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One Drink or Two?
I just read a very interesting study on alcohol and the potential health benefits. The study was in the February issue of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology. They studied the effects of red wine or other alcohol in varying amounts.
They found that the results were the same, regardless of whether people drank red wine or another alcoholic beverage. The potential health benefits are found in the ethanol (alcohol), not just the antioxidants of the red wine. Good news for people who enjoy a beer or mixed drink instead of wine. Alcohol has an effect similar to taking an aspirin every day in the blood thinning aspect.
The other interesting finding was that there was a big difference between the effect of one drink vs two drinks per day. People who drank one drink per day had blood vessels that were more “relaxed” or dilated, which reduced the amount of work the heart had to do. But, after two drinks, the heart rate, amount of blood pumped out of the heart, and action of the sympathetic nervous system all increased. At the same time, the ability of the blood vessels to expand in response to an increase in blood flow diminished. This counteracted the beneficial effect of one drink of red wine or alcohol.
I usually recommend following the moderation principle for alcohol intake, which is basically one drink for women or two drinks per day for men. One drink consists of 5 oz wine, 12 oz beer, or 1.5 oz liquor (80-proof). However, this research may make some rethink whether or not to stop after just one drink.
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