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Alcohol is a prevalent part of our culture in the United States. Other than the fact that there is practically a bar on every other street corner, it’s ingrained in us at a young age that drinking is cool. It’s like the ultimate tool to be a part of the “in-crowd.” There are commercials advertising alcohol, characters drinking in the movies or television shows and the hype surrounding these beverages in their many forms is high. Whether it’s wine, beer, or hard liquor, alcohol in our society is everywhere, and practically everyone is taking a sip.
Everyone remembers when they had their first drink, even though according to the law it’s legally 21 years of age. Hardly anyone waits that long. Think about it, you probably stole a few beers from a neighbor’s fridge when you were playing with your friends as a kid. Or maybe snuck a bit of wine at a family wedding. There is also the trick of sneaking alcohol out of your parent’s liquor cabinet and replacing it with tea for the darker liquors or just plain water for the vodka. Just a part of growing up right? People tend to laugh off the first time they got “wasted.”
As you age though, once you get through those hard-drinking college days where there is a frat party every weekend on campus somewhere, you have to drink like an adult. This is hopefully where moderation comes in. Oscar Wilde once said, “Moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess.” Many people take this opinion of alcohol. Having a few beers after work is one thing, but drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels is another. So the question becomes: is alcohol really that bad for you? How do you practice the right degree of moderation to live a healthy lifestyle and to be your own health hero?
Dr. Nandi is a practicing physician, an international speaker on health issues and a collaborator with the Wodrld Health Organization. His main area of speciality in gastroenterology. So he truly understands how the body processes everything including alcohol. Most people tend to downplay how much they drink. If they choose to drink correctly in the right moderation, alcohol can even be beneficial to the body. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and even diabetes. Hard to believe that it is that powerful of a beverage, but it truly does have a positive side when used correctly.
According to the Mayo Clinic, they recommend that “moderation” means one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men. Of course, they aren’t saying that you HAVE to drink every day, they are just stating that if you do, these are the guidelines you should follow. The problem then becomes not overdoing it. You know the days where for moms the kids have been on you all day, so at 5:00 in the evening you crack open a bottle of wine and end up drinking the whole bottle. Preventing that is difficult. Plus, sometimes one or two beers with friends turns into shots and beers all night long. Way more than just the two measly beers the Mayo Clinic recommends.
“Heavy Drinking” as defined by the clinic is three or more drinks in a day, or more than seven drinks total in a week. That’s a pretty low count for most people who drink socially or like to have a relaxing time at home at the end of a long hard day. Excessive drinking ups your risk for a host of serious diseases. So, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your doctor about your consumption. Don’t be embarrassed if drinking for you is a part of your lifestyle. There are ways you can drink smarter, and less to get in that moderation spirit. Plus, you are in good company; NBC News reported recently that alcoholic beverage consumption has increased 17% since 2005.
The reasons why drinking has become popular is due to a variety of factors, including the current socioeconomic climate, availability and the fact that it’s widely accepted. Everyone drinks! So maybe we should give ourselves a break when it comes to alcohol. Feeling less bad about your drinking habits might make you more aware of how much you drink. Then if you need to, you can take steps to drink more moderately.