20 Health Benefits of Drinking Intoxicating Beverages

You’ve probably been told that nothing good comes from drinking alcohol. All it does is damage your body and brain, right? Wrong. When you drink, and… Simi - October 9, 2018

You’ve probably been told that nothing good comes from drinking alcohol. All it does is damage your body and brain, right? Wrong. When you drink, and you get talking with a passionate teetotaler, all they want to tell you is about cirrhosis of the liver. They want to talk about the consequences of being caught driving under the influence.

People who drink too much are at risk of all the doom and gloom we read about in articles on the dangers of drinking. When you binge drink or display symptoms of alcohol dependency, you are going to damage your body. You’re likely to need to have your stomach pumped on more than one occasion to avoid alcohol poisoning. A stop on the side of the road for a sobriety test after erratic driving is in your future somewhere, with potentially serious ramifications. Visits to the doctor and even a rehab center may await you.

However, there is quite a lot to be said for moderate drinking. The generally accepted definition of moderate drinking is 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. This can’t be added together and averaged out on a weekly basis, however. Women can’t have seven drinks in one night because they haven’t had any alcohol for a week! That would lead to an episode you would either forget or want to forget, but one that will no doubt be etched in the memories of your companions forever.

One of the most important things when drinking in moderation is to know your limit and be able to stop before you reach it. Far too many people struggle with this. They don’t know when they’ve had enough, and they go overboard. Here are some of the health benefits moderate drinking may offer:

20. Moderate alcohol intake may help to keep your heart healthy

The heart is the most important organ in your body. When you have heart problems, other complications follow. There are a lot of treatments you can go for if you have heart problems, but not all of them may work. And some conditions may be incurable. The obvious thing to do is look after your heart.

Keeping your heart young and healthy has a lot to do with choices. These are lifestyle choices that include diet and exercise. Carrying extra weight due to bad eating habits puts a strain on your heart. Drinking to excess and smoking can cause heart disease.

The more strain you put on your heart, the harder it has to work. A heart can work harder to keep you alive but cannot do so indefinitely. Studies have shown that red wine and vodka drunk in moderation can help keep your heart healthy. The red wine boasts the most benefits, though.

A research study carried out on pigs showed that both substances resulted in cardiovascular benefits, but a pinot noir red wine was the winner. Red wine contains antioxidants which fight free radical cells and infections, anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of resveratrol. Resveratrol acts as an antioxidant and protects the body from conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

19. Moderate alcohol intake may reduce your risk of diabetes

Unhealthy lifestyle choices often bring about the onset of type 2 diabetes. One of these lifestyle choices may include the excessive intake of alcoholic beverages. Diabetes essentially boils down the body’s inability to process the sugars you ingest. If your body cannot break down the sugar, your blood glucose levels rise. This results in symptoms such as excessive thirst and the need to urinate more frequently.

Drinking alcoholic beverages that are high in sugar may exacerbate already high blood sugar levels. A study has indicated that consuming alcohol in moderation can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

A recent study published in Diabetologia compared participants who drank in moderate amounts to participants who abstained from alcohol. Those who drank moderately had a 27% and 32% reduction in the risk of developing diabetes in men and women, respectively. Scientists concluded that the moderate consumption of alcohol over 3 or 4 weekdays was linked to the lowest risk of diabetes.

Wine is considered the alcoholic beverage of choice to lower the risk of developing diabetes. It contains chemical compounds that help balance the blood sugar levels of the drinker. It is recommended that both males and females drink no more than 7 units of alcohol over the course of 3-4 days and include some days of abstinence.

18. Moderate alcohol intake may reduce your risk of a stroke

A stroke is a possibly fatal event during which blood flow to the brain is cut off. Faced with a cutoff of oxygen and glucose, brain cells die. A stroke may be caused by a clot that passes through the blood vessels in the brain. The clot may form in a blood vessel in a different part of the body and then make its way to the brain. This is called an ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or tears.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that moderate drinking may lower the risk of an ischemic stroke. Part of the study included people who had experienced a stroke. They were interviewed about their drinking habits and had to fill out a questionnaire.

