Alcohol drinking with less risk

Health

Alcohol drinking with less risk

Fuelling Your Body

BY FITZ-GEORGE RATTRAY

Sunday, December 22, 2019

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ALCOHOL consumption is older than recorded history, but it has never been more prevalent, convenient or voluminous.

Today, for one-third of humankind, alcohol is an integral part of celebrations, holidays and even everyday living. If you fall within this group, any festivity would not be the same without alcohol.

The goal, however, should be alcohol consumption and enjoyment without paying with your life.

HOW IS ALCOHOL A HEALTH RISK?

The facts, however overlooked, speak for themselves:

• Alcohol is the number one risk factor for diseases and death around the world, and, according to one study published August 23, 2018 in The Lancet, is responsible for 10 per cent of all deaths;

• Alcohol-related deaths include several types of cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, weight-related illnesses, and infectious diseases, traffic deaths, as well as other fatal accidents;

• None of this should be surprising, considering all alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, which over time, and at a certain rate of ingestion, is toxic to humans;

• Alcohol is the ultimate empty calorie, at seven calories per gram — more than sugar — and it is of low thermic effect, meaning, it takes very little metabolic effort to absorb into your system;

• These excess calories are stored as visceral fat (“beer belly” fat, stored in you liver and around other organs); what is more, because of the nature of alcohol metabolism in the body, it carries significantly higher health risks than subcutaneous fat. Essentially alcohol makes you fat even if you can't see it, and if you have weight issues it will keep you fat, or make you even fatter.

DOESN'T ALCOHOL HAVE SOME HEALTH BENEFITS?

Over the years, early research papers stated benefits of alcohol consumption. Many have suggested that at low levels of consumption, aged red wine, for example, in a wooden barrel, may reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There is usually no mention of the cancers and other alcohol-related deaths. Subsequently, however, more than 1,000 papers have been published debunking them.

Interestingly, one particular study of over half-million drinkers, which was published on April 14, 2018 in The Lancet, supported alcohol being beneficial in lowering heart disease, also found that even one drink a day could shorten life expectancy.

The active compounds, which provide the health benefits found in many alcoholic beverages, can be found in natural foods. The alcohol was processed from grapes, sugar cane and others, and if indeed these benefits are your goals, simply have these foods without the health risks of alcohol.

Do not ever drink with the belief that alcohol is good for you in any way. The risks greatly outweigh any potential benefit, and thinking otherwise is akin to standing on the roof of a moving car in traffic because it is a great way to dry your hair — it may be true but the risks are just too great.

THE SECOND SAFEST WAY TO DRINK

The safest way to drink is to not drink at all.

The study published in The Lancet on August 23, 2018 looked at 195 global locations, from 1990-2016 and found that the only safe level of alcohol consumption is none at all. However, if you do decide to drink, here are a few facts that can help you drink with the least risk possible.

• Learn what a unit of alcohol is, it varies from beverage to beverage.

• Have a plan and stick with it.

• Have two glasses or less at each occasion

• Know that one glass per day carries risks.

• Avoid the high-calorie mixed drinks or have them very infrequently.

• Hydrate, drink water before, between and after alcoholic beverages.

• Sip slowly, take your time, make it last longer.

• Choose clearer lower-calorie drinks (under 200 calories) such as: Vodka drinks or straight vodka; tequila; mojito (no syrup); martini; rum and diet coke; light beer; champagne; gin and tonic; red wine (dryer versions).

• After your allotment of alcohol, you may not want to stand out as the only one not drinking, so switch to clear non-alcoholic drinking, water with a lemon, tonic water, carbonated water, et cetera.

If you are having trouble adjusting your intake, look deeper into your habits, you may be dealing with an alcoholic habituation or addiction. It is far more common than believed and is well worth the effort to seek support.

Enjoy your celebrations, and as always, do so safely and responsibly. Remember, you are not only protecting yourself but the lives of others as well.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 876-863- 5923, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org.


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