Monday June 2 2014

Alcohol: To drink or not to drink?

There are various alcoholic brands on the

There are various alcoholic brands on the market but this does not mean you should partake of them. file photo  

By Hope Ayebare Nimurungi

Is it possible to drink alcohol and still be healthy? This question is common among health seeking individuals from all walks of life.
We have been told that drinking alcohol is bad for us, but then again that it offers some health benefits.

They say drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart. It sounds like a mixed message: Let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of alcohol consumption.

Assessing its benefits
Alcohol consumed in moderation can make you feel good. This is the reason most of us drink it! Stress is a huge factor – if a beer at the end of the day helps you relax and unwind, then I guess it’s all good. Yes, one beer will work just fine.

As every health-conscious drinker will tell you, red wine has some healthy antioxidants, which help your body fight against cancer causing oxidative reactions.

Alcohol as a blood thinner improves blood circulation. Moderate alcohol consumption appears to lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease; total and ischemic stroke, as well as result in an overall reduction in heart disease- related mortality. It has also been linked to higher bone density in postmenopausal women.

On the other hand, alcohol is almost completely without any nutrients – its calories are many but empty.

It interferes with normal energy metabolism.
Alcohol stimulates insulin production when consumed. Just like with any high carbohydrate meals, this can lead to increased fat storage and consequently, obesity and related conditions.

It has a dehydrating effect on your body. Essentially, it makes you urinate out way more fluid than you’re taking in.
Alcohol impairs your body’s hormone regulation, which is a big factor when it comes to building muscle or losing weight.

It can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. When you drink 30-60 minutes before bedtime, you’re probably going to mess up your sleep schedule. It is also addictive.

The real issue I have found with drinking is the lack of rational decision making after too many beverages. Let’s not forget the risks involved in drinking and driving.

This is by no means a conclusive list of the benefits or dangers of alcohol consumption, it is just to help you make a comparison, and decide whether or not it’s worth it.

risk factors
In certain situations, the risks of alcohol use may outweigh the possible health benefits. These include:
•You’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
•You’ve been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or you have a family history of alcoholism.
•You have liver or pancreatic disease.
•You have heart failure or you’ve been told you have a weak heart.
•You take prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
•You’ve had a hemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures).