I want to be healthy: do I need to give up drinking alcohol?
In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, you may wonder if it's okay to drink alcohol. Considering there are benefits and risks involved with drinking, the conclusion will be unique to you.
Pleasure! Many of us pour a drink after a long work day, treat ourselves to something special while on vacation, or raise a glass in salute. Whether it’s taste, laughs or elicited dancing, alcoholic beverages can bring forth fun and happiness: positive contributions to a life well-lived. And that's okay!
Cardiovascular Health. Alcohol and antioxidants found in red wine (i.e. resveratrol) have shown to increase HDL-cholesterol, decrease oxidation of LDL-cholesterol – thus reduce the risk for atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction – and even decrease blood pressure.
Improved Glucose Metabolism. Light to moderate consumption of polyphenol-rich alcoholic beverages such as red wine and beer have shown improvements in insulin sensitivity with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Note, these results were associated with light to moderate alcohol consumption.
Definition of moderate alcohol consumption:
Women- 1 drink or less per day
Men- 2 drinks or less per day
While we have scientific evidence demonstrating some positive effects with light to moderate alcohol consumption, you’re likely familiar with the negative impacts that can come with heavy alcohol use:
Anxiety and depression
Decreased bone density
Disconnection from loved ones
Fatal driving accidents
Heart disease and stroke
Liver disease, including cirrhosis and cancer
Poor sleep quality
Altogether, heavy alcohol use can threaten our quality of life and shorten lifespan.
Reflect honestly on alcohol’s place in your personal life.
Do you use it as a coping tool for stress?
Does it leave a path of destruction behind you?
Do you ever notice not feeling well any time after drinking, and no longer wish to endure these effects – for instance, lightheadedness, brain fog, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; even emotional discomforts such as anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, irritability, sadness, or apathy?
Do you feel unhappy with or disconnected from your loved ones?
Answering yes to any of these questions could indicate it’s time to reduce or discontinue your consumption of alcohol (even if it's just temporary). Despite some of the health benefits associated with, and social acceptability of alcohol, life still goes on without it!
There are many people who live healthy and happy lives without alcohol.
Health isn't dependent on one element alone. There are many foods and factors that contribute to fabulous health and wellness. A healthy lifestyle is the one you define, love, and live by. So yes, it's okay to drink alcohol if you're of legal drinking age, you like it, and are able to enjoy responsibly. But if you believe your drinking habits are causing harm in any way to your total wellbeing as well as the ones you love, remember that support is here and all around you. Please consider getting help today.
It’s okay to be healthy and feel happy.
The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website. If you're interested in making dietary changes, guidance from a nutrition expert is highly advised. Please review our Nutrition & Wellness Services.
Nutrition & Wellness Services:
Castaldo, L., Narváez, A., Izzo, L., Graziani, G., Gaspari, A., Minno, G. D., & Ritieni, A. (2019). Red Wine Consumption and Cardiovascular Health. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(19), 3626. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24193626
Cometto, A. (2020, Feb. 10). Does Alcohol Fit Into a Healthy Lifestyle? Fabulous Nutrition. https://www.fabulous-nutrition.com/post/does-alcohol-fit-into-a-healthy-lifestyle
Liberale, L., Bonaventura, A., Montecucco, F., Dallegri, F., & Carbone, F. (2019). Impact of Red Wine Consumption on Cardiovascular Health. Current medicinal chemistry, 26(19), 3542–3566. https://doi.org/10.2174/0929867324666170518100606
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2022, March). Alcohol Facts and Statistics. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
Romeo, J., Wärnberg, J., Nova, E., Díaz, L. E., Gómez-Martinez, S., & Marcos, A. (2007). Moderate alcohol consumption and the immune system: a review. The British journal of nutrition, 98 Suppl 1, S111–S115. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114507838049
van de Wiel A. (2004). Diabetes mellitus and alcohol. Diabetes/metabolism research and reviews, 20(4), 263–267. https://doi.org/10.1002/dmrr.492