Drinking To Your Health – L’Chaim

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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With the Purim holiday fast approaching many people are starting to plan their Purim cocktails.  Purim is the day that tradition tells us we are supposed to drink so that we can’t tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman, good and evil.  Tradition did not have to go to work and get the kids out for school the next morning.  For the rest of us, who may take things a little easier on Purim but still would like a drink or two, there are some great scientific studies to justify drinking in moderation.

Here are a few peer-reviewed excuses to keep in your pocket, right next to your hip flask.

Anti Aging

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that the availability of ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages -- may play an important role in delaying the aging process.  Their study was based on C. elegans, a benign worm that is less than .04 of an inch long.  Apparently this tiny worm has a lot in common with us and so it may work for us too.

Heart Disease

The Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism wrote "Numerous well-designed studies have concluded that moderate drinking is associated with improved cardiovascular health."  A World Health Organization Technical Committee on Cardiovascular Disease asserted that the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced death from heart disease could no longer be doubted.

The Common Cold

There is research that has found moderate drinkers to be more resistant than abstainers to five strains of the common cold virus. Those who consumed two to three drinks daily had an 85% greater resistance. Those drinking one to two drinks daily had a 65% lower risk and those who drank less than daily had a 30% lower risk than abstainers.

It appears that moderate drinkers do tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers.

In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), and several major cancers.  (Read this article for more information.)

What Is Moderation?

A standard drink is:

    • A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
    • A 5-ounce glass of wine
    • A one and 1/2 ounce of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink)

    The alcohol content of all of the above is roughly equivalent and so are the health benefits.

    Moderation for men is up to two drinks and up to one for women per day.

    Let’s raise a glass to good health, moderate drinking and a Happy Purim!