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Health Benefits of Alcohol Consumption

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  • 0:02 Is It Good For You?
  • 1:06 Benefits
  • 2:50 Balancing Risk
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

There are some possible health benefits associated with the consumption of alcohol. However, you have to weigh possible negative consequences along with these health benefits.

Is It Good for You?

Everyone has heard the saying, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'. But we also all know that eating too many apples at one time can cause a painful stomachache. If you were allergic to apples, it might have even worse consequences!

The same can be considered true about drinking alcohol. You may have heard recent reports that one glass of wine a day can help prevent some health concerns. However, if you drink too much wine you will end up with a bad headache in the morning. You may also have other health issues that are affected in a negative way by drinking alcohol.

People have been drinking alcohol since ancient times. There is also a history of debate about whether alcohol is good for you or bad for you. This debate has no easy resolution. Alcohol can act as a poison or as a tonic, and it can affect the body in many different ways. This lesson will examine some possible health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, as well as how to weigh these health benefits against possible health risks.

Benefits

One of the most publicized benefits of moderate alcohol consumption is its association with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. This means that moderate alcohol consumption can potentially reduce a person's risk for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. There are two reasons for this. First, moderate amounts of alcohol consumption may help raise the levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL are associated with greater protection against heart disease.

Second, moderate alcohol consumption has also been linked to a reduced risk of blood clot formation. Blood clots can block arteries and are the cause of many heart attacks and strokes.

The possible benefits of moderate drinking aren't limited to cardiovascular disease. A drink before a meal can improve digestion and studies suggest that gallstones and type 2 diabetes are less likely to occur in moderate drinkers than in non-drinkers.

Social and psychological effects related to moderate alcohol consumption could also be considered beneficial. An alcoholic drink can help a person unwind after a stressful day, and an occasional drink with friends can have social benefits. These effects may contribute to a person's overall sense of well-being.

It is important to note that all of the health benefits we have discussed are related to moderate alcohol consumption. For the purposes of this lesson, this means approximately one alcoholic drink per day. There is little doubt that we would have fewer physical and mental health issues if every person who drinks alcohol limited their consumption to a single drink a day.

Balancing Risks

Alcohol affects the body in a complex number of ways, and the people who drink it are just as complex. Each person faces a different spectrum of benefits and risks because each person has unique personal histories, family histories, and health histories. Whether or not a person should drink alcohol for health reasons requires a careful balancing of these benefits and risks.

One important risk to consider is the ability to stop at one drink. If you have a history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism in your family, drinking alcohol comes with a substantial risk for alcoholism.

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