Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toasting Your Good Health

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, alcohol will be part of the celebration. While I do some moderate drinking, I should point out that, from a health perspective, there are pros and cons to consuming alcohol. Experts advise that moderate alcohol consumption can have health benefits, but too much imbibing can quickly reverse any positive effects. Moderate drinking is considered to be one drink a day for women and two for men of all ages.

Generally health officials do not advise people who presently don’t drink to start. But if you currently enjoy alcohol, keep in mind that moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits such as reducing the risk of developing heart disease or dying of a heart attack and reducing your risk of strokes, gallstones, and possibly diabetes. However, excessive alcohol consumption has been correlated to serious health problems including: cancer of the pancreas, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast; pancreatitis, especially in people with high levels of triglycerides in their blood; sudden death in people with cardiovascular disease or heart muscle damage leading to heart failure; stroke and brain atrophy (shrinkage); and cirrhosis of the liver (

If you watch your weight, do consider the calories. Drinks toting the highest calorie counts are: margaritas in a pint glass – 550, mudslides (4.5 oz.) – 417, Long Island ice teas (7 oz. +) – 380, white Russians (6 oz.) – 320, and the popular piƱa coladas (6 oz.) – 293. Your best bets include: rum (1 oz.) and Diet Cokes – 65, vodka (1 oz.) and sodas – 65, white wine spritzers (4 oz. wine) – 80, bloody Marys (5 oz. +) – 90, and light beer (12 oz.) – 103.

Finally, keep in mind that our alcohol tolerance declines with both age and increased stress levels. Many states have adopted zero tolerance policies toward those driving while impaired, so monitor yourself carefully this holiday while celebrating. Let’s keep it a truly happy and safe season!

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