The Ins-and-Outs of Alcohol
A note from Angela Spencer, RD
March is known for being the start of Spring and Saint Patty’s Day, which is often associated with a nice tall glass of beer or two or three or four… Although alcohol can have some health benefits, the ins-and-outs of alcohol consumption can be a bit confusing. One news story seems to suggest it is good for our hearts and another that it raises blood pressure or cancer risk. While we're still learning and studying alcohol's effects on us medically, we have learned some things already. Below are some tips that can be helpful regarding health and alcohol (of course, if you have liver disease or alcoholism, then your best bet is to abstain):
1. If weight loss is your goal, alcohol can be your enemy
. Alcohol gets first priority in the body since it is recognized as a toxin; therefore, if you are eating and drinking more than 1-2 servings at a meal, the food will get pushed aside and stored as fat rather than being utilized as energy. Further, it decreases your inhibitions, and you are more likely to choose unhealthy foods. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram with no nutrients, which add up. Here are the stats:
Spirits 100 calories 1.5 oz
Light Beer 100 calories 12 oz
Regular Beer 150 calories 12 oz
Dessert wine 180 calories 4 oz
Table Wine 100 calories 4 oz
Margarita 370 calories 8 oz
2. When alcohol is consumed in moderation, the liver can usually handle the job and this might even increase your good cholesterol
. However, in excess, alcohol can be metabolized into triglycerides, which leads to increased blood levels
. Elevated TG increases your risk for diabetes, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease.
3. A couple of servings of alcohol a week may indeed help to lower blood pressure, but more than that can actually increase your blood pressure. The tug of war on your blood pressure!
4. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns
. You may feel like alcohol helps you to sleep, but how good is that sleep? There are different sleep stages and the deepest stages are the most important because that's where your body truly rests and restores itself. Alcohol prevents you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, leaving you tired the next day. Not getting adequate sleep can lead to weight gain, and can also lead to other issues such as migraines, high blood pressure, depression, hallucinations, hand tremors... the list goes on!
So although benefits can be found in alcohol, it should be something used in moderation
. If you enjoy a drink on this St. Patty's Day, try one or two instead of four or more, and have fun and remember
the celebration of Ireland's patron saint!