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Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Alcohol is both tonic and poison. For long years the medical literature has been saying one thing or the other on the impact of alcohol in the body. A recent article has now assessed the health effects of beer, making some interesting observations. "In conclusion, short-term beer consumption ............ positively affects plasma lipid levels, plasma antioxidant and anticoagulant activities." Here is an easy-to-grasp overview of the health risks and benefits of alcohol. In brief, one can, first, say that red wine (which contains resveratrol, is good for you. Second, drinking benefits are inversely proportional to the volume of alcohol consumed. Third, daily alcohol consumption (in moderation, of course) is better than once or twice-a-week drinking. Four, folic acid may offset the detrimental effects of alcohol by reducing the level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is now known to be bad for the heart. According to some references, beer, being a source of vitamins, has benefits as part of a balanced diet (I know, laugh your beer-belly out at this one!), dieting (100 calories in a can of light beer), and halts the decline in mental functions with age. I know of some urologists who advise beer drinking to flush out small stones in the ureter. These folks also advise female patients to drink cranberry juice for preventing urinary infections, but I digress.
As to the esthetics of the palate, I am not qualified to comment. Most beers have tasted to me like the urine of a pregnant, jaundiced cow, and I have never dared waste precious foreign currency in fair lands by buying the ale in lieu of wine or spirits.
So, should a teetotaler start drinking to enjoy a better heart? This would be akin to a normal man taking Viagra to have better sex, or smoking cigars to save himself from Alzheimer's disease. I personally think that in order to live longer one should eat very little food, drink good wines, lead a boring life, laugh a lot, and have long walks, or long bouts of sex, whichever is cheaper and more easily available!!

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