9/12/2012 9:57 PM
While people frequently make jokes about getting their vitamin C through screwdrivers or beer being liquid bread, it turns out that alcohol, at least in moderate amounts, might be good for you after all. Scientific studies seem to reveal more benefits to moderate alcohol consumption every day.
Alcohol Can Make You More creative
Back in my freelancing days, if I was having trouble getting the words to properly arrange themselves on the page, I’d pack up my laptop and walk to the pub. The combination of the low-key background noise of the bar and the lubricating effect of a cold beer were often just what I needed.
The effectiveness of a small amount of booze has been supported by two different scientific studies. When subjects were given alcohol equivalent to that in two pints of beer, they were better able to complete tasks that tested creativity and problem solving.
Booze Prevents Colds
Two separate studies have provided evidence that moderate drinkers suffer fewer colds than teetotalers. Spanish researchers followed the habits of 4,300 healthy adults to determine which behaviors were most associated with lower susceptibility to the common cold. Those who drank between 8 and 14 glasses of wine a week suffered 60% fewer colds than those who drank other spirits or did not imbibe. In a separate study, researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that, among 341 subjects, those who drank moderately were less likely to suffer colds than those who did not.
The benefit is all in the prevention, though. While a hot toddy or other alcoholic beverage is a common folk remedy for illness, the benefit is only in the alleviation of symptoms. Alcohol can’t reduce the length of a cold or flu, and, through dehydration, may even keep you sick for longer.
It Prevents Dementia and Helps You Live Longer
A couple of US studies have indicated that, among older adults, drinking can help prevent dementia, and extend lifespan. A 1997 New England Journal of Medicine study followed men and women between the ages of 60 and 79 for a nine year period. Healthy people who drank were found to have a death rate that was .9 that of lifelong non-drinkers; among those who had conditions like heart disease, the death rate of drinkers was even lower.
And, according to the journal Age and Aging, in a survey of over 3000 Germans aged 75 and over, those who had two to three alcoholic beverages a day were 60% less likely to suffer from dementia.