Temporarily Quitting Alcohol Brings Health Benefits

“DRY January”, for many a welcome period of abstinence after the excesses of the holiday season, could be more than a rest for body and soul. New Scientist staff have generated the first evidence that giving up alcohol for a month might actually be good for you, at least in the short term.

Many people who drink alcohol choose to give up for short periods, but there is no scientific evidence that this has any health benefits. So we teamed up with Rajiv Jalan at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School (UCLMS) to investigate.

Source: Our Liver Vacation: Is a Dry January Really Worth It?

The study is small and informal, but it fits with what we know about how alcohol works on our bodies. Rather than quitting for a month and then going back on your usual schedule, it’s probably better to use this as a lesson in how easy it is to reverse some of the effects of alcohol.

A High-Protein Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

A new study has found that eating high-levels of certain proteins found in meat and plant-based foods can lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness leading to better heart health. According to researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), eating foods rich in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could be good for your heart.

Source: Load Up! A High-Protein Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

The nice part is the next paragraph details that protein can be sourced from various places, not just meat.  There’s a very good reason to not source protein from red meat: Study: Large Red Meat Consumption Triggers Immune Response, Leading to Cancer.  Also, a good article on the 1 lb to 1 gram of protein myth with relation to exercise.

Don’t Blame the Beer Goggles – They Might be a Myth

The existence of “beer goggles”—the tendency to find fellow drinkers growing more attractive as you drink more—is in dispute. A study conducted in a naturalistic setting (that is, a pub), found that increased alcohol consumption did not boost attractiveness ratings.

Source: Don’t blame the beer goggles—they might be a myth

Alcohol does blurs your vision though, and combined with the general poor lighting in most pubs and the fact most people get dressed up when they go out, there is the scenario (not tested in this study) where someone can appear attractive that night, and not until the cold light of day the next morning when

  1. your vision has improved,
  2. it’s daylight
  3. they aren’t dressed up and dolled up anymore

…that you realise that they aren’t especially attractive. At that point, it is easier to claim ‘beer goggles’ than ‘I just wasn’t in a state or situation to properly assess their attractiveness’.

This is of course only relevant if your friends saw you.  If they didn’t, then your partner for the night was a supermodel regardless who will totally call you back unless she doesn’t and then that’s only because she got your number wrong in her phone and she’ll be totally devastated about it….

Study: Booze Consumption Changes Dramatically Over A Person’s Lifetime

For the average man, alcohol consumption peaks at age 25 at around 13 drinks per week according to the study, which consolidated data from 9 longitudinal studies in the U.K. to derive the chart of lifetime consumption above. Women drank considerably less than men, peaking at a little less than 4 drinks per week.

For anyone who’s familiar with substance use trends, these numbers won’t come as a huge surprise. We know that use of all drugs — alcohol included — peaks in the early 20s, and that generally speaking men are more enthusiastic users than women. But the researchers discovered some interesting findings at the margins of the data.

Source: The average number of drinks men and women have at every age, charted

No, these researchers did not monitor the lifelong drinking habits of one big cohort of people for the better part of a century. What they did was combine some pretty big data sets, all of which were amassed over extended periods of time, and perform some fancy statistical analyses.  And the analyzed studies are from the U.K. – these findings don’t generalize perfectly to an American drinking context.

This is a great case where mean vs. median matters a lot.

Do You Have the Genotype That Makes Moderate Alcohol Consumption Heart Healthy?

So much for resveratrol?

Moderate alcohol consumption has widely been heralded as beneficial at reducing the risks of coronary heart disease. A new study from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg suggests that this benefit only exists in a small portion of the population. The research was published in the journal Alcohol. Moderate alcohol intake has been defined in the study as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Source: Only A Fraction Of The Population Has The Genotype That Makes Moderate Alcohol Consumption Heart Healthy

This is not a great article and its conclusions have been over-generalized to the point where they no longer resemble the original findings. It is safe to ignore this paper and to continue to trust the many previous studies that actually demonstrate the correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced mortality.

Reminder: Alcohol is addictive, laden with empty calories, and socially complex. Be careful™.

Study: We Hit the Bottle Harder on Gym Days

First we sweat, and then we swig: A new Northwestern Medicine study published in the journal Health Psychology finds that people tend to drink more alcohol on days they’ve exercised.

The study looked at 150 adults between the ages of 18-89 who used a smartphone app to record how much they exercised each day — and how much alcohol they drank for three weeks at different points of the year.

Source: We Drink More Alcohol When We Exercise