Longevity & Alcohol
The jury is still out on this one, but the balance of the evidence appears to be on the side of 'a little of what you fancy is good for you'. In other words, some alcohol increased longevity, and is associated with longer life more strongly than are avoiding alcohol completely or excessive alcohol consumption.

It seems that alcohol does not have any impact on the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (that's bleeding in the brain), and that the optimal amount is 1 to 4 drinks a week. How big is a drink, you ask? Well they are usually measured in 'units of alcohol'. For example, a standard bottle of wine is 750 ml and at 12% alcohol content each of the six standard (125ml) glasses contains about 1.5 units of alcohol. 'Heavy' drinking is often defined as 3 or more standard drinks per day – that is, about 4.5 units of alcohol.

Most of us have heard of cirrhosis of the liver – that's a liver disease associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Researchers over the past four decades have investigated this question and recently investigators have proposed that cirrhosis mortality is more strongly associated with consumption of spirits than with other alcoholic beverages. However, there are other health conditions associated with excessive drinking, too, and individuals may be more, or less, susceptible to these. They all act to reduce longevity.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has reported that the greatest health and longevity benefits result from one to two drinks per day. In other words, moderate drinkers live longer than both abstainers and 'over-consumers'. This finding is backed up by research in other countries, too.

There is other research which suggests that red wine has ingredients which are beneficial to us.

So, we've taken a look at the research, but the obvious question is: Why do we put this chemical, ethanol, into our bodies? Doesn't this run against the whole idea of a food and drink regime which is pure and clean, avoiding poisons? It's a good question, but it is important to remember that most of what we take in through our mouths is potentially fatal if taken to excess. If someone drinks excessive quantities of water, then the electrolytes in the body become diluted. Then, the minute electrical signals, which the brain uses to control muscles, may misfire. Some people have had heart attacks as a result.

The other side is that alcohol is a chemical produced when sugars in food ferment. Fallen apples in an orchard will eventually develop an alcoholic content as they decay. You may have seen pictures of grizzly bears holding their heads after finding such fruit. That's where the saying 'like a bear with a sore head' comes from. So, alcohol (ethanol) is natural and in our environment, and has been a part of our diet for thousands of years.

Today, though, we see all sorts of additives put into our drinks – for example sulfites into wine. Always read the label and look for organic wines. Spirits may be less adulterated, but as the research shows, they have a higher association with cirrhosis of the liver. Moderation is the word – drink wisely to enhance your longevity health. If you cannot control it, then seek help and stop. Always consult your physician.  
Kasia Wojsiat is a respected chiropractor in nearby Los Gatos. She embraces using preventative medicine and natural products in her practice. Please send her an email if you have any questions pertaining to longevity and health.
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