Alcohol: Healthier Than You Might Think

Alcohol and humans share a long and complicated history. National Geographic reports that humans have created and used alcohol for at least 9,000 years. In modern society, alcohol is believed to be toxic. Mahatma Gandhi even went as far to say that “taking intoxicating liquors is almost like committing suicide, because a man or a woman who takes intoxicating drinks and gets mad, kills his or her soul, for the time being” and “I would rather have India reduced to a state of pauperism than have thousands of drunkards in our midst.” Additionally, he said, “I hold drink to be more damnable than thieving and perhaps even prostitution.” But was Gandhi right? Some modern folks agree with him. Bob Marley is quoted as saying “herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.” Why has alcohol developed such a bad reputation?

This bad reputation comes from valid scientific and historical research about the lives of those who drink heavily. Drinking heavily is, no doubt, a killer. It destroys families, friendships, bodies, and reputations. There is no highly regarded scientific evidence that drinking heavily is in any way healthy. There is indisputable evidence that drinking while pregnant harms developing fetuses. Despite all this, alcohol, when drunk in moderation, is healthy.

When looking at the positive effects of alcohol, wine stands out for multiple reasons. The first being that certain wines, mostly reds, have a high concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to eliminate “free radicals”, and thus, rid the body of possible cancer causing agents. Secondly, wine has a lower alcohol content than hard alcohol. Wines typically average 11.6 percent alcohol, compared to the 37% or higher for hard alcohol. For this reason, one is able to drink more wine than vodka, and therefore consume more antioxidants. But alcohol does not contain wine, wine contains alcohol; and the benefits of drinking alcohol are far more than the antioxidants found in wine.

Alcohol is good for you, good for me, and good for the economy. The “Alcoholic Beverages Market was valued at $1,344 billion in 2015, and is projected to reach $1,594 billion by 2022." In other words, the alcohol industry is huge, and that’s a good thing. It keeps us happy, healthy, and active. Those who cannot dance, drink alcohol, and suddenly, can dance. When those too shy to take risks associated with growing up are visited by the booze fairy, they suddenly become courageous. Alcohol simultaneously, calms and hypes its users. From a scientific standpoint, moderate alcohol consumption equates to “25-40% reduction in risk” from cardiovascular death. It also gives users “a 30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes….with moderate drinking”. The healthier we are, the more we work. And the more we work, the more money we earn; nobody loses when we are healthy and working.

As writers from the Harvard School for Public Health said, “It’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference lies mostly in the dose.”