Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Think a Little Alcohol Might Be Healthy? Think Again

Wine lovers, beer drinkers and those who enjoy a martini now and then have long been told that moderate drinking beats total abstinence.

Unfortunately, new German research is throwing some cold water on that advice, finding that premature death among non-drinkers is likely the result of unrelated health problems that have little to do with the decision to forgo Chardonnay or Tanqueray.

“For many years, the belief in medical care was that low-to-moderate alcohol drinking may add to health, in particular to cardiovascular health,” said lead researcher Ulrich John.

Red wine in particular, he noted, has received a lot of attention for its purported ability to give moderate drinkers a longevity leg up over abstainers.

“This does not seem to be justified in the light of the present study,” said John, a professor emeritus of prevention research and social medicine with the Institute of Community Medicine at University Medicine Greifswald, in Germany.

Why? Because “the majority among abstainers seem to have severe risk factors in their life” that existed before any decision to not drink.

In a report published online Nov. 2 in PLOS Medicine, John and his colleagues presented results of a survey of more than 4,000 German men and women who were 18 to 64 years of age when they were interviewed between 1996 and 1997.

All were asked to reveal their drinking habits in the preceding year, along with information about their overall health history, and alcohol and drug use. Death data were available from a follow-up 20 years later.

Just over 11% said they had abstained from alcohol during the prior year. But about nine in 10 of them said they had been drinkers at one time, the findings showed. Nearly three-quarters had at least one major risk factor for early death, including risky alcohol consumption and tobacco use.


Among abstainers, just over one-third said they had a prior alcohol abuse problem, while about half said they smoked daily, for instance. About 11% described their overall health status as “fair” or “poor.”

The investigators also found that premature death from cancer or heart disease was no higher among the abstainers who had no other health risk factors than it was among low-to-moderate drinkers.

“We were surprised by the large proportion of those who had former alcohol or drug use disorders among the abstainers,” John said.

But in the end, he added, “the majority of alcohol abstainers had severe health risk factors that might explain the greater likelihood to die early, in contrast to the low-to-moderate drinkers.”

John’s advice: “Please do not drink alcohol for health reasons.” If a healthy life is the goal, he added, “the optimum is not to drink alcohol.”

The findings come as little surprise to Lona Sandon, program director of the department of clinical nutrition at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

There is no compelling reason a non-drinker should start using alcohol in order to promote health or reduce risk of disease, she said.

“And for people with high risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, any amount of alcohol is not recommended,” Sandon added.

But what about all the reported health benefits of red wine?

In an online report, the Mayo Clinic acknowledged that antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, while polyphenols such as resveratrol have been said to help limit blood vessel damage and reduce blood clotting risk.

Could that mean that red wine is the exception to the new advice? So far, the research aiming to prove as much has been inconclusive, according to the Mayo Clinic report.

And Sandon cautioned that when it comes to promoting health, “red wine does not make up for poor diet, and lack of exercise or other healthy habits.”

She recalled a client who was an avid runner.

“She wanted to lose some body fat in hopes to improve her running times,” Sandon said. “She was also drinking red wine on a near daily basis as she believed it to be a healthy habit.”

As it turned out, the woman was actually drinking the equivalent of two to three drinks a day. “At this amount, it is no longer healthy, and the extra calories were not helping her to reach her weight-loss goals,” Sandon said.

Her advice: “Don’t fool yourself into thinking red wine is the fountain of youth. It may actually do more harm than good.”

SOURCES: Ulrich John, PhD, professor emeritus, prevention research and social medicine, Institute of Community Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Germany; Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, LD, program director and associate professor, clinical nutrition, School of Health Professions, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Mayo Clinic, “Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?”, Oct. 22, 2019; PLOS Medicine, Nov. 2, 2021, online

By Alan Mozes  HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) 

source: www.webmd.com

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Fun Fact Friday


  • It’s ok and “I’m fine” are the two most common lies spoken in the world.

  • Marijuana was initially made illegal in 1937 by a man who testified the drug made white women want to be with black men.


  • Giving up alcohol for just one month can improve liver function, decrease blood pressure, and reduce the risk of liver disease and diabetes.

  • Research has shown that people are happiest at 7:26pm on Saturday evening.


~ Happy Friday!~

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Alcohol Responsible For More Hospital Admissions Than Heart Attacks Last Year: Report

Measurement could be ‘an important indicator for monitoring public health’


There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year
for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks,
the Canadian Institute for Health Information said.

