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Alcohol Consumption Guidelines, Diet Health Risks, Weight Control

Effects of Alcohol on Dietary Health

Diet Information - Alcohol Intake in Diet - Advice About Alcoholics Diet

Alcohol and Diet Health

Latest Alcohol Guidelines For Optimum Dietary Health

The latest Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommends that those who choose to drink alcohol beverages should do so in moderation. In the Guidelines, moderation is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Examples of "one alcoholic drink" include: (1) 12 fluid ounces of regular beer; or (2) 5 fluid ounces of wine; or (3) 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. This refers to permissable alcohol-intake during the course of a day. It is not intended as a daily alcohol allowance which may be safely accumulated during the week and then drunk at the weekend!

Moderate Consumption of Alcohol Benefits Health

When consumed in moderation, alcohol does seem to offer several health benefits. But heavy drinking is closely associated with much higher risk of serious disease. In simple terms, the healthiest individuals enjoy 1-2 drinks per day, while heavy drinkers are among the least healthy populuation group. In particular, moderate alcohol consumption appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, either by reducing the stickiness of blood platelets (that usually adhere to each other, thus forming a blood clot - the precursor to a heart attack), or by relaxing and enlarging blood vessels, or by increasing the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood.

Health Studies Into Benefits of Alcohol in Diet

  • According to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study, which tracked one million Americans for 12 years, concluded that moderate alcohol intake had a protective effect on the development of coronary heart disease in men. Those who drank alcoholic beverages had a 21 percent lower risk of heart attack than men who never drink.
  • Similar research data into diet and alcohol intake for 600,000 women also showed that one drink a day reduced the risk of heart attack for a woman.
  • A Tulane University study of other diet and alcohol studies revealed that men who had two drinks a day were 30 percent less likely than non-drinkers to have a clot-related stroke. However, having 5 alcoholic drinks a day increases the health risk by 70 percent.
  • A University of Copenhagen study into alcohol intake in daily diet revealed that moderate wine drinking reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, compared to that of non-drinkers. In contrast, beer drinkers had a higher risk of mental disorders in old age.

Excessive Alcohol is Bad For Weight Control and Nutrition

When trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, an excessive alcohol intake makes it harder to ingest adequate nutrition while remaining within your calorie allowance. Meaning: drinking alcohol when following a weight loss diet is bad, either because you eat too many calories and gain weight, or because the non-nutritional calories in alcohol are likely to cause you to go without essential minerals and vitamins.

Excessive Alcohol is Bad For General Health

Although both beneficial and adverse health effects of alcohol consumption vary according to the amount consumed and the individual characteristics and circumstances of the drinker, the health consequences of heavy alcohol consumption are well documented. They include: increased risk of liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, as well as cancers of the throat, stomach and rectum.

Studies Into Adverse Health Effects of Alcohol in Diet

Recent studies into alcohol consumption and health include the following:

  • Research by the American Cancer Society reveals that older women who consume more than 3 alcoholic beverages a week may increase their risk of breast cancer.
  • Cancer studies show that men or women who have 2 drinks a day have a higher incidence of mouth and throat cancers.
  • A University of Oklahoma study shows that men who drink 5+ beers a day double their risk of rectal cancer.

Individuals Who Should Not Drink Alcohol

According to advice from the US government, the following people should eliminate alcohol from their daily diet.

  • All children and adolescents. (Note: alcohol use among young adults is associated with a higher risk of traumatic injury and death.)
  • Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant.
  • Pregnant and lactating women. (Note: even moderate drinking when pregnant may have serious health consequences for the baby.)
  • People who are unable to control their alcohol intake.
  • People taking medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • People with specific medical conditions, such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • People who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination.

Calories in Alcoholic Drinks

See below for estimated calorie values in common alcoholic beverages. Please note that alcoholic drinks contain "empty calories" - energy without any significant nutritional content.

Alcoholic Beverage Serving Size Calorie Content
Regular Beer 12 oz 144 calories
Light Beer 12 oz 108 calories
Red Wine 5 oz 105 calories
White Wine 5 oz 100 calories
80 proof distilled spirits
(gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
1.5 oz 96 calories

Source: US Nutrient Database.

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The Benefits Of Sobriety

If you've ever been in a position where you've felt stressed, out of control or unable to cope, you might have turned to alcohol as a means of coping. Many of us do this - for some, it can be a fleeting thing that passes with time. For others, the problem can be something that lingers and turns into something much deeper rooted. At different times of the year pressures to drink can increase - but if you're already in a situation where you're dependent or feel you can't control it, you should try and seek help. There are many benefits to being clean and sober - and once you stop drinking you'll be able to reap those rewards...


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