Alcohol plays a prevalent role in many cultures, with many of us toasting to big life moments, enjoying happy hours with coworkers or friends, or simply indulging in a few drinks after a long, stressful day.
Of course, health experts have long cautioned against binge drinkingwhich roughly equates to consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours. If you've ever overindulged in your favorite drinks, you know that it typically doesn't feel great the next day, and repeated alcohol abuse can impact your mental and physical health.
But research has also shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can actually be beneficial for your health in some surprising ways. Here are some of the most interesting ways drinking in moderation can benefit you, so long as you consume it safely and responsibly.
It's true that drinking to excess can lead to illness and disease, including several types of cancerbrain damage, and liver damage, and it can even shorten your life span.
Drinking in pub with friends is good for you
But drinking moderately might actually help you live longer, according to a study conducted by three universities in Spain. Similarly, a study, published in the journal PLOS Medicinehas found that people who drink in moderation may be less likely to die early than those who stay away from booze altogether.
Too much alcohol can cause serious problems for your heart healthbut several studies have shown that enjoying a few drinks a week may reduce heart failure risk.
A study found that light to moderate alcohol consumption "is associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke," as well as a reduction in vascular risk in middle-aged people in particular. A study found that "moderate drinkers are at lower risk for the most common form of heart diseasecoronary artery disease than are either heavier drinkers or abstainers," due to the "protective effects" of alcohol on the heart linked to blood chemistry and "the prevention of clot formation in arteries that deliver blood to the heart muscle," leading to a lower risk of coronary disease.
Another study completed between and found that the risk of coronary disease and stroke in women was particularly low in those that reported moderate alcohol use among a sample of 87, female nurses between the ages of 34 and Though these findings are promising for those who already have a healthy relationship with alcohol, it's also important to note that adopting overall healthy lifestyle habits is the surest way to protect your heart.
A analysis published in the journal Diabetes Care noted a "highly ificant" reduced risk of type 2 diabetes among moderate alcohol drinkers than heavy drinkers and abstainers, compiling data from 15 different studies, linking healthy lifestyle habits with those who report moderate alcohol use. A study conducted by an Italian fertility clinic and published in the journal Andrology showed that male fertility was highest among participants who consumed four to seven drinks per week compared to those that drank between one and three alcoholic beverages or more than eight.
The sample size was men, so it was a relatively small pool, but it seems to be another reason to stick to a drink per day or so if you're hoping for optimal fertility. Though too much alcohol can worsen cold symptoms by dehydrating you and potentially interacting with cold medicines, it seems that moderate drinking can help prevent you from catching a cold in the first place. In a study by the department of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption led to a decrease in common cold cases among people who don't smoke.
Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia," said Edward J. Neafsey, co-author of the study, told Science Daily. Capping your drinks to two per day might reduce your risk of gallstones by one-third, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.
Your health! the benefits of social drinking
The study found that participants who reported consuming two drinks per day had a one-third reduction in their risk of developing gallstones. The finding was further supported by a study conducted by researchers at the School of Public Health at Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, who found "alcohol consumption is associated with ificantly decreased risk of gallstone disease.
As for how this happens, Segal told Insider that "consuming moderate amounts of alcohol does help in the production of bile, which keeps gallstones from fully forming. People lose bone mass or density naturally as they agewhich can lead to osteoporosisa disorder in which the bones become fragile or weakened.
This is particularly common in postmenopausal women, who are more susceptible to bone disorders due to their naturally smaller bones and hormone changes after menopause.
Social drinking ‘good for your health’
But a study published in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society showed that moderate alcohol intake can actually slow down bone loss in women after menopause, potentially leading to a lower risk of developing bone disorders like osteoporosis. A study published in the journal Rheumatology showed that people who don't drink are almost four times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis than those who have at least one drink three times per week. Researchers said that's likely due to alcohol's anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent ts from aching and swelling if drinking is in moderation.
Researchers also found that people with arthritis who drink alcohol in moderation have less severe symptoms, though they noted that heavy drinking can be damaging to those who already suffer from arthritis, as it can exacerbate symptoms and interact with medications.
Believe it or not, beer actually has a few nutritional benefits that you can take advantage of if you drink in moderation. By enjoying beer moderatelyyou'll enjoy the vitamins, minerals, and proteins it contains. Of course, a pint of beer shouldn't take the place of your daily multivitamin, but the occasional drink can be part of an overall balanced diet and lifestyle without impacting your health in a negative way.
While there are many physical benefits to drinking in moderation, there are also psychological benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
Alcohol: balancing risks and benefits
One study found that those who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol reported an increase in happiness and "pleasant and carefree feelings. Though your mental and physical health with respect to alcohol is best discussed with your doctor, the connection between heavy alcohol use and depression is well known, and should not be taken lightly. If you're able to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol and not rely on it as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression, you might find a healthy balance between moderate drinking and your mental health.
Check in with your doctor to ensure that alcohol is playing a safe and responsible role in your lifestyle. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Get the Insider App. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation.
11 health benefits that have been linked to drinking alcohol in moderation
Health experts have long cautioned against binge drinking. But drinking alcohol in moderation can actually provide some health benefits, various studies have suggested over the years.
Some health benefits that have been linked to drinking in moderation include a longer life, a lower risk of heart disease, and improved mental health. Visit Insider's home for more stories. Moderate alcohol consumption can lead to a longer life. It might also reduce your risk of heart failure.
You might have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Moderate drinking might help with male fertility.
Drinking in moderation can help prevent the common cold. You might decrease your chances of dementia. There might also be a reduced risk of gallstones. Postmenopausal women might experience bone health benefits from moderate alcohol use. You might also be less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
The useful social benefits of drinking wines
By drinking moderately, you can reap the nutritional benefits offered by wine and beer. You might feel improvements in your mental health, too. Wine Alcohol.