To drink or not to drink?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Is drinking alcohol good for you? Recommendations from the medical community include drinking two glasses of red wine per day for men and one each day for women. Dry red wine is the drink of choice due to the natural content of resveratrol, other plant nutrients and low sugar. Other choices of alcohol are less clear in their benefit and if you mix with sugary juices the benefit drops away altogether. Is red wine good for the heart?


The natural resveratrol is a strong antioxidant and can powerfully benefit the cardiovascular system. You can get resveratrol in supplements with one capsule containing more than you'd find in a bottle (or multiple bottles) of wine. So we know that part is beneficial and true but what about the alcohol itself?


Clearly, if there is difficulty moderating your drink or if there is liver trouble then the answer is no, alcohol is not good for you, your family or the community. The question of benefit becomes less clear as you find out more about what it does in the body. Surprisingly, there is a connection between cholesterol levels and alcohol in many people. I had a blood test done called a vertical auto profile (VAP) that looks at the makeup of cholesterol. My regular cholesterol test was very good matching all of the criteria doctors use for heart health. But the regular cholesterol test isn't the best measure for those on statin drugs like Lipitor or for those who worry about heart attack. Turns out even with an excellent regular cholesterol test, the VAP test showed I was at high risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that can cause heart attack. Turns out the type of cholesterol (triglycerides) I naturally produce are the culprits. I wouldn't have known this without having done the VAP blood test which is easy to get done and not expensive.


Where does alcohol come into play? Alcohol quickly produces large amounts of triglycerides. My body naturally produces the very bad type as determined by the VAP. So even two glasses of red wine each day is not good for me. I've increased my Red Yeast Rice (lowers cholesterol), policosanol and keep track of my steps on a FitBit. Alcohol is only for special occasions like tastings and relaxation now in my life. I get my resveratrol through supplements. I want to be around as long as I can to enjoy this beautiful part of the world with my family and friends. I hope you do, too.

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