The participants were placed into four categories based on their drinking habits: light drinking, moderate drinking, high drinking and heavy drinking. The results published in BMC Medicine indicated that light-to-average alcohol consumption tended to lower the risk of an ischemic stroke, but not a hemorrhagic stroke.

Some research indicates that moderate alcohol intake lowers fibrinogen, a protein in the body that produces blood clots.

17. Moderate alcohol intake may help men battling with impotence

Impotence is characterized by the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. For men, this feels like an attack on their masculinity. Too much alcohol may result in a “no-show” for men who want to have sex. However, moderate alcohol intake may well be the answer.

It can ease some of the anxiety a man might feel about himself. When a man has an episode of impotence, it can humiliate him so much that he feels worried about what will happen next time. The inability to perform can become psychological and anxiety-driven. An alcoholic drink may inhibit some of his anxiety.

Wine is again recommended as the beverage of choice. It is rich in antioxidants that stop harmful free radicals before they form in the body, or renders them harmless. When you consume too much alcohol, the liver can’t break down the waste. It remains in the blood and travels all over the body, including to the penis. This can potentially affect being able to get an erection.

A study done at the University of Western Australia concluded that men who drink wine in moderation are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction. In fact, they are 25-30% less likely to have this problem.

16. Moderate alcohol intake may boost a woman’s libido

A woman’s libido seems to be awoken by alcohol. A study conducted by scientists from Japan and Finland found that an intake of alcohol increases the level of testosterone in women’s bodies. They measured the testosterone levels of males and females who had consumed moderate amounts of alcohol.

What they found is that the testosterone levels in men remained unchanged, but increased in women. Testosterone is regarded as a ‘male’ hormone. But it must be present in the female body in low quantities.

Testosterone is considered to be the hormone that drives the libido. Since the level of testosterone in a woman is driven up by the intake of alcohol, her libido is stimulated. She will feel an increased level of sexual desire. A glass of wine has the additional benefit of being rich in antioxidants that stimulate the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the walls of the arteries and increases blood flow.

Increased blood flow to the genitals may stimulate a sense of sexual desire as well. A Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that women who had drunk two glasses of wine felt a heightened sexual desire compared to women who abstained.

15. Moderate alcohol intake may relieve some of the symptoms of menopause

Menopause is a time of change for women. Most notable is the dramatic decrease in the production of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen. When menopause sets in, a woman’s period becomes irregular before finally disappearing. There are other side effects of menopause which include disrupted sleep patterns, changes in appetite, irritability, headaches and hot flashes.

Disruptions to the hormone levels bring with them side effects on the body. Many women choose to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which supplements the hormone levels in their bodies.

It turns out that another thing a woman can do during menopause is have a glass of beer. It may sound like an unlikely source of help for your menopausal symptoms, but it can help. A study of the link between menopause and beer was conducted quite some time ago. It’s believed that the hops in beer help menopausal women because it contains plant-like compounds called phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens attach themselves to estrogen receptors in the body. This raises the levels of estrogen in the body, thereby creating a better balance and reducing some of the symptoms. Phytoestrogens are not as potent as the real thing, but the mild increase they may induce in the body can go a long way to ease hot flashes.

14. Moderate alcohol intake may boost your brain

We associate alcohol with an inability to think clearly. However, that only happens when you drink excessive amounts. Drunk in moderation, some alcoholic beverages may give your brain a boost.

A 2015 report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that beer contains a compound called xanthohumol. This compound protects the brain cells from damage.

The resveratrol in red wine is just as good for your brain as it is for your heart. A study published in Scientific Reports says low levels of alcohol in the bloodstream lower inflammation and clear away toxins. Low levels of alcohol seem to increase the functioning of the glymphatic system, which clears toxins from the body.

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may give your brain a bit of a workout. It puts the brain into a mild state of stress. You must sharpen your thinking and focus on what’s happening around you. Besides, drinking alcohol dilates the blood vessels slightly, which increases the flow of blood to the brain. This increases the levels of oxygen and glucose in the brain which stimulates its functioning.

