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Is Moderate Drinking Good for Your Health?

Everyone knows that excessive drinking is bad for your health, although most people would say they don’t drink excessively. For years there have been studies claiming that moderate drinking–typically one or two drinks per day–actually has some health benefits. Like most health and science news, however, whether or not moderate drinking is healthy seems to change by the minute. Is moderate drinking healthy right now?

Well, maybe, but probably not. While many studies have shown that moderate drinking reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and slightly increases longevity, a recent meta-analysis of those studies found a major flaw in their data: many of them counted recovering alcoholics among the non-drinkers. While technically true, it may mean the studies discounted the damage caused by years of heavy drinking among apparently non-drinkers. Instead of showing that moderate drinking may have health benefits, those studies may have inadvertently added to the already ample evidence that heavy drinking is unhealthy.

Still, there are studies using more reliable data that show a slight benefit to moderate drinking. And there are cultural examples–like the “Mediterranean diet” and the French–that seem to fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that drinking is bad for you. Health is complicated and it’s likely these counterexamples can be explained by other factors, primarily cultural differences. Having a glass of wine every evening with your friends at the cafe, for example, is not the same as having a couple of beers at home alone. It’s difficult to tease out relevant lifestyle factors, especially when there may be factors no one has thought of.

For now, the best course of action remains “when in doubt, don’t drink.” If the health benefits of alcohol are so difficult to validate, they are probably negligible, and mainly serve as an excuse to drink. “I just read that red wine is good for you, so I might as well have a glass with dinner.” Breweries, distilleries, and vineyards no doubt love it when these positive studies get media attention.

Of course, if you are in recovery, you shouldn’t drink anyway, but at least you can rest assured you aren’t missing out on the miracle of resveratrol, or whatever fountain-of-youth compound is making headlines this week. If you are not in recovery or active addiction, feel free to have a drink or two, but it probably won’t make you healthier.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.