Want to Be Fit in Middle Age? Moderate Drinking Can Help

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

There is a lot of mixed information out there regarding how healthy — or unhealthy — alcohol is for your body. Scientists have found that heavy drinking is associated with a wide variety of health risks, including: anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure, nerve damage, and pancreatitis.

What’s more, we recently shared the findings of a survey in which scientists looked at middle-age American adults to find that alcohol consumption and memory impairment are correlated. The scientists, who published their findings in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, asked their subjects questions about whether they felt the need to cut down their drinking, if have they been annoyed by critiques of their alcohol intake, if have they felt bad about drinking, and if they have ever had a drink to get rid of a hangover.

“We already know there is an association between dementia risk and levels of current alcohol consumption — that understanding is based on asking older people how much they drink and then observing whether they develop problems,” said lead researcher Dr. Iain Lang to the Mail Online. “But this is only one part of the puzzle and we know little about the consequences of alcohol consumption earlier in life.”

But drinking a healthy amount of alcohol can be associated with health benefits, according to the findings of a new study from University College London. In this study, the researchers analyzed the drinking habits of almost 30,000 subjects between the ages of 45 and 69. The scientists found that those who drank on a weekly basis were more physically fit than their peers who did not.

Specifically, those who drank four to six time a week had less trouble walking, dressing, eating, and reaching. What’s more, those in worst physical condition were the ones who did not consume alcohol. The study, published in the journal Age and Ageing, excluded former alcoholics from the survey.

“Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with physical limitations in ageing populations,” wrote the authors of the study. “Non-drinkers had the highest odds of physical limitations, but no increased odds were found in the heaviest drinking group. After excluding former drinkers, the results are consistent with a small protective effect for physical limitations.”

A study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism last year found that a glass of wine a day, in old age, can keep your mind sharp. The long-term study found that 80 percent of elderly people benefit from a daily drink.

“Light and moderate alcohol consumption during late life was associated with greater decline in learning and memory among APOE e4 carriers,” wrote the authors of the study. “Whereas light and moderate alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in learning and memory among non-APOE e4 carriers.”

Other benefits of drinking alcohol is the reduced risk of developing heart disease, reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (where the arteries in your brain become blocked) and reducing your risk of diabetes and blood pressure. But the key to reaping the benefits of alcohol is to drink in moderation. What qualifies as moderate alcohol consumption? According to the Mayo Clinic, for women (of all ages) and men over the age of 65, it means one drink a day. And for men younger than 65, it means up to two drinks a day.

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