When Montgomery asserted to Churchill that he neither drank nor smoked and was one hundred percent fit, Churchill fired back, ‘I both drink and smoke and am two hundred percent fit.’ Whether you agree with him or not, despite all the strain he put himself through, he died at the ripe old age of 90. He must have been doing something right.
While mimicking Britain’s wartime PM’s alleged consumption of alcohol is probably not the best thing about him we could mimic, the truth is that many studies have shown that the moderate use of drink can go some way in prolonging life.
Various studies have shown that moderate drinkers, which is usually defined as someone who may enjoy one to three drinks per day, have lower mortality rates than those who live a life of abstinence. It’s fairly well known that red wine has its benefits, particularly in the heart and circulation department.
Another interesting angle on the benefits of moderate drinking is that it tends to make an individual more sociable. So what? Well, sociability has been shown time and again to play a vital role our well being, and by extension our health.
Other benefits may include reduced stress levels after a hectic day at work for example. Stress, of course, brings with it all sorts of concomitant woes, and a moderate amount of drink can help offset this. It must be stressed though we are talking about a moderate amount, and just what is a moderate amount isn’t always easy to define. Some have said 1 or perhaps 3 (maximum) standard drinks for men, and 1 or 2 for women.
One rather interesting study found that a tiny amount of alcohol doubled the life expectancy of a worm. Evidently half the genes a worm possesses have human counterparts which make them interesting case studies. It was found that a small amount of alcohol, the amount that would correspond to a tablespoon in a bathtub of water, had remarkably beneficial effects on the worm, For one thing, worms normally live around 15 days, but with the introduction of a tiny amount of ethanol (the alcohol we humans consume) life was prolonged to around 20 days, and in some case a staggering 40 days!
A word of warning, though. If they were introduced to higher concentrations of ethanol, then harmful neurological effects resulted and life was shortened. The study showed that even when such a small amount as 1 part in a volume 20,000 solution was used (an amount so small it really shouldn’t have made any difference at all), that even at this very low concentration, beneficial results to the worm’s longevity were noted.
Of course, all the implications of this experiment are far from conclusive, but it does seem to verify what is so often found in the case of humans, namely, moderate amounts of alcohol have beneficial results on the cardiovascular system and longevity. But again, the key lies in moderation. Anything beyond that, then any beneficial results are negated.
Additional to moderate drinking’s reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, it has also been found that those who enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol may be less likely to suffer from diabetes, arthritis, dementia such as Alzheimer’s, enlarged prostate, and certain forms of cancer.
The use of moderate alcohol consumption for medicinal reasons stretches right back through the centuries. Several references are made in the Old and New Testaments extolling its value when used moderately. The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association stated that “The lowest mortality occurs in those who consume one or two drinks per day.”
So it seems the key, as in most things in life, is moderation. If you enjoy a small drink, and the social aspect of being with good friends, could just prolong your days.