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Alcohol is the most popular choice at social gathering to break the barriers. But how alcohol impact on human health? Is it healthy, or it’s just a good occasional treat after a long time? It’s important to understand pro and cons of alcohol, so you can find a healthy balance. Let’s find out with BestLifeTips right below.
How long does alcohol stay in your body?
Your body’s natural reaction is to metabolize alcohol at a rate of 20 mg/dL. This means that if you have a blood alcohol level of 40 mg/dL, which is about 2 hours after consumption, it would take about 2 hours for the alcohol to be metabolized.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to the amount of alcohol in your blood in relation to the amount of water in your blood. For instance, 2 people have the same blood alcohol level but their BAC might be very different.
There are different factors that affect BAC and how you react to alcohol such as age, weight, medications, binge drinking and so on. It’s also important to get to know how much alcohol is in your drink, which determines how long it takes your body to metabolize. Below are general estimates for alcohol metabolism:
- Large glass of wine: 3 hours
- Pint of beer: 2 hours
- Small shot of liquor: 1 hour
- a few drinks: several hours
See more: The risks of drinking too much
When you drink alcohol, it first passes through your digestive system. Alcohol, on the other hand, is not metabolized in the same way that food and other beverages are. A single drink delivers about 20% of the alcohol directly to the blood vessels. It then makes its way to your brain. The remaining 80% passes via your small intestine and into your bloodstream.
The elimination of alcohol from the body through the liver is the final step in the alcohol life cycle. This procedure can be slowed down if you have a liver problem.
Pro and cons of alcohol
Moderation is the key when it comes to any kind of foods and drinks consuming. In comparison with other beverage, when you consume alcohol, that means you consume calories that do not contain any nutrients. So alcohol is a source of “pure” or “naked” calories. Let’s review the pros and cons of alcohol.
Pro #1: Alcohol helps your heart
Red wine contains flavonoids and antioxidants. Consuming it in moderate amount may bring some benefits for your heart. However, you can have the same thing while choosing other non-alcoholic foods and beverages without the side effects that come with alcohol.
Pro #2: Alcohol helps your cholesterol
Drinking alcohol boosts your HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol in your body. HDL cholesterol fights the bad one, LDL cholesterol, which can promote heart health.
Pro #3: Alcohol fights common cold
Alcohol is proven to be associated with lower prevalence of self-reported common cold. Scientists found out that drinking 8-14 glasses of red wine a week could decrease the risk of developing a cold as much as 60%.
See more: Alcohol and common cold association study.
Pro #4: Alcohol decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
According to American Diabetes Association, men that occasionally drink alcohol appear to lower their risk of type 2 diabetes by 25%. Scientists also indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol improves the average blood glucose level.
Con #1: Alcohol increases cancer risk and other diseases
It’s clear and easy to get this point: heavy drinking cause hepatitis and cirrhosis, both of which are very serious. It also increases the blood pressure and damages muscle of the heart. Moreover, over drinking is also the major cause for driving accident and leads people to misbehave.
Alcohol has also been related to malignancies of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and colon, as well as the breast cancer risk listed above, according to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Con #2: Alcohol is a big source of calories
Alcoholic drinks contain a large amount of calories with no nutritional value. If we have no control over our alcohol consumption, it easily destroys your diet plan. Additionally, drinking alcohol actually makes you eat more. The calories found in alcoholic drinks are zero and they stimulate hunger. We end up eating more than normal on top of the calories in the alcoholic drinks.
Con #3: Alcohol affects your brains
One of the most obvious sign for alcohol’s impact on our behavior is slurred speech. Alcohol reduces communication between body and brain. Besides of that, alcohol also causes more damage on our central nervous system, accordingly we may experience numbness and tingling sensations on hands and feet.
Con #4: Alcohol makes you dependent
Over drinking alcohol may develop a physical and emotional dependency on alcohol. But few people realize their situation and seek for professional help. Alcohol withdrawal can be hard and life-threatening.
