the gastrointestinal tract and into the lower sigmoid colon.  Alcohol can also help a person experience relaxation when consumed in a moderate amount, if more than one or two drinks are consumed the effect is reversed and the individual can become irritable, easily provoked and agitated. 

It is important to know what the definition of a drink truly is in order to better understand what “moderate” drinking entails.  A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of 80-100 proof distilled spirits (whiskey, gin, rum, etc.).  Medical experts agree that when it comes to alcohol a little is more than enough and moderate use is the key to experiencing the benefits mentioned.

Cons of Drinking Alcohol

Heavy drinking can lead a person to experience a wide variety of health complications which can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Certain types of cancers such as oral, pharynx, gastrointestinal, esophageal and liver cancers in both genders.  As well as an increase in the risk of breast cancer in women.  Alcohol stimulates an increase of estrogen and progesterone which fuels hormone driven tumors.
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Miscarriage
  • Injuries due to alcohol
  • Elevated blood levels of triglycerides in the blood

Other obvious cons that can come from heavy alcohol consumption include alcohol poisoning and chronic alcoholism.  Alcoholism can cause serious problems for a person, which can include liver damage which results in deterioration or fibrosis.  Some liver cells can regenerate with proper nutrition and if a person abstains from drinking alcohol, but when damage is severe the only thing that might save a person is a transplant.

For some people that consume alcohol in moderation, the appetite is not suppressed and could actually increase.  Chronic alcoholism has the opposite effect and can cause euphoria which decreases the appetite and a heavy drinker might have a poor diet, which results in malnutrition.  Alcohol is rich in energy, but the source comes from sugar and the calories are not nutrient dense.  The more calories a person consumes from alcohol, the less likely it will be that the individual will eat healthy foods.  Chronic alcoholism causes serious damage to every single organ system in the human body and can be irreversible.

Health complications which result from chronic alcohol use include:

  • Arthritis
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nervous disorders
  • Obesity
  • Psychological disturbances

Moderate use of alcohol appears to be fine for most people and causes feelings of enjoyment and relaxation.  However, it is when alcohol consumption becomes heavy and alcoholism results that a variety of serious problems occur which can be irreversible or fatal.  A person should always use proper judgment when trying to control alcohol consumption and space drinks out no more than one drink per hour and consume water in between alcoholic beverages.

Overview

Moderate drinking can play a key role in helping prevent or be a determining factor into whether or not someone develops a disease.  There are ways a person can enjoy imbibing once in awhile and have no long-term effects, when the amount is limited and the individual is responsible.  Other factors which predetermine how someone’s body will handle alcohol will include the type of lifestyle the person leads, physical health, dietary practices, whether or not the person smokes and if the person is active or not.

Moderate alcohol consumption is only one component of a person observing a healthy lifestyle.  The choice of whether or not to drink is up to the individual and a person should always remember to observe drinking alcohol in moderate amounts only.  When viewing all the pros and cons concerning drinking alcohol, a person can determine whether or not consuming alcohol is going to be beneficial.

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_alcoholic_beverages
  • www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/12/04/healthmag.alcohol/index.html
  • www.brighamandwomens.org/healtheweightforwomen/special_topics/intelihealth1205.aspx?subID=submenu10
  • www.helium.com/items/603290-alcohol-drinking-the-pros-and-cons
  • www.healthchecksystems.com/alcohol.htm