If I were to ask you for an example of a complex socioeconomic activity, would you think of getting a pint of beer at a pub? Probably not, which is a shame, because you would be spot on!
Let’s set the scene. You’re waiting for your date who is running late. It is only the second time that you’re going out and last time you noticed that they did not even have a look at the drinks’ menu. You thought about asking why, but you thought that it would be inappropriate. Maybe they’re on medication that shouldn’t be consumed with alcohol, or their religion doesn’t allow it. Did they have a migraine and they worried that alcohol was going to make it worse? Were they trying to stay sharp in order to entertain you with spirited conversation?
While all these questions come to mind, you’re getting more nervous waiting and you’re thinking that this could be easily fixed by a drink. Or not? Your doctor recently mentioned that you’re prediabetic and remembered something about alcoholic drinks and hypos (low blood sugar). Does this apply to prediabetics or only to diabetics? You clearly remember, though, your doctor telling you that you need to lose weight in order to bring your glucose levels down. Most of the drinks you like are on a calorie rich food and drink list you found online. Finally, this place is quite close to your workplace – what are your colleagues going to think if they see you drinking by yourself?
By now you certainly have a better idea why choosing to drink, or to abstain, is trickier than it looks. The question, however, remains: “to drink or not to drink?”.
What we know so far regarding any possible health benefits of alcohol is not much help. Moderate alcohol use in healthy adults is often praised, but we still do not have enough clinical evidence to support this. Most research is based on questionnaires that investigate current and past habits of the individuals related to their lifestyle (diet, exercise, caffeine, and alcohol). Achieving high accuracy with these results can be quite challenging, especially when the people participating need to recall details from years ago or they underestimate the true amount. These studies may indicate association, but not necessarily cause and result.
For instance, adults who engage in more social activities and enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol could be healthy, but we cannot be certain that alcohol has anything to do with making them healthier. Moreover, it is widely believed that the potential health benefits of alcohol wouldn’t make a compelling argument that one should begin drinking or increase their alcohol intake, because the risks are far greater. However, if you, or someone you know, drinks responsibly you can probably continue to do so. Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means limiting alcohol intake to 14 or less units a week.
And what could we possibly say about wine? Red wine has been famous for its health benefits against “bad” cholesterol. The polyphenols in wine could relax blood vessel walls and prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). As a result, they act against atherosclerosis – the formation of cholesterol-filled plaque on the inside of the arteries. A specific type of polyphenols are flavonoids that can be found in foods like blueberries, strawberries, apples, onions, dark chocolate, and tea. However, some polyphenols are specific to red wine.
White wine also contains polyphenols, but tend to be overlooked, since the amount is 10 times less compared to red. Some scientists are currently attempting to study the effects of dealcoholized wine. Hopefully, in the future we’ll have accurate knowledge of whether the polyphenols alone or the combination of them with alcohol provide the best results.
Reasons to avoid alcohol:
You wouldn’t want to tempt someone who should not be drinking for one or more of the above reasons or make them feel uncomfortable.
Alcohol and diabetes key points:
The relationship between alcohol and risk of type 2 diabetes can be complicated and this is one more reason why you should stay within the government guidelines for drinking alcohol.
Choose your drinks wisely:
There’s little to suggest that drinking alcohol can better our health. Drinking within the current government guidelines of 14 units a week can help prevent alcohol having a negative impact on our health.