Statistics show that 57% of Americans drink alcohol at least once a month. Studies suggest that drinking alcohol moderately is harmless and others even believe it may have some health benefits. It has been shown by research that people who have one to two drinks a day may have a significantly reduced risk of death from heart disease and other causes, compared to those who never drink alcohol.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that moderate consumption of alcohol is a component of a beneficial dietary pattern in most studies. Moderation is the key word for alcohol consumption. There are other studies that show alcohol consumption increases your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, even when taken at moderate levels. Furthermore, when alcohol is compared to other recreational drugs as tobacco and marijuana, alcohol is the deadliest.
It is better overall to eliminate all forms of alcohol as the benefits it may provide will unlikely add much to an otherwise healthy diet. It has been suggested through research that exercise can do a lot toward mitigating the health risks in the consumption of alcohol, including reducing your risk for heart disease. Exercise may be one of the most effective strategies for protecting and strengthening your heart. Regular exercise can significantly lower your health care costs for heart disease as well.
An acute effect of alcohol is that it depresses your central nervous system and slows down the communication between your brain cells. Alcohol consumption lowers your inhibitions. The prefrontal cortex also slows in response to alcohol and leads to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment. High doses of alcohol can result in alcohol poisoning that can shut down areas of your brain that control basic life-support functions like breathing and heart rate, that may lead to death. Some signs of alcohol poisoning include: loss of coordination, cold and clammy hands, bluish skin due to hypothermia, vomiting repeatedly or uncontrollably, irregular or slow breathing seizures, confusion, unconsciousness, stupor and sometimes coma.
Long-term ramifications of chronic alcohol consumption can be weight gain and fatty liver disease. Cutting out alcohol will be part of the treatment if your fatty liver disease is related to your consumption of alcohol.
Exercise is a foundation for good health, but might be even more important if you are drinking alcohol on a regular basis.
Your brain will also be protected with exercise and diminishes the risk of alcohol abuse. Long-time drinkers who exercise regularly have less damaged white matter in their brains compared to those who rarely exercise. Drinking alcohol also chemically alters your brain to release dopamine and exercise also triggers this release with other feel-good chemicals.
Get your “buzz” out of working out rather than grabbing that six-pack of beer. Exercise is especially beneficial for those who are already addicted and may actually help to lesson the cravings. If you are having a few drinks, try this protocol beforehand to help pre-tox your body.
N-acetyl cysteine known to help increase glutathione and reduce acetaidehyde toxicity that causes hangover symptoms.
B Vitamins. Vitamin B6 may help in less hangover symptoms.
Milk Thistle: Antioxidants to help protect your liver from toxins and effects of alcohol.
Vitamin C: Your body may be depleted of Vitamin C from alcohol consumption.
Magnesium: Nutrient depleted by alcohol and has anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce hangover symptoms.
Just remember that alcohol use diminishes your fitness and exercise will definitely be a benefit. If you are planning that night out and know you will be consuming alcohol, try some of the above suggestions to help with that morning after hang over. Enjoy that party, cautiously!
– Dr Fredda Branyon