Some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawals:
- Heavy sweating
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
Con #5: Alcohol affects your sexual and reproductive health
It’s a common misunderstanding about alcohol helps you have more fun in bed. But the reality is quite different. Men with over alcohol drinking are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. For women, it heightens risk of infertility and premature delivery, miscarriage or stillbirth. Besides, heavy drinking can also prevent the sex hormone production and lower your libido.
Con #6: Alcohol threatens your immune system
Heavy drinking makes it harder for you to fight off invading germs and viruses. It severely destroys the body’s natural immune system. People who drink heavily for a long time are also more prone than the average population to get pneumonia or tuberculosis. Alcohol intake is linked to about 10% of all tuberculosis cases in the world.
Healthier alternatives to alcohol
We all know about the side effect of alcohol, but do we have other options to replace alcohol? There are plenty of choices for food and beverage that still give you the social feelings without potentially harmful risks.
Whenever you are, it’s easy to prepare an alternative to alcohol, called mocktail, which are made of fruit juice, sparkling water, honey and other spices to create beverage that look and give a feeling of cocktail. No consumption of alcohol, calories but fresh, healthy and easy to prepare.
One of the most trendy drink among young generation is Kombucha, the fermented and naturally lightly sparkling drink made from green or black tea and a sprinkling of bacteria. There are different flavors to choose from, such as ginger, red beet, seaweed and so on. You can create your own Kombucha recipes by combining it with different ingredients. The possibility is endless.
Alcohol-free sparkling wine
There are more and more people take their health seriously and look for alcohol-free products. As a result, beer industry and spirit sector has developed alternatives to their best-selling products. You can find an organic, vegan and non-alcoholic sparkling wines that are low at sugar easily in any stores.
Sparkling juices has been made in the same process with sparkling wine, so it’s a great choice for an alternative that has bubbles. In addition, shrubs can be another perfect non-alcoholic option for wine drinkers. They are made with herbs, fruits and apple vinegar and the variety of flavors make them a natural perfect alternative for wine.
The consumption rate of Gin has decreased dramatically these days. It’s because that consumers take their eat clean diet more seriously than ever. Alcohol-free gin is made with brewed juniper distillate and steam distilled botanicals that add more flavors and make Gin more appealing and healthier choice.
There are more brands encourage their consumer try “lite” version of many of their products. It’s a big change in customer behaviors these days when people choose non-alcohol drinks over others. BrewDog and Bid Drop are two of many brands that benefit from the alcohol-free drinks.
Pro and cons of alcohol-FAQ
What alcohol is good for health?
In case alcohol drinks are unavoidable, there are 7 healthy alcoholic drinks you can choose from.
- Vodka Soda
- Ultra Brut Champagne
- Dry wine
- Bloody Mary
- Whiskey on the Rocks
Is it good to drink alcohol every day?
It’s reported that alcohol sales were up over 20% during Covid-19 pandemic even though restaurants and bars were closed. It’s time to reconsider how daily consumption of alcohol effect human health. The most obvious impact is on your weight because alcohol is a big source of calories. As persistent alcohol drinking increases fat in your body, it heightens your risk for a heart attack or stroke will also go up.
What’s more? You can’t go to the gym and rarely work out, so gaining weight is unavoidable. Alcohol also mess with our gut bacteria and causes several digestive problems. In addition to hurting gut bacteria, daily drinking increase your heart rate and involved in 10% of persistent insomnia cases.
How much alcohol is ok?
Here’s the Australian guidelines to reduce health risk from drinking alcohol. How much alcohol to drink is a personal choice, but you should know that drinking is never completely safe. The less you drink, the lower risk you will take. For someone with health issues, not drinking at all is the top choice.
For a healthy adult, to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol drinks, it’s recommended not to drink more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on a day.
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We may find alcoholic drinks bring people together and sometimes give us fun, but it’s not a good reason to choose to be a frequent drinker. By considering pro and cons of alcohol, we can find a way to balance and have a healthier approach to drinking. If you find it helpful, give BestLifeTips a thumb up and return often for more health tips.