Do You Want To Empower Others To Take Control Of Their Health And Wellness?

It’s no secret that we Americans have reached an all-time level of being “unhealthy,” thanks to an ever-increasing stress-filled lifestyle. Despite widespread campaigns aimed at helping people stop smoking, eat better and exercise, the vast majority of Americans does not get regular exercise and are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. There is a clear need to empower others to take control of their health and wellness.  

There has been an explosion in obesity that is cited as high as 63%, along with climbing rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases associated with lifestyle and behavior choices. As far back as 1996, Harvard Medical School published a 7-year study which confirms up to 70% of all cancer, heart disease, stroke and mature onset diabetes are preventable with lifestyle and behavior changes. And yet, the health of the wealthiest nation in the world continues to decline.

A Need For Real Health Education

Core factors for this epidemic amongst Americans can be found in a recent government study. The Institute of Medicine published a major study identifying that ninety million Americans are "health illiterate." This does not mean, in this internet dominant society, that people do not have access to or are not receiving enough health and wellness information. It means that the majority of us do not know how to interpret or use the health information we receive to control or improve our health and wellness or prevent chronic disease. This reveal the need for more educated Holistic Nurses and Health Coaches to bridge the gap.

Think of the last time you read the results of a new study in a magazine and realized you did not know how to use that information to support or improve your health. In fact, data presented to the American College of Health Care Executives identifies "lack of information as the number one root cause of death.” Yet, experts like Susan Edgman-Levatin, Executive Director, John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital, acknowledges "It's no secret that traditional methods of patient education are hopelessly ineffective."

NIWH Has An Answer

Addressing this problem, as far back as 1977, the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston, Massachusetts, in cooperation with physicians, nurses and online health educators, began research and development on an extraordinary, whole-person focused model of health education. The product of these 30 years of development in Boston area hospitals, Whole Health Education®, has today found its way into the medical mainstream.

These specialized health educators, Whole Health Educators ™, are uniquely trained in respectful presence and mindful listening skills as well as evidence-based, integrated health sciences to demystify for their clients the five major factors of health that influence how well we are or how sick we become. By providing “the big picture of health”®, an integrated understanding of how these five aspects can cause health or disease, the patient or client can possess the knowledge and tools to make necessary lifestyle changes and behavioral choices that are personally right for them. Identifying the root cause and effect of a chronic condition can free an individual to make changes they may not have previously considered.

Become The Solution

If you are looking for work with purpose and integrity and are a health care professional, or entry level candidate, who desires to serve others by providing evidence-based health information, and a natural, spiritual outlook on healing, this program may be of interest to you. NIWH offers Holistic Nurse Certification and Health Coach Certification. Program are offered through distance learning as well as optional in-person weekend classes, conducted at a Harvard affiliate hospital in the Boston area, which includes nationally recognized health experts and outstanding core facility members. For more information visit www.niwh.org or call 888-354-HEAL (4325)

 

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Research Reveals The Purpose Of Your Emotions

research reveals purpose of emotions

Most of us perceive the brain as being for thinking, or intellectual functions. We often think of ourselves, our personality, as what is going on in those intellectual functions from the neck up. In fact, there are several parts to our brain that contribute to who we are and how we form our personality, not just our intellectual cortex. In this way, the purpose/role of emotions is far more complex than meets the eye.

The cortex is what we refer to as our smart brain. Most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually, yet they can be emotionally dysfunctional almost in the extreme. We often presume erroneously that our thinking brain should be “smart” enough to exercise dominion over our emotions.

However, the missing piece of information here is that our emotions actually are a survival adaptation mechanism that each of us develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning.

Aggressive Or Passive?
Some of us learn to be assertive or aggressive in our environments to adapt, and some of us learn to become passive or try to become invisible to stay safe and secure. Nothing is more powerful in the human being than the drive to survive. Hence, our emotions win in the battle between thinking and feeling.

It is helpful to understand that our emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first five years of our development. Our familial input taught us, as it did Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers.

