BY JEAN TONG, NUTRITIONIST, HALLEY MEDICAL AESTHETICS
Everyone says drinking is bad for health so should you avoid alcohol totally?
A piece of good news for those who enjoy and love drinking: moderate alcohol consumption may well be good for our health.
There has been an extensive number of studies that reveal a J-shaped association between alcohol intake and an array of health conditions. These include coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, hypertension, and even diabetes and dementia. What this research jargon means is studies have shown that alcohol, when consumed in moderation, may well provide some health benefits. However, when consumed excessively, it may well tip our heart, brain and general health.
The question is: to drink or not to drink?
Drink in moderation
Studies show that light to moderate alcohol consumption of up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks daily for men, are shown to have cardioprotective benefits.
Researchers discovered that alcohol consumption gives cardiovascular protection predominately through improved insulin sensitivity and an increase in the “good” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (hdl) cholesterol, which carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver to be eliminated from your body. It is postulated that it is the ethanol – the intoxicating agent found in beer, wine, and liquor – itself, rather than specific components of various alcoholic beverages, that play the major role in conferring such heart health benefits.
In brief, it means that low-dose daily alcohol is associated with better health than less frequent consumption. Conversely, binge or excessive drinking worsens cardiovascular outcomes and mortality.
“Drinking alcohol is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Don’t feel pressured to drink, and drink in moderation,” reminds Jean Tong, nutritionist and weight management manager with Halley Medical Aesthetics. And remember, drinking and driving do not go together.
Alcohol without exercise has adverse results
Finally, if you are wondering if drinking will give you a beer belly, Dr. Terence Tan of Halley says “no, not in the way that you are thinking.”
He explains that while there is no evidence that drinking beer will give you a beer belly, consuming calories that comes with it without expending an equal amount through exercise will make you put on weight. (Watch his explanation in this video.)
We will leave you with a reference on how much you should exercise to burn away 180 kcal of calories from drinking a pint of bitter.
180 kcal is equivalent to:
- 14 mins of running;
- 17 mins of swimming;
- 20 mins of football; or
- 28 mins of cycling.
(Source: Men’s Health)