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The Healthy Side of Alcohol

We’ve recently come across an interesting piece of news: Lemmy, Motörhead’s front man, British heavy metal god and, at 69, living and kicking proof that sex & drugs & rock & roll could actually count for a lifestyle, announced that he’s switched from whiskey to vodka – for health reasons. Now, considering the man’s severe umlaut abüse and his belief that he’s indestructible, we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Nevertheless, he did get us into a bit of research on the health benefits of alcohol.

Before anything. We’re talking healthy folks and moderation. Moderation in this case is a word as blurry as watered down absinthe – it depends on your size, your metabolism, your health and so on. But you sure know by now what it means. The research is also muddled: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That being said, here’s what some of the science says:

Red wine – this one’s easy, we all know about the French and their glass a day. Scientists have apparently narrowed its magic down to polyphenols, antioxidants occurring in the grape skin, which protect the lining of the heart’s blood vessels. Resveratrol is another naturally occurring substance that prevents damage to blood vessels, blood clotting and bad cholesterol.

White wine – ain’t that bad either, even though it lacks most of the good stuff in the grape skin. It helps with controlling the growth of bacteria involved in tooth decay and sore throats.

Gin – juniper berries, which give gin its unique love or hate quality, have diuretic properties and have been shown to decrease blood-sugar levels in rats. (Lucky gin loving rats!) In humans, the benefits might not be as spectacular.

Dark beer – a pint will give you a healthy dose of flavonoid antioxidants, which work as anti-inflammatories. The darker, the better.

All other beers – might also be sort of good for you. They are a source of silicone, which can contribute to bone growth and development. Useful, if you’re old enough to be drinking and still got some bone growing to do.

Alcohol distilled in copper stills – brandy, for instance, might be good for you. The higher the quality, the better.

Vodka – Lemmy’s new weapon of choice might help with lowering blood pressure, soothing common digestive disorders, and reducing stress even better than a glass of red. Its strong point though is pureness: vodka contains fewer congeners – chemical byproducts of the fermentation process –, which lend color and flavor to other liquors, with the price of hangovers.

Whiskey – boasts of color and flavor, but that’s a good thing. When it ages in oak barrels, whiskey apparently absorbs compounds that protect our healthy cells. Also, a team of Australian researchers found that a daily shot of whiskey could provide the same antioxidant benefits as the recommended dose of Vitamin C. And some Scots (that’s unexpected) seem to have found ellagic acid in whiskey, which is said to absorb rogue cells.

Water – is alcohol’s best companion, whichever you prefer. Alcohol inhibits the production of vasopressin, aka the antidiuretic hormone, a brain chemical that regulates the kidneys’ well functioning. Without it, they send water directly to the bladder instead of absorbing it into the body – which explains the frequent trips to the bathroom after urinating for the first time while drinking.

And remember: read and drink responsibly, and keep the umlaut dots on your vowels straight

Posted by Jason Stone on


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