Embedded Conditioning
This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by thought processes; the thought process for humans is the newest component to our primitive, or primordial, brain. But it is in the survival adaptive portion of our brain that we form our personality and that we become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

You have to understand that the interpersonal issues that can frustrate you may come from your drive to survive and the conditioned responses to the stimulation and environment you have experienced. They do not stem from a desire to be difficult or bad intent. Realize this and you can begin to be kinder and gentler toward yourself and others.

Our emotions are the way we learn to live and survive in our world. We cannot think them into changing, but we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives. We can also explore techniques that allow us to have greater control over our emotions. For a free chapter download on brain function and behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

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What Nonverbal Communication Are You Sending?

What Nonverbal Communication Are You sending?

Albert Merhabien, the famed communication researcher, stated that nonverbal communication makes up almost 93 percent of all the “messages” we receive from other individuals. Others suggest that it is actually more like 60 percent to 70 percent of nonverbal communication that lets us know what others are really feeling.

What we know about how the brain and body work is that all thoughts and feelings are ways that we cope with surviving in our world and that, for many of us, not revealing our feelings and instead holding them back may be the “safe” way to cope with others at work, at home and in general.

Inside The Brain

What is also well understood is that there are “tells,” or neurological expressions of these withheld, nonverbal communications, that are going on inside of our brains. Even though we may not consciously or intentionally express verbally or physically how we feel, our brain/body connection does express these thoughts and feelings in nonverbal ways. These nonverbal ways are the “tells” that police and other professionals use to decide if someone is withholding information.

Many studies have been done on the subject of body language and nonverbal communication. It is important for all of us to become aware of how our physical and verbal or nonverbal behavior impacts others, especially those who spend the most time in our environment.

Nonverbal communication can often cause one individual in a relationship to become upset if he feels he is seeing or interpreting nonverbal actions by his partner as being rejecting or disinterested. Often, before a relationship breaks up, one partner suspects the relationship is in trouble because of a lack of eye contact or verbal communication or because of hostile body language, such as the crossing of arms or legs, in response to communication attempts.

Scientific Insights

There is a science to nonverbal communication interpretation, as well as a science to understanding the best way to express our feelings and how the way we do that can result in a positive or negative outcome. The science is directly related to neurological and neurotransmitter connections between thoughts and feelings in the brain and their communication to the muscles and nerves in the rest of our body.

If you would like more information on this subject, you can download a free chapter from Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by going to www.changingbehavior.org.

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Establish These Three Behaviors To Improve Your Life

The most important relationship we have is with ourselves. The way we think, eat, behave and use our resources define the quality of life we live. We all want to thrive and enjoy a healthy fulfilling life. Yet, in our over scheduled, frenzied personal environments and ever encroaching culture, the simple, basic, no-cost behaviors that will better our lives and foster an excellent relationship with ourselves are often overlooked.

Here is a list of 3 simple behaviors any of us can do immediately to improve and restore our well-being and enhance our health.

1. Buy with Cash

Over the last 5 years, most of us have had a reality check regarding the corrosive nature of debt. It can cause stress, anxiety and sleepless nights, robbing us of our well-being and causing us to lose control over our relationship with money. One of the fastest and easiest ways of “turning the ship around” when it comes to debt is to commit to using only cash for purchases and cutting up the credit cards.

While we can have an emergency card or line of credit squirreled away for a real emergency, by reining in our spending habits and eliminating debt, we can do more for our sense of well-being and health than following the latest health trends and starting an exercise program. Yes, it’s true – reducing and eliminating the crushing stress of debt accumulation is the number one act of self-care we all need to commit to. Studies show that chronic stress and worry will make us sicker and even cause life threatening events such as stroke and heart attack more so than any other lifestyle behavior.

Also, by paying in cash you are more aware of what you are actually spending and have the opportunity to ask yourself: “Do I really need to make this purchase?”

2. Clean out Your Closets

In our consumer-driven environment, we are invited daily to buy, buy, buy and can find ourselves living with closets, attics and basements overflowing with “stuff.” Much of this stuff we do not even use and may not even remember we have.

One of the most satisfying experiences is to clean out closets, drawers, basements, attics, garages, storage areas, and so forth. Thin out all the excess material possessions we have and do not need or use. Giving things away to the local “swap shop” or donating these unnecessary belongings to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will not only free up room and space in our homes, but will also provide a greater sense of control over your living space as well as provide a sense of orderliness and cleanliness – all good things for our health and happiness.

