As we conclude 2010 and begin a new year, alcohol is usually part of the celebration. But before you pop that cork and "party on," let's stop and briefly take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly surrounding this beverage.
Even though this is not the focus of our beverage expedition, the dark side of alcohol should be noted. Other than that nasty hangover after a night of drunkenness, this beverage choice causes poor judgment, behavioral problems, and for millions it leads to alcohol abuse, and even death. Sadly, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who "serves a victim or survivor of drunk driving every 10 minutes," statistics are grim: "every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash." And alarmingly, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that "10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2009 –– that's one every 50 minutes."
As far as the fitness aspects, you should be aware that alcohol has short-term effects on health and body fat; its nutritional value is nil –– as in tons of empty calories, and those mixed drinks pack on more calories than you think. Drinking a lot of booze can also cause dehydration, create electrolyte imbalances, and alcohol can indirectly make you fat –– "while your body uses up all the alcohol circulating in the blood, the oxidation of fats, carbohydrates and protein becomes suppressed." Translation: these macronutrients are not used for their intended purpose and are "forced into storage."
Now, you may not be a heavy drinker, which is a good thing, but perhaps you are under the impression that "moderate drinking –– about one drink a day for women, about two for men –– is a central component of a healthy lifestyle." Are you are convinced by what some "experts" have been touting for years? That alcohol is good for your health –– reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia –– mainly. Not so fast my friends because the New York Times shed "doubt" on the case in 2009; highlighting that some scientists take issue with these claims, and in reality "it may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy." Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic, who lists some of the health benefits of moderate drinking, also points out that "the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn't certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks."