With 3.1 million of us doing Dry January this year, according to a YouGov poll, having a month off the sauce is now a big thing in Britain.
There’s many good reasons to give it a rest once in a while: alcohol is linked to cancer, weight gain, depression and other problems.
But (for those of us who’ve failed, or aren’t trying Dry January), you’ll be relieved to know that alcohol does have some upsides, healthwise.
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Here’s a few ways alcohol could actually be good for you (in moderation, of course).
Red wine might slow down the ageing process
A 2005 study in the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis suggested that wine drinkers tend to live longer than beer drinkers.
Many scientists believe that resveratrol, a chemical found in wine, may have an effect on longevity.
Resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, is believed to stop brain cells breaking down as we get older.
Professor Gregorio Valdez, of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute said, ‘I believe we are getting closer to tapping into mechanisms to slow age induced degeneration of neuronal circuits.’
Booze can make your heart healthier
Drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly can lower people’s risk of heart failure, according to Imre Janszky of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Small amounts, regularly, is the best way to go, Janszky says – and it doesn’t matter whether a person drinks wine, beer or spirits.
He says, ‘It’s primarily the alcohol that leads to more good cholesterol, among other things.’
But alcohol can also cause higher blood pressure, so it’s best to drink moderate amounts relatively often.’
Champagne can improve your memory
Professor Jeremy Spencer found that rats who drank champagne every day were much better at doing mazes than more abstinent rats.
Professor Spencer said, ‘The research is exciting because it illustrates for the first time that moderate consumption of champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning such as memory.
Beer reduces your risk of strokes
A Harvard study found that moderate beer drinkers can reduce their risk of strokes by up to 50% compared to non-drinkers.
It’s all to do with blood flow – when you drink beer, your arteries become more flexible and blood flow improves, meaning that blood clots are less likely to block the flow of blood to your brain.
Wine can boost your brain
Moderate wine drinking in old age might help people retain memory function – with a University of Arizona study showing improvement in memory quizzes.
Women in their 70s who drank at least one glass of wine per day outperformed those who didn’t.
Tedd Goldfinger of the University of Arizona School of Medicine said, ‘Wine helps prevent clots and reduces blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease.’
The NHS advises men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
Advice on the health risks of heavy drinking can be found here.