The latest U.S. dietary guidelines have been released, and one major change in the alcohol section is the inclusion of the benefits of alcohol in your daily diet.
According to the experts charged with creating the alcohol section, strong evidence indicates that "the lowest mortality risk for men and women [occurs] at the average level of one to two drinks per day, [and] is likely due to the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on CHD [coronary heart disease], diabetes, and ischemic stroke as summarized in this chapter."
In other words, people who have a couple of drinks daily live the longest! Adding what for some is insult to injury, the group also noted: "Moderate evidence suggests that compared to non-drinkers, individuals who drink moderately have a slower cognitive decline with age." Moderate drinkers not only live longer, they are more alert while doing so!
Having seen studies on various benefits of moderate alcohol consumption over the years, I had no idea this was such a contentious political issue. But anything that is produced by the government has to be polemic. In a puritanical society like ours that even banned alcohol for a period of time, I suppose it's not shocking that some people fight to keep any positive news about alcohol away from the masses.
Understandably, the goals in the past for these guidelines have been to warn people away from the many negative effects of addiction and alcohol consumption. In fact, the first time health benefits were published in the guidelines in 1995, Senator Strom Thurmond railed against the inclusion that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk for coronary disease. Still, the information found its way into the final document.
The concern of some is that people will use these guidelines as an excuse to drink more heavily and be in danger of succumbing to the horrifying problems of addiction. I totally understand this point of view, and agree to a point. Moderation is key, and for some, moderation is simply not possible.
However, shouldn't we be allowed to make our own decisions -- good or bad? Information is always a good thing. If someone is likely to abuse alcohol, they probably don't need this study to do so.
Do these new guidelines make you want to drink more alcohol?
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