3. Post Your Life Goals and Affirmations

We all have goals and dreams we want to realize. One of the fastest, proven ways to achieve those goals and manifest our dreams is to write them down and post them throughout our whole working and living environments. Take the most urgent and important goal you have at this time and focus on it daily, using post-its or other reminders of what you want to manifest.

This no cost, proven method for creating the things we want in our lives can become an excellent life-long behavior. When one goal is realized or achieved, we can identify the next important goal and work on that specifically, using our desire and unconscious mind to manifest our dreams. After all, thoughts really are “things.” By repeatedly thinking on something, we can create it into reality.

Everything was a thought before it became a reality – the chair you are sitting on was a thought in someone’s mind before it was created. We can and do create our lives with our thoughts – so post away and realize your goals.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.ChangingBehavior.org

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Take The First Step Towards Happiness

Take The First Step Towards Happiness

With such a strong emphasis on achievement, accumulation and recognition in our society, it is easy to become discouraged or disappointed with who or what we perceive ourselves to be, especially in how we stack up in the “pecking order” with those around us. Being happy with yourself is a choice that each of us can make every day by taking simple, practical steps to develop habits of happiness.

Take the first step towards happiness right now. It starts with creating an environment to work and live in that reduces stress and workload and brings order and ease, making your work and living easier. This uplifting environment can also provide the experience of soothing tranquility rather than focusing on the disorder and chaos that often become the working and living environments we find ourselves in.

Start With A Clean Slate

Clean out your desk drawers and closets, discarding excess. Redefining what is important to keep and what feels good to get rid of is a first step to creating a peaceful and happy living or working space. Creating an environment that truly resonates with your values is like building an oasis in the desert. By eliminating the need to accumulate more and more “things” around us, we can unburden ourselves and have a more orderly, relaxing and peaceful space to live and work in.

Review Your “Friends List” Too

This same philosophy can be applied to your circle of friends and acquaintances. Just like with material things, we can also accumulate unnecessary or unwanted relationships that can make demands on our time and energy and often insert negativity or sap our physical or financial resources. Clearing out the toxic or unhealthy relationships we may have can bring personal renewal and further our sense of happiness and contentment.

Embrace Family

Take the time to appreciate family. For most of us there are few individuals who have done more for us than our family members. This includes the people in our family who support us, are there when we need them and provide a “safe harbor” throughout our lives.

Losing loving family members can be devastating but no more so than when we fail to appreciate them as they are helping us along life’s bumpy road. Take the time to give back and express your gratitude to those who care and nurture. Not only will this bring them pleasure and a sense of being appreciated, but it will become a reminder of how loved and cared for we are. That allows us to feel more content and happy with being who we are.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.ChangingBehavior.org

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Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Did you know that what you eat affects your mood? It's interesting that the emphasis is usually on how things from the outside of us affect our insides. In reality so much of what is going on inside of us affects our outsides. That’s right, our mood and our food are intimately connected.

This is really evident in terms of weight loss and weight gain. The way we feel about ourselves, work, life, if we are fulfilled or dissatisfied, has more to do with what or how much we choose to eat than how eating a food has to do with how it "makes us feel." Our food decisions are often linked to our level of emotional wellness.

One of the reasons diets don't work is because the "work" is being done on the outside of the problem instead of the inside. I have been a nutritionist for over 30 years and have seen tens of thousands of patients who want to change the way they look or the way they eat.

When we start to "work" on the goal, within a relatively short period of time, they become aware that there are underlying feelings and emotions associated with not eating foods that help them to "medicate" or mask their feelings.

They often become discouraged because the feelings are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It is our human nature to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. It takes courage to truly tackle and confront the underlying issues of "food and mood," rather than focusing on the outside of the problem, to focus on the inside instead.

Here is an exercise you may find to be of value. If you are dealing with mood or food issues, keep a journal for 10 days. Write down everything you eat and how you feel when you don’t eat what you want, as well as how you feel when you DO eat what you want.

