Introduction – Throughout the 10,000 or so years that humans have been drinking fermented beverages, they’ve also been arguing about their merits and demerits. The debate still simmers today, with a lively back-and-forth over whether alcohol is good for you or bad for you.
It’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference lies mostly in the dose. Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries.
In the U.S., alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal traffic accidents. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships.
Alcohol’s two-faced nature shouldn’t come as a surprise. The active ingredient in alcoholic beverages, a simple molecule called ethanol, affects the body in many different ways. It directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects levels of lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and insulin in the blood, as well as inflammation and coagulation.
It also alters mood, concentration, and coordination.
Is drinking alcohol is healthy?
Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol
- Alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short- and long-term health risks, including motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and various cancers (e.g., breast cancer).1
- The risk of these harms increases with the amount of alcohol you drink. For some conditions, like some cancers, the risk increases even at very low levels of alcohol consumption (less than 1 drink).2,3
- To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.4 The Guidelines also do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason and that if adults of legal drinking age choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.4
- Two in three adult drinkers report drinking above moderate levels at least once a month.5
The Guidelines note that some people should not drink alcohol at all, such as:
- If they are pregnant or might be pregnant.
- If they are younger than age 21.
- If they have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol.
- If they are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or if they are unable to control the amount they drink.4
The Guidelines also note that not drinking alcohol also is the safest option for women who are lactating. Generally, moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages by a woman who is lactating (up to 1 standard drink in a day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the woman waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing or expressing breast milk.
- The Guidelines note, “Emerging evidence suggests that even drinking within the recommended limits may increase the overall risk of death from various causes, such as from several types of cancer and some forms of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol has been found to increase risk for cancer, and for some types of cancer, the risk increases even at low levels of alcohol consumption (less than 1 drink in a day).” 4
- Although past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits (e.g., reducing risk of heart disease), recent studies show this may not be true.6-12 While some studies have found improved health outcomes among moderate drinkers, it’s impossible to conclude whether these improved outcomes are due to moderate alcohol consumption or other differences in behaviors or genetics between people who drink moderately and people who don’t.6-12
- Most U.S. adults who drink don’t drink every day.13 That’s why it’s important to focus on the amount people drink on the days that they drink. Even if women consume an average of 1 drink per day or men consume an average of 2 drinks per day, increases the risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm in the short-term and in the future.14
- Drinking at levels above the moderate drinking guidelines significantly increases the risk of short-term harms, such as injuries, as well as the risk of long-term chronic health problems, such as some types of cancer.1,15,16
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., Accessed April 18, 2022.
- Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, Bagnardi V, Donati M, Iacoviello L, de Gaetano G., Arch Intern Med 2006;166(22):2437-45.
- Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds., Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.,9th Edition, Washington, DC; 2020.
- Henley SJ, Kanny D, Roland KB, et al., Alcohol Alcohol 2014;49(6):661-7.
- Chikritzhs T, Fillmore K, Stockwell T., Drug Alcohol Rev 2009;28:441–4.
- Andréasson S, Chikritzhs T, Dangardt F, Holder H, Naimi T, Stockwell T., In: Alcohol and Society 2014, Stockholm: IOGT-NTO & Swedish Society of Medicine, 2014.
- Knott CS, Coombs N, Stamatakis E, Biddulph JP., BMJ 2015;350:h384.
- Holmes MV, Dale CE, Zuccolo L, et al. BMJ 2014;349:g4164
- Naimi TS, Brown DW, Brewer RD, et al., Am J Prev Med 2005;28(4):369–73.
- Rosoff DB, Davey Smith G, Mehta N, Clarke TK, Lohoff FW., PLoS Med 2020;17:e1003410.
- Biddinger KJ, Emdin CA, Haas ME, et al., JAMA Netw Open 2022;5(3):e223849.
- Naimi TS., J Stud Alcohol Drug 2011;72:687.
- Holahan CJ, Holahan CK, Moos RH., Am J Prev Med 2022 (in press);10.1016.
- Vinson DC, Maclure M, Reidinger C, Smith GS. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2003;64:358-66.
- Nelson DE, Jarman DW, Rehm J, et al. Am J Public Health 2013;103(4):641-8.
Is it OK that I don’t drink alcohol?
Things to remember if you don’t drink alcohol – In a world where alcohol seems to be omnipresent, it’s important to remember that there is nothing wrong with you for not drinking. Especially if you choose not to drink to overcome addiction or tackle another health problem, you are doing the right thing and it is very brave.
- It isn’t easy to step out of the ordinary and go against the grain when it’s ingrained in our society that we need to drink.
- There is pressure to drink to celebrate, to commiserate, to de-stress, when we are tired and even when we are happy.
- By not drinking, you are stepping out of the norm.
- While this can be frightening, you are showing yourself and others that you can do everything in life just as they can, without the crutch of a drink,” says Walker.
She highlights that it takes emotional resilience and mental strength to maintain sobriety and navigate life in all its rawness without alcohol. “But if you are choosing to do that, for whatever reason, you have done really well so far and can continue to do so.
If you are craving a drink, remember to check in with yourself. Remind yourself of the reasons why you chose this path and, if you’re overcoming an addiction, go easy on yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit forever immediately, and be sure to communicate your feelings.” She also stresses the importance of practising the appropriate self-care tool for the emotion currently at play, rather than turning to alcohol as a quick solution.
“If you are tired, then rest. If you are happy, consider how adding alcohol can only numb that feeling. If you are lonely, connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Remember that alcohol is a depressant and it is unlikely to make any of these things better in the long run.”
Can you live life without alcohol?
4. Experience a Boost in Confidence – Unhealthy drinking can both cause low self-esteem, and exacerbate existing feelings of low confidence. A life without alcohol is a life to be proud of, and can help address these challenges over time. Sobriety can create more opportunities to feel aligned with your values and recognize your strengths.
How long is it safe to not drink?
– Share on Pinterest The overall health of a person can determine how much water they need to drink. The body needs lots of water to carry out many essential functions, such as balancing the internal temperature and keeping cells alive. As a general rule of thumb, a person can survive without water for about 3 days.
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What a person eats may also affect the amount of water they need to drink. For example, a person who eats water-rich foods, such as fruits, juices, or vegetables, may not need to drink as much water as someone who has been eating grains, bread, and other dry foods.
Is it good to drink a day?
Benefits of Drinking Water – Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones.
Keep a normal temperature. Lubricate and cushion joints. Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.
Your body needs more water when you are:
In hot climates. More physically active. Running a fever. Having diarrhea or vomiting.