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I like to drink, but I’m worried about how awful drinking is for my health. How bad is it?

April 3, 2012

Is Drinking Alcohol Good or Bad For Your Health?

This is a tricky one to answer, because current research supports both sides of the debate. Some argue alcohol can prevent heart disease, while others argue it can increase your risk of cancer. The key seems to be drinking in moderation. Unfortunately, college can often be an environment of heavy binge drinking. Below are some reasons you might want to consider putting down the shot and taking a water break instead.

A British study recently discovered that excessive drinking has been linked to breast cancer. Regular binge-drinking pushes risk of the disease up by 40 percent (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-106324/Binge-drinking-increases-breast-cancer-risk.html). However, researchers at the German Research Center found that xanthohumol, an antioxidant included in the herb that gives beer its flavor, can actually contribute to the prevention of breast cancer. To address this claim, Dr. Mercola (mercola.com) argues, “you’ll have to drink more than a dozen beers to get enough xanthohumol to experience any potential health benefits.” Drinking this much will of course do more harm than good.

Dr. Mercola also says, “alcohol contained in wine, beer and liquor is a neurotoxin that can poison your brain. And, the presence of alcohol can seriously harm your hormonal balance too.” Consuming alcohol inhibits a person’s reaction to stress by reducing corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a key stress hormone. The impairment of CRF leads to the impairment of one’s immune system, which can ultimately result in an increased risk of cancer.

If these are not reasons enough, consider the impact alcohol has on muscle development. If you spend time working out at the gym or competing as an athlete, this study could make you reconsider your drinking habits. A study titled Acute alcohol consumption aggravates the decline of muscle performance following strenuous eccentric exercise, had healthy males participate in strength training and then consume either alcohol or orange juice post work out. Those who consumed alcohol post-workout had a negative impact on muscle strength by as much as 40 percent.

If you still decide you would like to drink, Alex Swanson offers the best way to avoid a hangover: “Stick with Vodka or Tequila (both with lime) and make sure to drink water in between drinks.” If you end up with a hangover anyway, drink some coconut water to hydrate, Kombucha to assist detoxification and use a B-complex to restore diminished B-vitamins.

The key is to enjoy yourself while remaining safe. Remember, think moderation.

-Erin

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