Many people drink alcohol for enjoyment, to relax, and to relieve stress. But research has shown that alcohol consumption can also be healthy, when done in moderation.
Given the fact that we are all physically different shapes and sizes, and that a multitude of factors affect how your body processes alcohol, how can you know what "moderate" drinking really means for you? This article will reveal a very easy and quick way to find your perfect blood alcohol content (BAC) for health and happiness.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Based on our current knowledge, it can be accurately stated that alcohol is like many drugs: beneficial in small doses, poisonous at higher concentrations.
Dr. Amitava Dasgupta, BACtrack Advisor and Professor at UT-Houston Medical School, states simply in his book, "moderate drinking may increase longevity and protect against many diseases, including cardiovascular disease."
In addition, drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly can impart these benefits to the drinker:
- Reduced risk of developing and dying from heart disease
- Reduced risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of forming gallstones
- Reduced risk of developing arthritis
- Reduced risk of developing age-related dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease
So if moderate drinking can bring about these health benefits, what exactly is "moderate"?
Dr. Dasgupta defines moderate drinking as not more than two standard drinks per day for men younger than 65, and not more than one standard drink per day for women and men over 65.
A standard drink is defined according to the following guidelines:
- Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
- Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
- Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
Of course, the unsaid issue at hand is that beer and wine potency varies from one type of drink to another--vastly sometimes--even within the beer and wine categories.
For example, drinking one Imperial Pale Ale or one glass of Cabernet Sauvignon means consuming quite a different amount of alcohol compared to drinking a Pilsner or a Moscato, even if the same fluid quantities are strictly adhered to.
This is where a breathalyzer becomes an extremely helpful tool.
By using a breathalyzer while you are drinking, you can quantify how each drink affects you, and adjust accordingly.
According to Dr. Dasgupta's research, the perfect BAC in accordance with these moderate drinking guidelines is 0.04 - 0.05%. When your BAC is in this range, you feel good, you gain all the health benefits from the alcohol, and you should not appear overly impaired.
"Once you go above that, impairment begins," Dasgupta says.
This is where many of us go wrong. Once our BAC reaches 0.04%, we're feeling good, our inhibitions are lowering, and we are quicker to laugh or smile. "Why not have another?" we ask ourselves harmlessly.
This may be a mistake, though, as when we have that next drink, our mental and physical "buzz" will likely remain the same. We may not even feel much of a difference in terms of intoxication--but others will be able to see it. This is because our mental and physical faculties are beginning to degrade under the effect of the alcohol.
"From 0.06 - 0.11% BAC, the drinker will feel just about the same," Dasgupta says, but as the drinker's BAC rises, his impairment will become more and more apparent to observers.
This is why a breathalyzer can be such a lifesaver. By using it to check how alcohol is affecting your body, you can easily determine a safe course of action--whether it be slowing your consumption, switching to water, or calling a cab.
For anyone unsure of how your alcohol consumption stacks up, use a BACtrack Breathalyzer to regularly monitor your BAC and stay within the acceptable limits. By doing so, you can be sure to stay healthy, get all the benefits from drinking alcohol, enjoy yourself, and not hurt yourself or a loved one.