Drink In Some Facts about Alcohol and Your Health

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/12/2011 6:00 PM   :  18 comments   :  12,315 Views

See More: drinks, mr. bad food,

For me, one of the hardest things about "dieting" is giving up my beloved beer. While I am trying to watch my calorie intake, a typical beer just isn't worth the investment.
 
This past weekend I tried the Bud Select 55 after hearing each can had just 55 calories. I should be drummed out of the beer drinkers association. This stuff tastes more like beer-flavored water than honest-to-goodness beer.
 
Michelob Ultra, at 95 calories, is slightly better tasting, but neither beer has proved satisfying for me.
 
I found some satisfaction in a vodka and diet tonic with lime. But booze doesn't make me feel very good the next day, so I guess I'll simply cut back altogether.

My research into the nutritional content of beers and booze got me wondering if there is any real benefit to drinking alcohol. (And are there any Diet-Friendly Alcohol Choices?) So belly up to the bar and take this little quiz prepared by my longtime friend, dietitian Susan Burke March. While you're at it, let me ask: How Many Calories Are You Drinking?

The answers to these 10 true-or-false statements may surprise you. Cheers!
 
Alcohol is a stimulant.

False! Alcohol is a drug that acts like a depressant or sedative. (Read more about Alcohol and Weight Loss.)

 
 
Drinking coffee is a good way to sober up.
False! Coffee, a cold shower or exercise cannot rid your system of alcohol. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, so you may feel more alert, but your judgment, vision, hearing, concentration, coordination and muscular activity will remain impaired. Only time can sober you up. It takes about an hour and a half to eliminate a standard glass of an alcoholic drink regardless of age, sex and size.
 
Food and milk coat the stomach and prevent the absorption of alcohol.
False! Food and milk do not prevent the absorption of alcohol, but they do slow the passage of alcohol from the stomach to the small intestines. This means that alcohol "goes to the head" more slowly if one has just eaten or if one eats while drinking.
 
Alcohol can be healthy for you.
True! What needs to be clarified is the amount. All alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle – in moderation that is. And that means no more than 2 drinks per day for men or 1 drink per day for women. A "drink" is a 4-5 ounces of wine, a shot of spirits or 12 ounces of regular beer.

Men and women can drink the same amount of alcohol.
False! Alcohol has more of an effect on women than men, so there is a lower recommended intake of one drink per day for women, compared with two drinks per day for men.
 
 
Beer does not make you gain weight.
True! Drinking alcohol is not associated with weight gain but when consumed in excess it can lead to weight gain. Any form of alcohol is a "calorie-dense" food. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol offers no nutritional value. (Alcohol and Weight Gain: Have We Had it Wrong All Along?)
 
 
White wine is a good choice if you want a drink with less alcohol.
False! A glass of wine has as much alcohol as a shot of spirits or 12 ounces of beer. Your brain cannot tell the difference. Alcohol is alcohol is alcohol!
 
Light beer has the same kick as regular beer.
True! The term "light" signifies a product with slightly less alcohol and fewer calories than regular beer. In most cases, the difference is very slight. Non-alcoholic beers, however, have less than half a percent of alcohol and are much lower in calories.
 
As long as your weekly number of drinks balance out you can overindulge on occasion.
False! The health benefits of alcohol are associated with sticking to one to two drinks per day, maximum. Drinks can't be "saved" over time and consumed at one sitting. This is known as "binge drinking," and it's a serious problem.
 
Red wine is healthier than beer.
False! The moderate consumption of any alcohol is associated with better health and longer life than is either abstaining from alcohol or abusing alcohol. It's the ethanol in all forms of alcohol that has been shown to provide beneficial heart health effects. (Learn the Truth about Alcohol and Heart Health.)
 
Thanks to you, Susan, for serving up that round of booze clues! The bottom line: Everything in moderation, including alcohol. So drink to your health... not until you're pickled--and Say Cheers to Slimmed Down Cocktails
 
Do you think alcohol has a place in a healthy lifestyle? Why or why not?
 



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Comments

  • 18
    I make my own wine and enjoy a glass with dinner on weekends . - 3/17/2012   1:10:59 PM
  • 17
    Alchol does have a place in ones life (if he or she is not recovering). However, I have found out something very interesting over the last month on my own.

    I travel for work (am on the road several nights a week) and although I take GREAT care in what I eat when I eat out, I usually have 1-2 glasses of wine with dinner. Well, over the last month I have been VERY careful with my intake because my HS reunion was coming up and I needed to fit into my outfit (besides, I wanted to look really good:-)). I stopped drinking wine with my meals. The only other thing I changed was that I was a bit more careful with the amount of foods I ate (I measured more often, but am pretty good eyeballing so this did not make too much of an impact). I lost 5 pounds in one month...it was from cutting out the wine!!!

