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 and characters drinking in the movies or television shows. 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.

Your First Drink

Everyone remembers when they had their first drink, even though it’s legally 21 years of age, the law. Hardly anyone waits that long. Think about it; you probably stole a few beers from a neighbor’s fridge when you played with your friends as a kid, or you may have snuck a bit of wine at a family wedding. 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 upright? People tend to laugh off the first time they get “wasted.”

Those College Binge Drinking Days

As you age, you have to drink like an adult once you get through those hard-drinking college days where there is a frat party every weekend on campus. It is where moderation comes in. Oscar Wilde once said, “Moderation is fatal; 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 that bad for you? How do you practice the right degree of moderation to live a healthy lifestyle and be your own health hero?

Drinking Can Be Beneficial

Dr. Nandi is a practicing physician, an international speaker on health issues, and a collaborator with the World Health Organization. His main area of specialty is 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 proper moderation, alcohol can even benefit the body. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. It is hard to believe that it is that powerful of a beverage, but it does have a positive side when used correctly.

Defining Moderation

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 the kids have been on you all day for moms, so at 5:00 in the evening, you crack open a bottle of wine and end up drinking the whole bottle. Preventing that isn’t easy. Having a few beers with friends might escalate into a night of shots and beers. Way more than just the two measly beers the Mayo Clinic recommends.

So What Happens When You Go Overboard?

“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 raises your risk of developing a wide range of dangerous illnesses. As a result, you must be open and honest about your alcohol intake with both yourself and your doctor. 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 had increased 17% since 2005.

The Popularity Factor of Drinking

Drinking has become popular due to various factors, including the current socio-economic climate, availability, and 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.

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