One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to give up or cut back on one’s alcohol intake. If you have a serious alcohol abuse problem, that’s definitely a good idea. For the rest of us, it’s a bit more complicated.
If you think you have an alcohol problem and are looking for a way to solve it, we suggest you read ‘Cold Turkey Isn’t The Only Route,’ an Op-Ed by Gabrielle Glaser published the other day in the Times. Glaser isn’t a doctor, but she does raise the important point that there is no scientific evidence that A.A.’s powerlessness/abstinence approach actually works. Oh, and go speak to a doctor or a therapist stat!
With that serious stuff out of the way, we want to talk about the health benefits of drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages. While it’s considered common knowledge at this point that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart, the actual science isn’t conclusive. If you’re interested, the Mayo Clinic put together some info about the effects of resveratrol on your heart, the substance found in red wine that may or may not work wonders. More research has come out since that guide was published, both in support of and against the notion that resveratrol, specifically delivered via fermented grapes, helps the heart. And then there’s the French Paradox. The bottom line is – if you like red wine, drink it in moderation. It may help and as long as you do so in moderation, it shouldn’t hurt. On to the roundup of drinking related health stories that have recently crossed our inbox.
A Few Drinks A Week Could Keep You From Getting Sick
“New evidence suggests that a drink a day could help keep the doctor away — when it comes to cold and flu season, that is. The researchers found that heavy drinking had impaired immune response, while — to their surprise — moderate drinking had improved it. That means the moderate drinkers fared better than the teetotaling controls.
One big study in the American Journal of Public Health found that moderate drinking was associated with a decreased risk of getting a cold, though the researchers emphasized booze isn’t a cold-fighting measure — no matter how many times you argue that vodka kills germs.
Still, there’s reason to be cautious. While studies define ‘moderate’ drinking differently, some evidence seems to indicate that even moderate alcohol use may handicap your immune defenses. A review in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism concluded that drinking can actually increase susceptibility to infection and disease. While the jury is still out on the alcohol-immunity link, a long list of research has found a positive link between moderate drinking and general health.”
The (Creative) Problems Alcohol Can Help You Solve
“A paper titled ‘Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving’ was the focus of a flurry of coverage on Thursday. In short, the study lends long-awaited credence to the idea that, when faced with certain creative tasks, a bit of alcohol might not be a bad idea.
Specifically, the study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition earlier this year, suggests that a certain amount of alcohol — enough to make you blow a 0.075 on a breathalyzer, to be exact — could nudge your mind just enough out of focus to be able to explore unorthodox solutions to a problem. Whether this nudge is helpful or detrimental depends on the problem at hand.
‘There are times where having a bit of alcohol might help with you with what you are trying to accomplish,’ said first study author Andrew Jarosz, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.”
Drinking Wine Leads To Stronger Sperm
“A team of researchers at the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, has found that men who drink wine up to three times per week create stronger sperm. In the Polish study, the sperm were stronger, with more powerful necks, when the men drank wine in moderation regularly. To put it one way, stronger sperm are better swimmers, increasing the chance of fertilization.”
We should note, nothing we’ve written here should be taken as medical advice. We’re not doctors. We just like to know how our favorite beverage affects our body.