    So if you are going to drink, please know it will affect your goals! - 10/18/2011   11:54:55 AM
  • 16
    LOVED this. I am a vodka drinker by choice when I do drink which is socially at that. While I always have alcohol in my house, it seems more of a "chore" to make myself a drink verses getting a bottle of water from the fridge. I laughed when you said alcohol can't be stored up for one day. Who would think that would be ok? Me having 7 drinks on one day would not only be STUPID, and I'd probably pass out around 4-5, but seriously? Funny how people try to justify.
    Anyway I appreciate your research and your blog. I'm almost tempted to go make a drink, but I walked my first 5K today, and i'm way to amped to put something like that into my body. :)
    Cheers!!!! Keep on writing! - 10/16/2011   9:22:39 PM
  • 15
    Wine for sure is healthy for you, only one glass to me. Can't stand beer. - 10/15/2011   2:05:35 PM
  • 14
    For me, drinking alcohol is not healthy at all. I take various prescribed meds which would interact badly with alcohol.

    Also, when I was younger and tried alcohol, I did not care for the taste. - 10/14/2011   12:50:14 PM
  • 13
    I would rather have water, Milk & herbal tea
    then Alcohol of any kind. I don't beleive that
    Alcohol of any kind should be part of a healthy diet.
    - 10/13/2011   8:59:43 PM
  • 12
    I see nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine, or cocktail, beer, if you prefer. Everything in moderation! - 10/13/2011   4:28:10 PM
  • PICKANYNAME
    11
    I'm not a big drinker, so the Bud Select 55 and Michelob Ultra are good choices for me when I want a beer (usually with veggie chips/straws or homemade pizza). Since I don't indulge on a regular basis, I may have the occasional glass of wine, homemade watermelon, or plain (skinny version) margarita courtesy of my husband. I wish I had a dollar for every time I said, "I want a daiquiri," and later changed my mind because for me it just isn't worth the calories! - 10/13/2011   11:25:36 AM
  • 10
    I think alcohol can have a healthy place a person's life. Like everything else, if you deny yourself of something you enjoy- when you do have allow yourself to have it, that's when binge drinking occurs...and "everything in moderation" goes out the window!
    As for me, I don't drink often, because I don't desire it most of the time, but when I do it's usually a glass of white wine. I drink it out of the small glasses you get when you go for wine tasting, so it helps me stay in the 4-5oz range. Or while at a great summer bbq...it's always a beer! - 10/13/2011   10:59:11 AM
  • GMAGEE
    9
    Yes, alcohol has a place in a healthy diet. Everything (or at least most things) in moderation, right? A small glass of wine or a 'baby' (6 oz.) beer with dinner is not going to severely impact your diet and can go a long way to smoothing out the day, and I, for one, am for it.

    And I'm with you, RD03875, about a little Bailey's in coffee. Yum! Come back to the U.S. soon and have some. - 10/13/2011   10:02:36 AM
  • 8
    All beer is not created equal. Beer can range from 3.2% alcohol to over 10% alcohol. We brew our own and test each batch for content. After 2 years I can't even drink commercially prepared beer and my husband can't..............if he wants to sleep in bed anyway ;-) as it does strange things to his digestive tract (read "It STINKS) The vitamins from the yeast are a benefit to home/micro brews. So read each label on your cans or bottles. They should give you the alcohol content and then adjust as necessary. - 10/13/2011   7:39:21 AM
  • 7
    Personally if I WANT a drink of something, I WILL have a drink of something! I live in a world where ALL alcohol of any kind is forbidden and against the law so when I go home on vacation I have a beer or I put bailey's in my coffee. - 10/13/2011   5:00:36 AM
  • LORTHOM2001
    6
    EVERYthing that has been placed on earth as food is good to be consumed...EVERYTHING, but only n moderation. Wo(Man) shall not be drunken with wine (spirits, alcohol, etc). Overindulgence is a clear sign of an addictive behavior, undiscipled instability and also one of weakness in the mind, soul, spirit and body. - 10/13/2011   3:20:35 AM
  • 5
    My grandma swore by a glass of wine and a carrot every day, and died at age 100. She also occasionally smoked, and died a size 12 (not vanity-sized). She was my idol. She was also a flapper and on the girls basketball team.

    Just being "healthy" isn't everything. Ya gotta live a little. - 10/13/2011   12:58:53 AM
  • 4
    One 3.5 oz glass of red wine with dinner is something I enjoy very much. - 10/13/2011   12:34:41 AM
  • 3
    I would rather have a very small few sips of a good dark beer than the watered down "light" beers. It's kind of like that one bite of dark chocolate every so often is so very good and worth waiting for. - 10/12/2011   10:31:31 PM
  • 2
    I do not drink beer, have an allergy to some of its components. However, my husband does like his beer. He tried the Bud Select 55 and had the same reaction as you did, not satisfied at all. Finds he will just have to limit is intake of good real beer. - 10/12/2011   9:27:10 PM
  • 1
    Unfortunately, I like the dark beers. The darker and thicker the better. ...Not healthy for a diet, although I like to justify the home/micro brews that are naturally carbonated by having all that extra nutrition from the yeast (B vit's). - 10/12/2011   6:56:30 PM

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