Studies report that consuming alcohol in moderate quantities may be good for your health. Don’t use this as an excuse to start drinking alcohol or to continue it if you have stopped. Don’t mistake moderate alcohol consumption for social drinking either because they are not the same. With alcohol being associated with illnesses and obesity, this may sound controversial and may raise questions for a lot of people.
Before getting into the details of how alcohol in moderation can benefit your body, let’s find out what moderate alcohol consumption really means.
What Is Moderate Drinking?
Defining alcohol in moderation may be tricky because my definition of “moderate” may not be the same as your definition. So, how do you decide what is moderate?
Well, the answer is simple. Moderate drinking is drinking alcohol in a manner that does not cause problems to either the drinker or the people around him. Although this sounds simple, it is always better to define moderation using numerical estimates just to be sure you don’t cross it. But, how is that possible when the effect of alcohol on one person is not the same on the other?
Despite all these complications, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have formulated a set of guidelines that may be able to define moderate drinking. Moderate drinking for most women is not more than one drink a day while, for most men, it is not more than two drinks per day. A standard drink is generally considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Each of these drinks mentioned contains 0.5 ounces or 12 grams of absolute alcohol.1
Certain groups of people are advised not to consume any alcohol at all. These include the following:
- Pregnant women or women trying to conceive
- Individuals who plan to drive or other activities that require attention and skill
- People taking medications that interact with alcohol
- Recovering alcoholics
- Individuals under the age of 21
Now, that you know what it means to drink alcohol in moderate quantities, let’s examine the study that reported its health benefit.
Drinking Alcohol Moderately May Improve Cognition
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego have reported that moderately drinking alcohol on a regular basis or at least five days a week may become a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle because it may help improve memory in the old age. However, the researchers also state that it is not a recommendation for people to drink alcohol or continue it if they already are.2 The study also states that these results are not applicable to excessive drinking and that long-term excessive alcohol consumption may even cause alcohol-related dementia.
Drinking alcohol in moderation has other benefits, too. In older adults, moderate drinking stimulates appetite, promotes regular bowel function, increases feelings of happiness and freedom, and decreases stress, tension, and depression.3
Now, knowing these benefits of drinking alcohol moderately may make you wonder if alcohol is necessary for improving your memory.
Is Alcohol Necessary To Improve Cognition?
The answer is a big, bold NO. Alcohol should not be considered a beverage to include in your diet to improve your memory in the long run. In fact, moderate drinking may become a habit and you may want to end up drinking more than just enough alcohol. We are only humans and if you don’t have self-control, you might just end up drinking more than what is required.
Instead, there a lot of foods you can choose to improve your memory and get that sharp brain. These include nuts like almonds, green leafy vegetables, fruits like berries, and fish oil. In addition to these foods, there are yoga poses and breathing exercises that can improve your memory and concentration.
So, alcohol is not the only way to boost your memory. But, it is good to keep in mind that it may not be that harmful if consumed in low or moderate doses.
|↑1||Moderate Drinking. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.|
|↑2||For white middle class, moderate drinking is linked to cognitive health in old age. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).|
|↑3||Dufour, Mary C., Loran Archer, and Enoch Gordis. “Alcohol and the elderly.” Clinics in geriatric medicine 8, no. 1 (1992): 127-141.|