Just becoming more aware of what you are putting in your mouth and how it translates to how you feel after you eat a particular food, can be the start of a healthier and happier relationship with food and your mood. Before you take your next bite, consider whether you are feeding your stomach, your mood, or both.

 

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Do Spiritual Communities Foster Improved Wellness For Baby Boomers?

Do Spiritual Communities Foster Improved Wellness For Baby Boomers?

Stuff happens — especially as we age. Our lives and health generally change. The usual causes include children leaving the nest, divorce, the loss of a spouse or partner, changing financial circumstances or any one of a dozen other events. Often the outcome of these changes can lead to sadness, loneliness, depression and decreased immune function, with the resultant lowered health indicators. Our immune system is an essential key to our longevity and as we age it becomes more important to preserve its function and integrity, especially for those of us over 55 years old. One common question I have encountered is whether spiritual communities foster improved wellness for the baby boomer generation.

Exploring The Existing Research

An interesting study at Duke University Medical Center found that older people who attended religious services at least once a week were about half as likely as those who do not attend services weekly to have elevated levels of an immune protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), which serves as an indicator of how well the immune system is functioning.

IL-6 indicates the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been implicated in most major chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. This decreased level of IL-6 translates into a healthier immune system enjoyed by those with regular attendance at their religious community.

The Duke researchers, Dr. Harold Koenig and Dr. Harvey Cohen, studied 1,718 older adults in North Carolina, factoring into the outcomes the health conditions experienced by the study subjects. These included depression, chronic illness, and negative life events — all of which the researchers identified as likely to affect immune status. Even with these conditions, the improvement to the immune system in those who attended weekly services was evidenced.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and first reported in the October 1997 issue of the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, updated in 2004. These findings identified and suggest that religion or participation in a spiritual life community may affect immune function through better coping skills, psychosocial factors and the mechanisms by which organized religion promotes positive thoughts and behaviors.

However, there may be other factors at play as well. Feelings of belonging to a community, shared values, as well as the togetherness of a shared meaningful activity, such as worshiping with others, may be at the cause and effect of these findings.

Dr. Koenig, the lead author of the study, states:

 “Perhaps religious participation enhances immune functioning by yet unknown mechanisms, such as through feelings of belonging, togetherness, even perhaps the experience of worship and adoration… Such positive feelings may counteract stress and convey health effects that go far beyond simply the prevention of depression or other negative emotions.”

This study also raises the theory that there may be a factor in participating in such a weekly ritual that derails the experience of loneliness, experienced by older Americans to a larger extend than younger populations, and that this factor may be part of the healing effect of the weekly spiritual community attendance.

Establishing Validity In Subjective Study

While Koenig had found similar outcomes in a different study a year before this study, those outcomes were based on personal interviews as markers for wellbeing and health status. In the latest study, blood samples were measured for the body’s chemicals such as alpha, beta and gamma globulins, fibrin d-dimers, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, which regulate immune and inflammatory responses, providing a more accurate and scientific measurement to the findings and in calculating how healthy a person actually is.

“There is so much subjectivity when people say they feel better that you can’t rely on self reports alone to truly reflect health status,” said Dr. Harvey Cohen, professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke. “By measuring blood levels of IL- 6, we were trying to put rigorous scientific parameters on the positive health effects of religion,” he said.

Dr. Cohen explains that the team selected IL-6 as it has been identified as contributing to a wide spectrum of various age-related diseases. Cohen’s own research identified a relationship between high levels of IL-6 and a “poor functioning ability, which is a term that is used for tasks of daily living such as dressing, cooking, bathing and so forth.

Physical And Physchological Benefits

Other studies have also shown IL-6 levels are elevated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure in older adults. It seems that as we age our bodies decrease the ability to overcome the many challenges to our immune system and this leads to a decrease in its function and a greater vulnerability to all forms of illness.

The Women’s Health Initiative follow-up survey based on 92,529 post-menopausal women, at 50 years or older, identified that attending religious services increased life expectancy. This survey was taken with a diverse group of women who varied ethnically, religiously and socioeconomically. The study was funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute; National Institutes of Health; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report was published in the Journal of Religion and Health in November 2011. The report states that “those who attend services frequently were 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don’t — and were 27 percent less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance.”

