PHOENIX -- ‘Tis the season to be jolly – but getting too jolly can definitely leave fuzzy or missing memories of the night before, a bad taste in your mouth, an ache in your head. (Remember to always have a designated driver!) Most of know from personal experience know that too much alcohol does bad things to our bodies (and definitely clouds our decision-making abilities), but studies show a variety of health benefits for moderate drinkers.
Studies show that moderate amounts of alcohol raises the level of high-density lipoprotein, HDL, or "good" cholesterol in our blood. HDL is the enzyme that helps keep plaque from building up in our arteries, so that blood can flow freely through the heart and throughout our bodies. When plaque builds inside your arteries, so does your chance of having a heart attack. Higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease.
Moderate amounts of alcohol can also improve the libido. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. New research has found that moderate drinking might actually protect against erectile dysfunction. Another surprising benefit from another recent study showed that moderate drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease, as well as other forms of dementia. Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make our brain cells more fit!
For those who moderately or drastically overdo their intake of adult beverages and are suffering for it, there is some hope. Alcohol has a diuretic effect (which is why there is always a line at the ladies room at clubs) and it makes you thirsty, so you drink more. As the evening progresses, you’re becoming dehydrated. A few smart steps before you go to bed can definitely help ward off the dreaded hangover. I recommend drinking at least 12 ounces of water and taking some vitamin B right before you go to bed. If you plan to take some headache meds to try to ward off the inevitable, avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol or similar brands) as it can it can potentially harm your liver (and you’ve already gotten a good start on that one).
These are only a few of the positive and negative health benefits alcohol can have on our bodies and our lives. Like with most things in life, alcohol is best for you when you use it wisely. The entire DeRosa Medical team wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. Angela DeRosa is a nationally recognized expert in the field of Internal Medicine and Women's Health. DeRosa Medical has locations in Scottsdale, Sedona and Chandler. For more information, call 480-619-4097 or visit DeRosaMedical.com.