Thirsty Thursday? Think again….
Alcohol is a tough one for a lot of people. One or two can help to lighten your mood or add some grease to an awkward social situation, while three or four can put you out of commission for a full twenty-four hours.
Moderation is key, to be sure. Knowing your personal limit and sticking to it is a challenge many of us struggle with. Used properly, alcohol can have a myriad of health benefits. Abuse it regularly and you put your body at great risk for a host of unpleasant maladies.
It helps to be aware of the facts and understand how to use alcohol to your greatest advantage.
The Five Stages of Intoxication
Euphoria: At a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.03% to 0.12%, your confidence gets a boost, your cheeks get a little flush and everyone in the room seems just a little bit funnier and a little bit more attractive, including yourself. Miraculously, you are also able to dance like John Travolta and sing like Olivia Newton-John.
Lethargy: Here’s where the night takes a turn for the worst. With a BAC of 0.09% – 0.25% balance comes with difficulty, vision becomes blurred and reaction time slows. Those billiard skills you bragged about earlier are curiously departed. You’re dizzy and nauseous and not nearly as attractive as you were three or four drinks ago.
Confusion: Most of us do not normally drink to a BAC of more than 0.18%. At this stage, your senses are severely impaired. You begin to sway and stagger and probably get kicked out of the bar. Best case scenario, you grab a taxi home, vomit a few times and sleep it off. Worst case scenario, well, we’ve all seen the MADD commercials.
Stupor: To reach BAC 0.25% to 0.40%, you must be either a rock star or an irish accordion player (basically the same, anyway). You’ll be lapsing in and out of consciousness, your heart will slow and amnesia will begin to set in. You’re at high risk of death by pulmonary aspiration (inhalation of vomit), which was responsible for the demise of Jon Bonham and Bon Scott.
Coma: At 0.35% to 0.50% you are experiencing life-threatening respiratory depression and decreased heart rate. Immediate medical attention is required.
Most of us don’t drink enough to be concerned with the last three stages. MADD is just one of many non-profits working overtime to keep us informed and up-to-date on the latest in alcohol research.
What we don’t hear about nearly as often are the many benefits alcohol can have on the body. There are a plethora of reasons to drink alcohol daily. In moderation, of course. What’s moderation? Most experts agree that moderation means one drink per day for women and two for men.
Choosing the right kind of alcohol is equally important. The cheap beer sold at your local grocer is likely high in carbs and high in calories. Similarly, red wine has far more health benefits than white. Jagermeister can’t hold a candle to the bitters your grandmother probably used to cure ailing stomachs.
Five Beneficial Effects of Alcohol
Digestive benefit: Digestive Bitters have been used for centuries to aid in digestion or even combat fever. It is also used as a home remedy for hiccups and to prevent recurrence of malaria.
Antioxidant benefit: As an antioxidant, alcohol is good for more than just cancer prevention. A little a day helps to improve energy levels and keep you young.
Healthy heart: The phenols found in some alcoholic beverages help to protect against heart disease and hypertension. It’s not only wine. Even some lower carb, lower calorie beers can be heart healthy when consumed in moderation.
Fresh Breath: Alcohol and fresh breath? No way. Yes, way. Gargling with a shot of vodka kills bad odor bacterias in your mouth. Just be sure not to swallow.
Increased Smarts: The ethanol in alcohol helps your brain resist the kind of wear and tear that leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life. Studies have shown it can also lead to increased creativity.
Moderation is the great decider of the long-term effects alcohol will have on your body. Blood-alcohol concentration varies based on how long and how much you’ve been drinking. If you need a quick calculation of BCA, chances are you’re probably over the limit.
Stay informed and choose your poison with care. Too much of a good thing, as Shakespeare once said…