Another study, published in the Winter 2001 Annals of Behavioral Medicine reported that “weekly religious attendants in 1965 were more likely to both improve poor health behaviors and maintain good ones by 1994 than were those whose attendance was less or none. Weekly attendance was also associated with improving and maintaining good mental health, increased social relationships, and marital stability.” So in that sense, yes, baby boomers who belong to a spiritual community may foster improved wellness.

While further studies to explore and more fully understand this data is warranted, for us longevity-focused boomers, a return to a spiritual or worship community could represent an opportunity for renewed connection with others in a shared environment, as well as potential discernment and insight into the importance of belonging.

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For a free chapter download on how to immediately improve your relationship communication skills, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt To Stress

Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt 

The ability for a human being to adapt to its environment and to deal with the many ongoing and changes it faces is the hallmark of a healthy body. That we can withstand day to day events that challenge our nervous system, and subsequently our immune system, is a reflection that our body is working very efficiently. This all comes back to your adrenal glands and their ability to adapt.

Understanding the connection between how events affect our stress adaptation system, primarily the adrenal glands, and how the adrenal's hyper-secretions under stress can create havoc with the digestive and immune systems is important. This allows us to make informed lifestyle choices that will preserve and respect our body and our long term health.

Variations In Stress

Most of us do not know what stressors are. We tend towards the idea that emotional upset is what constitutes stress. However, there are 12 major categories of stress that can impact our body and health. Unfortunately, we are subject to these stressors on a regular basis.

A stressor is any activity or event that requires the body to change or adapt in order to maintain its homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, it becomes essential to know the factors we must be mindful of in order to keep our stress levels in check.

Below is a list of the stressors to be aware of in your day to day life:

  • Weather (exposure to hot or cold)
  • Sleep and Rest (specifically, not getting enough)
  • Infection or Silent Inflammation  
  • Allergies (all types)
  • Dental or Medical Procedures and Surgeries
  • Reproduction  (for women: menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause)
  • Sexual Activity
  • Nutrition  (too many calories or non-nutritious food) 
  • Exertion and Exercise (too much or not enough)
  • Trauma (any form)
  • Fear, Anxiety, Worry  (ongoing)
  • Loss or grief

By keeping your stress level low, you will reduce wear and tear on your body parts that, in the long term, can lead to chronic illness and disease. It is not the stress itself that makes you sick, but the ongoing wear on the body that causes dysfunction and dis-ease.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Life

There are many ways to reduce stress and maintain a balanced nervous system. While the list is endless here are some of the most popular ways to do so: (1) Exercise regularly. (2) Listen to soothing music. (3) Practice Yoga. (4) Participate in sports. (5) Tend a garden.

Each person finds their best way to relax and de-stress. It is something we all need to do on a regular basis to balance or nervous systems and stay healthy!

 

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Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Susannah Conway, author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, said it best when she wrote, “Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything.” But what does a healthy relationship with ourselves look like? And how can we develop a good relationship with ourselves if we are unsure of what that is or what that looks like?

A good relationship with ourselves would look the same way a good relationship with anyone looks. It entails respect, kindness, awareness, fulfillment, having needs met, friendship and creating stress-free memories.Here are some ways that we can cultivate a good relationship with ourselves that will influence the relationships we have with others.

Start With Self-Care
We need to look after our physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual needs to nourish ourselves on many level. Focusing on caring for ourselves in this most basic way establishes self-respect and healthy habits. It also sends a message of self-love to ourselves, which is the most important component of caring for oneself.

Make Time For What Is Important To You
If you feel good taking time for your first cup of coffee or browsing the bookstore to find a perfect book that uplifts or entertains you, be sure to take the time on a regular basis to give this gift to yourself and brighten your day. Whatever your favorite soothing activity is, be sure to carve out space in your schedule to allow such experiences.

Identify And Set Boundaries
The boundaries we establish for ourselves will have a great impact on the boundaries we set in our relationships. By not allowing ourselves to work too hard, play too little and spend too much, we will be looking out for ourselves as well as identifying appropriate ways to interact with others. Moderation in how we live and avoiding extremes is an ideal way to be centered and stay in that healthy zone.

