We have all heard it before: alcohol is bad for you! Alcohol causes accidents, alcohol is a carcinogen, and alcohol causes moral and social degradation. All true at high doses over a prolonged period of time and on a regular basis.
At low doses (1 to 2 glasses of red wine each evening), alcohol has more health benefits than health-damaging effects. Red wine is the healthiest source of alcohol since it also contains Resveratrol, the antioxidative molecule that protects our arteries and thus our hearts from clogging up with cholesterol plaques. Red wine has also been used as an antiseptic, especially to prevent gastrointestinal infections from bacteria and parasites.
But what about alcohol itself? What are its healthy effects? Alcohol is officially a Central Nervous System depressant. It slows down the firing of brain cells and thus eases the inhibitions and relaxes the mind. It actually binds to certain receptors in our brain that normally a neurotransmitter called GABA binds to. Why we have receptors in our brain for alcohol is a very interesting and as yet unanswered question. GABA is also a molecule that balances over-excitation of our nerve cells. So how can we apply this quality of alcohol to improve our quality of life? Well for one, a glass of red wine in the evening will relax the mind and help with falling asleep, as well as having a good, full night’s sleep. The other benefit is relaxation after consumption during dramatic or taxing events when we are overexcited and over-stressed. Alcohol has been used for this purpose for millennia and it would be very difficult for anyone to deny this fact. Such nervous relaxation can be far healthier on the general state of our bodies and minds than dealing with the stress without any relaxation whatsoever. As has been shown by numerous studies, excessive stress can be very damaging to our health and especially to mental health.
Another example where alcohol is very handy is for improving the enjoyment of social events. Prime examples are weddings, christenings, and to celebrate any major success of any kind. But please note that I am not encouraging excessive alcohol consumption. This kind of behaviour is damaging to our organs, is addictive and can make us get into a lot of trouble with friends, family and sometimes even the authorities. I am simply offering some facts to put some balance into the dogma we all hear from health professionals that alcohol is all bad.