Can Alcohol Be Good for You?

A new study has revealed that women who have three alcoholic drinks a week, for at least ten years, can actually halve their chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The study, which has been published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. According to the results, the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women with an alcohol consumption of over three alcoholic drinks per week, for a minimum period of 10 years, is 50% lower than that of women who drink no alcohol. The researchers discovered women who reported drinking over three glasses of alcohol per week in 1987 and 1997 had a 52% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, after adjusting for variables, which included age, smoking and dietary habits, compared with those who never consumed alcohol. These findings seem to be the latest in a growing body of evidence that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol in the long term, presents no harm and can actually protect against a number of chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. So what alcohol is good for you? Here we look at the myths and the evidence that surrounds drinking.

Guinness

The advertisers of Guinness actually used the slogan that ‘Guinness is good for you’ but is it? Researchers at the University of Wisconsin suggest that it may work as well as a low dose of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. The Wisconsin scientists gave Guinness to dogs who had narrowed arteries and found that Guinness worked as well as aspirin in preventing clots forming. This is because they decrease harmful cholesterol gathering on the artery walls. Guinness contains antioxidant compounds that the researchers believe are responsible for the health benefits. The researchers addressed a convention of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, and advised that the best way to get health benefits from a pint of Guinness was to imbibe it meal times.

Red Wine

There is an observation called the ‘French paradox’ in which although the French eat a diet high in saturated fats, they experience low levels of coronary heart disease. It is thought that this is due to their consumption of red wine, being a prominent component to French culinary cuisine. Red wine has other health benefits as it contains a compound called resveratrol, found in red grape skins and this may prevent fat accumulation and reduce insulin resistance, which lowers the risk of diabetes. Resveratrol also prevents blood clotting and plaque formation in arteries while improving vascular function. But that’s not all resveratrol has done. Studies have shown this molecule can reduce tumor incidence by targeting different stages in cancer development. There are also bio-active chemicals which are only found in red wine which are flavanoids and polyphenols which act as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants to prevent harmful cellular damage.

Cider

It has been shown that cider contains the same levels of antioxidants as red wine, according to Dr Caroline Walker of the Brewing Research International, who commented, “A diet rich in antioxidants may help to protect against disease.” And a diet that contains plenty of antioxidants is beneficial as nutritionists recommend that people should try and include food and drink that feature more of them. Research has suggested, by the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, that the antioxidants found in cider are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, which further enhances their benefits. Antioxidants are important in reducing the amount of free radicals in the body and work to prevent the types of celluar damage that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Whisky

Did you know that whisky contains significantly higher levels of a powerful antioxidant that kills cancer cells? Dr. Jim Swan, an independent consultant to the worldwide drinks industry, tells us that, “There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine. By contrast, very little has been said about malt whisky distillery science. However, research has shown that there are even greater health benefits to people who drink single malt whiskies. Why? Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine.” Ellagic acid is a highly effective antioxidant that targets free radicals and can actually absorbs these rogue cells that occur in the body. As previously stated, free radicals can break down the DNA structure of our existing cells, which then leads to the risk of the body making replacement rogue cancer cells.

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