Alcohol: Where does it fit in your eating for health plan?
Published: February 26, 2016
For anyone who enjoys an alcoholic beverage it is always reassuring when research identifies a potential health benefit associated with alcohol consumption.
Over the years various research studies have linked moderate alcohol consumption with a decreased risk of heart disease, decreased risk of bone loss in post-menopausal women, and decreased risk of dementia in men and women.
However, not all studies report favourable findings associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages such as beer, ales, wine, and spirits. Women in particular appear to be at increased risk for adverse health effects associated with consuming alcohol. Even when intake is “moderate”.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is also controversial with most health recommendations advising zero alcohol during the months prior to becoming pregnant and during pregnancy. However, a few studies suggest that a small beer or glass of wine on special occasions is not harmful.
As well as having potential health benefits and health risks for you as an individual, alcohol consumption can negatively impact society. Excessive alcohol consumption can have devastating short and long term effects on the consumer, their family and friends, and on strangers.
Studies that report health benefits are not suggesting imbibing alcohol in excess: moderation is the key. But what does “in moderation” mean for your personal health and well-being?
How an individual metabolises alcohol is not precisely known as there are many variables which affect alcohol metabolism and each individual is unique. Furthermore, exactly how alcohol provides health benefits or creates health risks is not yet fully understood. What should you do?
This review provides a brief history of alcohol consumption, and outlines what alcohol provides by way of dietary nutrients, and proposed benefits and harms of consuming alcoholic beverages.
A brief history of alcohol consumption
Alcoholic beverages have held a place in the dietary practices of many cultures for thousands of years. Our Paleolithic ancestors may..link to the full article to learn more.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Marrone et al. (2012).Moderate alcohol intake lowers biochemical markers of bone turnover in postmenopausal women , Menopause, 19 (9), 974- 979
Fairweather-Tait et al. (2011). Diet and bone mineral density study in postmenopausal women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94, 1371-1375
Alzheimer's Association International Conference Vancouver 2012