Helping News                                                  July, 2014   Issue 73

What is Moderate Drinking, & are there benefits?

There is agreement in the scientific community about what defines "moderate drinking." It's no more than 3-4 standard drinks per drinking episode, no more than 9 drinks per week for women and 12-14 for men. Also, moderate drinking means limiting how fast you drink and, as a result, keeping your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below .055 (.08 is the DWI limit in all states in the U.S.).

A standard drink is equal to

a 12 oz (355 ml.) beer with 5% alcohol (average for most U.S. beers).
A 5 oz. (150 ml.) glass of wine (12.5% alcohol).
1.5 oz. (45 ml.) of 80 proof liquor (40% alcohol).

This program will ask you to set limits on both your number of drinks per episode and your BACs. It will also show you how to calculate your BACs and it will calculate your BACs when you enter your drinking card information into the program..

This definition of moderate drinking prevents you from getting drunk. Moderate drinkers don't drink to get drunk. Now if your idea of moderate drinking is a 6 pack instead of a 12 pack, this would suggest that you drink with some pretty heavy drinkers. Drinking a 6 pack of beer is heavy drinking. Some heavy drinkers who've experienced problems from their drinking can learn how to moderate their drinking. They can maintain moderate drinking for years at a time. Others cannot. So who's more likely to be successful at moderation? Drinkers with a shorter history of problems and less severe problems tend to be more successful with cutting back and maintaining it. Drinkers who believe that alcoholism is a bad habit rather than a disease tend to do better with moderation.

Most importantly, you must first decide whether you want to stop having alcohol-related problems. If you're not sure, consider our other web site, the "Drinker's Check-up." There you can take a good look at your drinking and get objective feedback. Then you can decide whether or not to change.

Benefits of Moderate Drinking Result from Alcohol Itself (by David J. Hanson, Ph.D. 2014)

Some writers have been arguing that wine drinkers tend to be healthier than others because they generally have better health habits, not because they consume alcohol.

It’s true that wine drinkers tend to have better health habits than many others do. However, that can’t explain away the established medical fact that the moderate consumption of beer, wine or distilled spirits improves health and longevity. Both beer and liquor tend to confer the same health benefits as red wine; the benefit is found in the alcohol rather than in a specific beverage.

Alcohol reduces heart attacks, ichemic strokes and circulatory problems through a number of identified ways. They include:

Improving blood lipid profile by increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Decreasing thrombosis (blood clotting) by reducing platelet aggregation, reducing fibrinogen (a blood clotter) and increasing fibrinolysis (the process by which clots dissolve).
Other ways such as increasing coronary blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and reducing blood insulin level.
The moderate consumption of alcohol appears to be more effective than most other lifestyle changes that are used to lower the risk of heart and other diseases. For example, the average person would need to follow a very strict low-fat diet, exercise vigorously on a regular basis, eliminate salt from the diet, lose a substantial amount of weight, and probably begin medication in order to lower cholesterol by 30 points or blood pressure by 20 points.

But medical research suggests that alcohol can have a greater impact on heart disease than even these hard-won reductions in cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Only cessation of smoking is more effective. Additionally, other medical research suggests that adding alcohol to a healthful diet is more effective than just following the diet alone.

After reviewing the research on heart diseases and stroke, Dr. David Whitten reported that "we don't have any drugs that are as good as alcohol” and noted investigator Dr. Curtis Ellison asserted that "abstinence from alcohol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease."

The moderate consumption of alcohol appears to be beneficial in reducing or preventing even more diseases and health problems including angina pectoris bone fractures and osteoporosis, diabetes, digestive ailments, duodenal ulcer, erectile dysfunction (ED), essential tremors, gallstones, hearing loss, hepatitis A, kidney stones, liver disease, macular degeneration (a major cause of blindness), pancreatic cancer, Parkinson’s disease, poor cognition and memory, poor physical condition in elderly, rheumatoid arthritis, stress and depression, and type B gastritis.

It’s not surprising that the science-based Harvard Healthy Eating Pyramid recommends the regular moderate consumption of alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) unless contraindicated.

It’s clear that the moderate consumption of alcohol improves health and increases longevity.

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