13. Moderate intake of alcohol may help your memory

Excessive drinking may affect your brain’s ability to remember. But it seems that moderate drinking may help you remember things better.

A study at the University of Exeter found that people who drink alcohol after studying are better at recalling what they’ve learned. 88 people participated. They were asked to do a word-learning activity. Half of the group was instructed to abstain from alcohol. When the participants did the same task the next day, those who had drunk alcohol outperformed those who had not. The reasons for this are still being studied.

It is speculated that alcohol blocked those participants who drank it from learning any new information. This gave the brain more “space” and resources to devote to the information they’d learned that day and commit it to long-term memory.

A moderate intake of alcohol may also delay or disrupt the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A study conducted at Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine analyzed data from 143 studies conducted around the world. Their analysis determined that a moderate intake of alcohol makes one 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Heavy drinkers were, however, found to be more likely to develop dementia.

12. Moderate alcohol intake can give you a vitamin boost

Our bodies need vitamins and minerals to function. They fulfill important functions such as keeping our immune system functioning, looking after our organs, strengthening our bones and muscles, and healing our bodies. We get most of them from our diet.

Beer lovers will be pleased to know that their beverage of choice contains quite a few vitamins and minerals. It is rich in Vitamin B3 (niacin). This vitamin aids with digestion, skin health and the functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is also present in significant amounts in beer.

Vitamin B6 aids with brain development and the production of serotonin and norepinephrine. They are hormones which help the body deal with stress. Beer contains Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, which is a water-soluble vitamin essential for producing blood cells.

You can also find trace elements of thiamine (Vitamin B1) in beer. It plays a vital role in the breakdown of the carbohydrates we ingest. Vitamin B12 is also present in the beer. Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse that gives the body energy.

Beer also contains folates. Folate is essential in the replication of DNA, which is necessary for the body to manufacture new cells to replace those that have died.

11. Moderate alcohol intake can be good for your bones

Studies suggest that beer may help your bone density. Bone density is measured according to how much bone mineral there is in your bones. Osteoporosis is a condition that lowers your bone density, making you more susceptible to breaks and fractures.

Beer has a high silicon content. The National Institutes of Health indicates that dietary silicon such as that found in beer is essential for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue. This dietary silicon is known as orthosilicic acid (OSA). It is known to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Barley contains far more silicon than wheat. A study showed that wheat-based beers contain fewer hops. They are therefore much lower in silicon than barley-based beers, which include more hops. Corn is used during the brewing of “light” lagers, which means they also have lower levels of silicon in them.

The resveratrol in red wine has also been linked to improved bone density in the spinal bones. Resveratrol increases the levels of lipoprotein in the body which is known as the “good cholesterol.” It is also being considered as a potential treatment for osteoporosis as it seems to stimulate the bone-forming cells in the body. Its anti-inflammatory properties also seem to protect against bone loss.

10. Moderate alcohol intake can improve the effects of vaccines

Nobody likes the needle, but vaccinations are necessary. Every year, millions of people go for their annual flu shot. A moderate intake of alcohol can improve your immune system’s response to a vaccines like this.

In fact, researchers believe that drinking in moderation will help the body to respond to the flu vaccine. However, research on the connection between moderate alcohol intake and improved vaccine effects has only been conducted on rhesus monkeys so far.

They showed a markedly improved response to a vaccine if they ingested moderate amounts of alcohol. As their immune responses were tested over time, it became clear that those who ingested large quantities of alcohol had a poor immune response. However, those who ingested alcohol in moderate amounts showed an improved response to the vaccines.

This lengthy study has shown that there is potential for further research and development into the links between moderate alcohol intake and enhanced effects of vaccinations. A glass of wine with dinner seems to have the potential to keep your immune system responsive to vaccines.

9. Moderate intake of alcohol may protect you from the common cold

There’s nothing worse than the burning sore throat that marks the onset of a cold. You’re hot and sweating one minute, cold and shivering the next. Sneezes and sniffles invariably follow. There might even be a little coughing as well. Moderate drinking to combat the common cold is something that goes back a long way. Many people swear by a hot toddy as a cure.

