Is Moderate Drinking Good For You – Part 2

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How alcohol might protect the heart

There are several plausible biological mechanisms by which modest alcohol consumption might lower coronary heart disease risks. In the short term, alcohol can reduce the formation of blood clots that block arterial bloodflow (leading to heart attacks) by diminishing blood platelet aggregation and altering the action of fibrinogen (an enzyme necessary for clotting). The immediate action of alcohol is antithrombitic — decreasing the blood’s clotting power in much the same way that ASA (Aspirin) protects against heart attacks. In the long run, modest alcohol intake gradually curtails the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque on artery walls and helps raise levels of high-density lipoproteins — HDL or “good” cholesterol — which removes cholesterol from the bloodstream and eliminates it via the liver. Alcohol may also help preserve the vitamin E and other antioxidants in cell membranes.

Narrow “window of benefit” for alcohol drinkers

The influence of alcohol in reducing heart attacks occurs only within a narrow range or small “window” of modest consumption. Cardiac protection from alcohol only occurs with low-level drinking — at intakes of two or fewer drinks per day (and not every day) and only in people over age 35-40.

Women’s are much more sensitive to alcohol

Although fewer women than men are heavy drinkers, women are more susceptible to damage from alcohol at lower levels. At a given dose per body weight, women suffer more harmful effects than men, except, of course, for the knowns benefits of a glass of beer a day during pregnancy – but only for “some” women, not for all women “across the board”. Pregnant women advised to refrain from drinking

Except as noted previously, and then only on the advice of your doctor, women who drink alcohol while pregnant, especially more than one drink a day, can harm the developing fetus. Pregnant women are advised to abstain from alcohol (except as previously noted) because of the risk of birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Even though some medical professionals recommend moderate drinking for some few patients, health authorities in general do not encourage drinking in any amount.

Beware the slippery slope of addiction

Addiciton – the status of having become alcohol-dependent. Some people who start with one or two glasses a day, gradually increase this amount until they are consuming many drinks a day with all the attendant consequences. Some reach a “point of no return” where they find it impossible to cut back or do without their (several) daily drinks. There is a real risk factor involved in consumption of alcohol and that is “Addiction” – becoming an alcoholic!

Here’s a few simple guidelines to follow:

Less is usually better.
Some people should never drink.
If you do drink never, never, never mix alcohol and medications of any kind.
Red wine is not necessarily best.
Moderate or low-risk drinking is:
* For men: no more than two drinks a day, but not every day
* For women: one to two drinks a day, but not every day

These are some of the possible adverse effects of drinking alcohol over a long period of time:

* Diminished coordination, cognitive impairment;
* Injury or death from falls, motor crashes, fire, water mishaps;
* Drownings, suicide;
* Assault, violence, firearm use;
* Choking deaths (asphyxiation);
* Elevated blood pressure;
* Stroke;
* Cardiac myopathy and heartbeat irregularities (arrhythmias) with possible heart failure;
* Possible “rebound coagulability” with increased blood clotting;
* Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation);
* Alcoholic gastritis (stomach irritability, bleeds);
* Liver cirrhosis;
* Dependency (addiction);
* Abusive behaviour, emotional problems;
* Alcohol-related psychosis, breakdown of family, work and social relationships.

Advice on low-risk drinking:

* Drink no more than two standard drinks in any day.
* Abstainers should not begin drinking to protect the heart.
* Do not step up consumption to lower health risks.
* Anyone who drinks more than two drinks in any one day should reduce consumption.
* To minimize risks of dependence, have at least one alcohol-free day per week.
* All persons who consume alcohol should avoid drinking to intoxication.
* The following should drink no alcohol:
— people with certain psychological and physical illnesses;
— those taking certain medications such as antihistamines, psychoactive drugs and sleep-aids
— people driving vehicles or operating machinery;
— those responsible for public order or safety;
— people unable to control their drinking;
— those legally prohibited from drinking, such as under-age persons.

And so we come to my conclusions: Yes, moderate drinking can be very beneficial to a person. However, the side of this coin to be carefully watched is: what is moderate for one person is not enough for another person and excessive for yet another. What is “just right” for the 200-220 lb man is excessive for the 145 lb man and not quite enough for the 300 lb man.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!
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