Booze. How much is too much?
This posting came about after reading an entertaining article called “A life well lived includes the luxury of a perfectly poured cocktail” by Christine Lennon. Of course it attracted my attention. I like to live well.
Lennon quit her daily drinking (although never stating it was a problem) when she was pregnant with twins. But then when they got a bit older & she knew they were asleep she transformed from mommy into mixologist. How better a way to handle twins or kids in general I thought. Lennon says…
“I love a Dark & Stormy in the summer, a crisp white wine after the beach, a glass of Tempranillo when there’s a steak on the grill and, as the holidays approach, a good whiskey on the rocks. I rarely drink in daylight, unless the occasion calls for it, or it’s summer, or it’s someone’s birthday (and hey, isn’t it always someone’s birthday?). I only have one, most of the time, unless I’m out, or in with company, or it’s Christmas, or I just had an ass-kicking kind of day. I’m not going to sugar coat it: A single drink before dinner, while I’m making dinner, or after dinner makes me a happier person. And frankly, a reposado tequila on the rocks with lime makes me a superhero. I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve seen that up close, and I know that what I’m doing bears little resemblance. But that doesn’t keep me from wondering if I’m drifting into some kind of undefined, gray area of casual dependency. Even my delightfully childless friends who don’t have to face a five-year-old at 6 A.M. are beginning to question if drinking is the best idea: Is it compromising their performance at work, their future as a size 6, the youth of their skin? What are the long-term effects of this indulgence?
“It’s hard to say with any certainty how much is too much, because each individual metabolizes alcohol differently,” says New York internist Frank Lipman, a specialist in integrative medicine. Depending on which research you read, moderate drinking may lower cholesterol levels, sink blood pressure, lower your risk of stroke, and increase bone density post-menopause.
For women, moderate means up to one drink per day; low-risk drinking, meaning the person imbibing is less likely to develop alcohol dependency, can be categorized by no more than three drinks in one day, and no more than seven in one week. The bad news: Studies show that regular drinking is linked to breast cancer because alcohol can tinker, unfavourably, with estrogen levels (with the exceptiion of tequila). Alcohol can also inhibit your absorption of nutrients. One study suggests that heavy drinking rewires brain circuitry, making people more sensitive to stress.
So are there ways to drink healthily and well? Hopefully rumors still circulate about an active ingredient in milk thistle, though proof remains elusive. “We know that it supports liver function, and the liver metabolizes alcohol. So it couldn’t hurt,” says Lipman, who also advises drinking water in between cocktails and eating beforehand. “And, anecdotally, I’ve found that evening primrose oil capsules help, both to coat the stomach and to soothe the liver.”
Finally this from Lennon: “In defense of my drinking, it’s my last remaining vice, or at least my last remaining regular vice, or my last remaining regular vice suitable for print. For the moment, I don’t see any reason to stop. I have a lot to celebrate, a lot of people who want to celebrate with me, and the number of a reliable car programmed into my phone. And if my bones are denser when I’m a sassy old lady as a result of all this celebrating, I’ll drink to that.”