There are different ways to make hot toddies, but they all contain a small amount of whiskey or brandy. It’s either added to boiling water, tea or warmed milk. Lemon, honey and cloves are used for additional healing effects.

The hot toddy works for a variety of reasons. It’s believed that because alcohol dilates your blood vessels, it eases some of the inflammation. Alcohol also makes you drowsy. Sleep and rest are the best medicine for a cold, and a hot toddy sends you to dreamland so the healing can begin.

A glass of wine can also play a role in preventing a cold. It is full of antioxidants that boost the immune system and help to fight off infection.

8. Moderate intake of alcohol might be beneficial to your kidneys

The prophets of doom which can only see the negative impacts of alcohol consumption will lecture you on the disastrous effects alcohol can have on your kidneys. This is not always the case.

Studies from Finland indicate that a bottle of beer can reduce your risk of developing kidney stones by 30-40%. 11,000 healthy men were monitored over a 14-year period. Those who drank about 7 bottles of beer a week showed a smaller risk of rising creatine levels. Your creatine levels are an indicator that there is something wrong with your kidneys. The hops in the beer act toward preventing kidney stones and slowing the release of calcium from the bones. Calcium build-up causes kidney stones.

Beer also has high water content. It helps to flush the kidneys out. This allows them to dispose of any waste the body doesn’t need. The occasional beer can, therefore, help to keep your kidneys clear of toxins by assisting to irrigate them. Published papers from 2014 indicate no real possibility of a decline in kidney function among people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol. Excessive drinking, however, will negatively affect your kidneys.

7. A moderate intake of alcohol may help you lose weight

Let’s face it, most of us have a few extra pounds we’d love to shed, especially as summer approaches. Some alcoholic beverages might help you lose weight. White wine drunk in moderate amounts is known to help with weight loss. It contains antioxidants called epicatechin, quercetin and resveratrol.

Antioxidants fight off diseases and also lower your levels of cholesterol, which helps with weight loss. But don’t rely on a few glasses of white wine to make you lose weight with no other interventions. Wine contains calories that need to be burned off through exercise.

The resveratrol found in white and red wine can burn fat. It can convert excess fat into “brown fat,” which burns calories. Testing of resveratrol on animal subjects revealed that those who consumed it gained 40% less weight than those who did not.

There is even evidence suggesting tequila can help you in your weight loss quest. Research indicates that the natural sugars (agavins) found in tequila are better for your body than artificial sweeteners. Animal testing revealed that those fed agavins had lower glucose levels and their appetite remained satisfied for longer.

6. A moderate intake of alcohol may enhance your exercise performance

If you consume a moderate amount of wine, you may find your morning workout more useful than ever. Studies indicate that the resveratrol found in large quantities in red wine may improve the functioning of the heart, the strength of the muscles and your overall physical performance.

In one such study, participants consumed large quantities of resveratrol. They showed a marked improvement in their workout capabilities and fitness. The amount of resveratrol they consumed was far more than what the average glass of wine would offer. A resveratrol supplement would be needed in addition to a glass of wine to get your levels high enough.

A study has linked wine consumption and exercise to lowered levels of cholesterol and a decreased risk of atherosclerosis. Cholesterol is fatty deposits that build up in the arteries and restrict the flow of blood as it is pumped into and out of the heart. Atherosclerosis is a condition caused by a buildup of plaque in the artery walls. It narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow in much the same way cholesterol does.

5. A moderate intake of alcohol can make you feel great after you’ve exercised

After a vigorous workout, you need to replenish specific compounds in your body that you burned off while exercising. One of the most important of these is water. Exercise dehydrates your body because it makes you sweat. Since beer is made up of a lot of water, it makes sense that an ice-cold beer after a workout will rehydrate you.

Scientists have also figured out that many people crave a beer or a glass of wine after a workout. It’s a psychological reward. Exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream.

Endorphins are “feel-good” substances that give us a sense of satisfaction. Having a beer or a glass of wine after a workout adds more endorphins to the mix. We encourage ourselves subconsciously to exercise again, so we can have a beer or a glass of wine after a workout to recreate that feeling.