Be Your Best Friend
Because a relationship with ourselves is the only relationship we can depend on having every single day of our lives, it is most important that we are our own best friends. By developing a positive, nurturing and loving relationship with the most important aspect of our lives (that is, ourselves), we build a strong foundation for all other relationships that follow.

It is often said that we continually repeat the relationship we develop with ourselves with all the other relationships we have in our lives, so it is essential that it is a caring, respectful and nourishing one.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

 

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Can One Drink a Day Increase Your Cancer Risk?

By now, everyone has heard about the benefits of red wine — that it’s packed with heart-healthy antioxidants and resveratrol, which may reduce bad cholesterol and help prevent blood clots [1]. But, as doctors have long known, there is another alcohol and cancer link. Namely, drinking alcohol is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.

The Research

The Million Women study followed the behaviors, lifestyles and reproductive habits of women over the course of a seven-year period. It found that 13 percent of certain cancers were linked to alcohol use [2]. Women who were heavy drinkers were more likely to be affected. The cancers linked to alcohol use included: mouth, throat, esophageal, breast, liver and rectal.

Certain types of cancer are more pervasive depending on one’s alcohol habits. For example, mouth cancer affects up to 70 percent of heavy alcohol drinkers. Those imbibing five or more alcoholic drinks per day are more likely to suffer from cancers of the upper digestive tract. Three or more drinks per day can increase cancer risk by up to 41 percent in men. Two or more drinks per day increases the risk by 20 percent in women.

All Or Nothing

With news like this, it’s understandable that some people might rush to clear out their liquor cabinets and completely abstain from even “one more drink.” The key, however, is knowing that cancer deaths linked to alcohol overall is quite small — an estimated 2 to 4 percent. But it’s still worth noting that these deaths could have been prevented just by enjoying alcohol in moderation.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, doctors still acknowledge the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine. It appears to be good for the heart, and promising research has been done on the topic of resveratrol. However, the resveratrol studies have so far only been performed on mice — not humans [3]. To get the measured benefits of resveratrol noted in the studies, you would have to drink 15 gallons of red wine every day!

Is Red Really Best?

There are also noted benefits found in the alcohol itself, such as a 25-40 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease with moderate drinking [4]. These specific conditions include: peripheral vascular disease, ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot), sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular issues. Moderate amounts of alcohol also raise the body’s “good” cholesterol. There are additional social aspects, such as drinking with friends or a stress-relieving drink at the end of a hard day of work [5].

The specific type of alcohol involved in reducing cardiovascular risk does not seem to matter — beer, wine, vodka and other types all seem to bestow the same effects.

With this in mind, what are the best ways to drink in moderation safely?

  • Time Frame Matters: Someone who has 5-7 drinks on a Friday night might think they’re getting the same benefits as someone who has one drink a day (if they can think straight at all), but binging on alcohol can have the opposite effect, including liver and other organ damage. Spread your alcohol consumption over a longer time period rather than guzzling it all at once.
     
  • Drink With a Meal: Having food in your stomach slows the rate of alcohol absorption, which is why more people feel hungover after drinking on an empty stomach. Drinking before a meal may also aid digestion.
     
  • Know Your Risks: If you have a family history of breast cancer, for example, it’s probably not a good idea to hit the bottle often. Understand the genetic links between alcoholism and cancer as it applies to your unique makeup.
     
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your drinking habits. Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can interact with alcohol and lead to severe side effects. Tell your doctor how many drinks you have per day (on average) and ask whether or not this may affect the medicines you’re taking.

In Summary

Knowing the risks and benefits of drinking is about more than just issuing “one size fits all” advice. Your family history, genetic makeup and susceptibility to cancer and alcoholism should all play a role in your decision to drink.

Even your mental health (such as whether or not you’re suffering from depression) can upset the balance and lead to addiction. Other factors such as your gender, level of physical activity, smoking habits and so forth will also play a role in how much alcohol your body can realistically tolerate, and if the health payoff is truly worth it.

 

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