When we discuss diet and life choices with our acupuncture patients we are often asked about alcohol consumption. Is it okay to have a few drinks? How much and how often? How does alcohol impact our acupuncture meridians, our Qi (chee) and our overall balance?
There are so many opportunities in our culture to consume alcohol in moderate to vast quantities. Alcohol is seen as the gateway to good times, relaxation, fun with friends, even heightened romance and intimacy. We know that young people are relatively carefree and unconsciously assume immortality and therefore can drink excessively while those over 35 begin to experience excessive alcohol consumption having a negative impact on their health and well-being.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine warns about excessive liquor consumption but doesn’t prohibit it in moderation. Many Traditional Chinese herbal formulas or elixirs are made from herbs steeped in alcohol. Modern medical research has often given contradictory advice about drinking and its impact on health. So by the time, we reach middle age and beyond, over-consumption of alcohol, combined with traits such as weight, gender, and genetic dispositions can blossom into serious and chronic conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, inflammation and other chronic conditions which impact what remains of our lives. We also live in a time where we receive dire warnings about all the things unhealthy in our environment. These threats can drive us to drink!
Good tidings, a new study published in PLOS Journal (June 2018) has come out with positive news for young and old concerning both a pleasure and a potential downfall, the consumption of alcohol. Titled “The association of lifetime alcohol use with mortality and cancer risk in older adults: A cohort study by Kunzmann, et al, was designed to dive deep into just how much drinking corresponds to rates of cancer and cancer-related mortality over an average human lifetime. It focuses on the incidence of specific types of cancer: prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian. The study followed approximately 100,000 women and men ages 55-75 over an average period of 10 years. They found a direct association between the level of lifetime alcohol consumption and cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality which, based on previous studies, was no surprise. What did surprise is that the incidence of cancers and cancer-related deaths in light drinkers was found to be lower than that of total abstainers?
While the difference was minimal: 1.09 (1.01–1.13) for teetotalers and 1.08 (1.03–1.13) for infrequent drinkers. Many studies have shown that a glass of red wine daily is beneficial for cardio-vascular health due to the high levels of natural anti-oxidants such as polyphenol and resveratrol. if enjoying one drink a couple of times a week can increase your wellness even a tad, it's worth considering!
Teetotalers please take note.
The study results indicate that the sweet spot for alcohol consumption is between 1 to 5 drinks per week. One drink is defined as:
● Wine - 5 oz.
● Beer - 12 oz.
● Liquor - 1.5 oz. per shot or mixed drink
Since the light consumption of alcoholic beverages has shown to infer a protective influence on cardiac wellness as well to slightly lower the risk of certain cancers compared to teetotalers, consider consuming alcohol in very moderate levels as part of your wellness regime, along with being physically active, consuming natural, minimally processed foods, and cultivating mindfulness. Chinese medicine recommends light to moderate consumption of alcohol because it stimulates the Heart and Liver and can detoxify the Intestines. Too much will cause dampness in the Spleen and lead to Kidney deficiency and stir the Liver excessively. But in moderation alcohol can have a beneficial effect. The Chinese toast: Gang Bei! Add that to bottoms up! Here’s mud in your eye!