Quiz Time: How Alcohol Affects Your Health
During my drinking days, one of the hardest things about dieting was putting my beloved beer on ice. While I was trying to watch my calorie intake, a typical beer just wasn’t worth the investment.
I remember the weekend I tried the Bud Select 55 after hearing each can had just 55 calories. I should be drummed out of the beer drinkers association. This stuff tasted more like beer-flavored water than honest-to-goodness beer.
Michelob Ultra, at 95 calories, is slightly better tasting, but neither beer ever proved satisfying for me.
I found some satisfaction in vodka and diet tonic with lime. But booze doesn’t make me feel very good the next day, so I eventually cut it out altogether.
With the holidays at hand I decided to give an early present to my drinking friends. So belly up to the bar and take this little quiz prepared by my longtime friend, registered dietitian Susan Burke March.
The answers to these 10 true-or-false statements may surprise you. Cheers!
Alcohol is a stimulant.
False! Alcohol is a drug that acts like a depressant or sedative.
Drinking coffee is a good way to sober up.
False! Coffee, a cold shower or exercise cannot rid your system of alcohol. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, so you may feel more alert, but your judgment, vision, hearing, concentration, coordination and muscular activity will remain impaired. Only time can sober you up. It takes about an hour and a half to eliminate a standard glass of an alcoholic drink regardless of age, sex and size.
Food and milk coat the stomach and prevent the absorption of alcohol.
False! Food and milk do not prevent the absorption of alcohol, but they do slow the passage of alcohol from the stomach to the small intestines. This means that alcohol “goes to the head” more slowly if one has just eaten or if one eats while drinking.
Alcohol can be healthy for you.
True! What needs to be clarified is the amount. All alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle – in moderation that is. And that means no more than 2 drinks per day for men or 1 drink per day for women. A “drink” is 4-5 ounces of wine, a shot of spirits or 12 ounces of regular beer.
Men and women can drink the same amount of alcohol.
False! Alcohol has more of an effect on women than men, so there is a lower recommended intake of one drink per day for women, compared with two drinks per day for men.
Beer does not make you gain weight.
True! Drinking alcohol is not associated with weight gain but when consumed in excess it can lead to weight gain. Any form of alcohol is a “calorie-dense” food. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol offers no nutritional value.
White wine is a good choice if you want a drink with less alcohol.
False! A glass of wine has as much alcohol as a shot of spirits or 12 ounces of beer. Your brain cannot tell the difference. Alcohol is alcohol is alcohol!
Light beer has the same kick as regular beer.
True! The term “light” signifies a product with slightly less alcohol and fewer calories than regular beer. In most cases, the difference is very slight. Non-alcoholic beers, however, have less than half a percent of alcohol and are much lower in calories.
As long as your weekly number of drinks balance out you can overindulge on occasion.
False! The health benefits of alcohol are associated with sticking to one to two drinks per day, maximum. Drinks can’t be “saved” over time and consumed at one sitting. This is known as “binge drinking,” and it’s a serious problem.
Red wine is healthier than beer.
False! The moderate consumption of any alcohol is associated with better health and longer life than is either abstaining from alcohol or abusing alcohol. It’s the ethanol in all forms of alcohol that has been shown to provide beneficial heart health effects.
Thanks to you, Susan, for serving up that round of booze clues! The bottom line: Everything in moderation, including alcohol. So drink to your health … not until you’re pickled.
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.