For alcohol, the difference between healthy and horrible lies in the numerical value of drink, where drink is 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of 80 proof. A drink a day for women, and two a day for men is the broad limit of moderation — and past that lies a land of severe consequence. But before that threshold is reached, science argues that getting tipsy may be a good idea for your health and longevity. Here’s why:
#1. It eases stress.
Alright, maybe not the most surprising of benefits, but it’s a massive health factor nonetheless. A depressant, alcohol sedates you slightly after a stressful day at work, sparing your body from the effects of long-term stress. Past a certain point, however, alcohol induces a mental state of mortal danger — so take it easy.
#2. It erases social anxiety.
Alcohol is an anxiolytic drug — that means it inhibits the effects of anxiety, which, combined with its depressant properties, makes it the perfect social lubricant — and while there are times when that isn’t a good thing, being among (the right) people is scientifically essential to anybody’s well-being.
#3. It’s good for the heart.
When wine was first revealed to be heart-friendly, everyone’s finger pointed to the resveratrol within red grape skins — but with more research, it’s been discovered that the same benefits may translate through to other alcoholic drinks. Moderate drinking statistically reduces risk of heart disease — research points to other antioxidants, and alcohol’s ability to raise HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood stream.
#4. It (sort of) makes you less prone to injury.
Alcohol slows your central nervous system and your reflexes, meaning you’ll most likely be limp when hit or in an accident. It’s speculated that this reduces the amount of force your body absorbs, allowing your bones and organs to remain relatively unscathed because the impact travels through them — the evidence is anecdotal, though.
#5. It calms you down.
Being a psychoactive drug, one of the primary uses for alcohol is to calm down in a tense situation. Alcohol also promotes sleep, although that doesn’t mean its an efficient sedative, due to the fact that it disrupts your metabolism mid-slumber. Beware of using alcohol to calm your nerves after a deep cut, as alcohol is a vasodilator (meaning it dilates blood vessels).
#6. It can protect your brain from cognitive deterioration.
Moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of dementia later in life, according to multiple studies. It’s a u-shaped statistic, though — drinking heavily/frequently, or drinking no alcohol at all increases the risk of dementia.
#7. It inhibits inflammation.
Like most things on this list, this is completely dependent on how much you drink. Drinking too much increases your risk for inflammation, and even causes inflammation in several parts of the body. Drinking a little, however, inhibits reactants that cause an inflammatory reaction.
#8. It staves off diabetes.
There seem to be beneficial effects to drinking alcohol on an infrequent basis (not daily, even in moderation), so far that it may actually improve glucose tolerance in diabetics. However, moderate consumption of alcohol in non-diabetics reduces their risk in comparison to nondrinkers and heavy drinkers.