Instead of reaching for a protein shake after a tough workout, you could grab a beer instead. Beer contains high quantities of B vitamins. Beer also contains protein. It is rich in fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. It’s advisable to drink a light beer after a workout. Follow your beer with a glass of water for additional hydration.

4. A moderate intake of alcohol may soothe sore muscles

Sore muscles are common after a strenuous workout. They set in some hours after you’ve exercised. The stiff, painful feeling can persist for up to 3-4 days. It is called Delay Onset Muscle Syndrome (DOMS). It is characterized by microscopic damage to the muscles and inflammation caused by exertion. The pain can be so severe that you struggle to do everyday tasks.

The ethanol in beer is believed to have pain-relieving properties. Beverages that contain ethanol may also have an anti-inflammatory effect. The links between having a beer to relieve muscle soreness after a workout are tenuous.

But bear in mind the endorphins released into the bloodstream when you drink alcohol. They make us feel good and may reduce the brain’s perception of the sensation of pain.

Remember that too much of a good thing is bad for you. So, a beer or two after a workout, if your muscles are sore, won’t hurt. But if you drink excessively, you’ll wake the next morning feeling even worse. The loss of coordination and balance you experience during a heavy drinking session can overwork your muscles, leaving them aching and stiff.

3. A moderate intake of alcohol may reduce your risk of a heart attack

A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to your heart is suddenly cut off. The heart is a muscle that continuously pumps blood through the body. Without a supply of blood, the heart cannot work. This can be due to a clot or clogged arteries or veins.

If the cause of the heart attack is not treated, the damage to the heart may be permanent. In the wake of the heart attack, your heartbeat may become erratic.

It may stop entirely, which is called a cardiac arrest. Doctors or paramedics will then try to “re-start” the heart using CPR or a defibrillator that administers a shock.

A Swedish study conducted over a period of 32 years found that women who drink 1-2 beers weekly are less likely to have a heart attack. Up to 30% reduced their risk, compared to women who do not drink at all.

A glass of red wine is packed with antioxidants that help keep the heart and the arteries healthy. Moderate intake of red wine may reduce your risk of a heart attack.

2. A moderate intake of alcohol may help your digestive system

A glass of wine with dinner may very well aid the digestive process. German researchers found that fermented drinks such as wine, sherry and beer can help with digestion. But drinks that are fermented and distilled (such as rum and whiskey) do not have an appreciable effect on digestion.

Fermented drinks speed up the process of getting food out of the stomach and into the intestines. They also stimulate gastric acid, which is essential for the breakdown of food. It’s believed that this property is in an alcoholic beverage when it has been fermented, but gets removed as soon as it is distilled.

Drinking wine with a meal consisting of meat may help with digestion. Red wine may counteract a potentially harmful substance found in meat. These are oxidized fats, known as malonaldehydes (MDA), and they are released when meat is digested.

In 2008, a study conducted on the release of MDA had some interesting findings. The subjects were served a piece of dark meat from a turkey. Their MDA levels increased. However, if they drank red wine while consuming the meat, there was no MDA.

1. A moderate alcohol intake may lengthen your lifespan

A variety of studies have consistently shown that a moderate intake of alcohol may increase longevity. People who don’t consume any alcohol tend to die sooner than people who do. In fact, some studies have gone so far as to suggest that moderate drinkers may live longer than those who abstain. This may be due to the antioxidants in wine.

Resveratrol is a potent compound found in abundant quantities in red wine. It is suitable for your cardiovascular health, which is why a glass of wine a day may help to keep your ticker going for longer.

A moderate intake of alcohol is also said to be helpful in reducing stress, which is a significant killer across the world. Many people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol do so on social occasions. Socializing is very important for human beings: we are, by nature, social animals. Socializing with people, whether it’s spouse, partner, family or friends is important for your quality of life.

Loneliness has long-term negative consequences for our longevity, scientists are discovering. The improved lifespan of people who drink in moderation cannot be linked to alcohol alone. Factors such as diet, exercise and lifestyle are essential as well.