There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks.

Alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol” accounted for about 77,000 admissions, according to a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

That’s 212 each day, on average, not including those who were treated in emergency departments and released.

The 2015–2016 year was the first time CIHI has looked at this statistic, believing that its impact on the health system can provide insight generally into the harms caused by alcohol.

“Our expectation is that this will be an important indicator for monitoring public health,” said Geoff Hynes, manager of the Canadian Population Health Initiative for CIHI. “We can look at patterns, which could inform what governments and the health system can do to address these high numbers.”

alcohol hospitalizations
(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

In  the absence of any previous data to compare, CIHI related the figure to that of admissions for heart attacks in the same period, which was 75,000.

Leading cause of injury and death

Excessive drinking carries a number of known health risks, including illnesses such as pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease — not to mention the risk of death.

In 2015, there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in Canada, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation cited by CIHI.

In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada says alcohol is a leading cause of injury and death in Canada, including those resulting from impaired driving and from illnesses with known links to alcohol, like certain types of cancer.

Costs to the health care system, to society

Alcohol abuse doesn’t harm just the abuser; there are measurable societal costs, too.

For instance, in 2014–2015, the average cost for hospitalization that was entirely caused by alcohol was estimated at $8,100, compared to the average hospital stay for other causes at $5,800. That’s mostly because of longer stays (11 days on average compared to seven days, respectively).

Taking into account law enforcement, lost productivity as well as prevention and research initiatives, the estimated total cost of alcohol-related harm in Canada was more than $14 billion in 2002, the most recent year for which this data is available, CIHI said. About $3.3 billion of that was directly related to health care.

There are also broader social implications, the report said, such as unemployment, crime and the “substantial” impacts on people other than the drinker. These include injuries related to assault, workplace accidents, motor vehicle collisions, family disruption, violence and lost income.

The toll on families, coworkers and communities is impossible to tally because the relationships between consumption and harm are complex, Hynes said. These are influenced by things like individual, cultural and social factors, as well as how government regulates consumption and accessibility.

​Provincial, territorial variations

On average, there were more alcohol-related hospitalizations in the territories than in the provinces, and more in the west than in the east, with the exception of Nova Scotia. But regional variations can’t be easily explained.

Generally, where sales of alcohol are higher — measured in volume of litres per capita — there was also a higher prevalence of heavy drinking (five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women on one occasion at least once a month over a one-year period). And the rates of hospitalization typically followed: B.C., Alberta, Northwest Territories and Yukon had high rates of all three.

But in Quebec, where rates of sales and heavy drinking were both higher than the Canadian average, hospitalizations were low.

“So we know there is something else playing out,” Hynes said.

While no one factor accounts for the differences, CIHI pointed to significant variations in the “alcohol policy landscapes” across Canada.

For instance, B.C. had the highest rate of alcohol-related hospitalizations among the provinces. It also had a period of rapid growth in privatization of alcohol sales, which one study suggested was associated with an increase in alcohol-related deaths.

Pricing controls are another area that varies from region to region: some have minimum prices for items at retail, others have minimum prices set at bars and restaurants, and still others index the price of liquor to inflation or to alcohol content.

harm caused by alcohol
(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

“For us, those differences represent opportunities for potential improvement,” Hynes said. “Measuring this, and monitoring these rates can help us identify whether the policies and approaches are effective in reducing alcohol harm.”
And pricing, Hynes said, is “one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce alcohol harm, population-wide.”

Basically, making liquor more expensive should curb consumption, as it did with cigarettes. Reducing hours of availability and number of stores, the report said, is also associated with reducing consumption.

It will take “a strategy that brings together multiple effective policies,” Hynes said.

By Sherry Noik, CBC News         Jun 22, 2017 
source: www.cbc.ca

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Study Finds Alcohol Makes You Aggressive; Pot, Pretty Much the Opposite

Pot heads are mellow, drunks can be mean. That’s the common wisdom, and now, thanks to a group of researchers from the Netherlands, it has some scientific validation. In a just-published study in the journal Psychopharmacology, they found that—doh!—people on  booze act out, while people on pot peacefully space out.

“The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression,” the researchers concluded.

The study itself sounds like fun. In a random, controlled trial, the researchers recruited 21 heavy pot smokers (at least three times a week), 20 heavy drinkers (at least three drinks a day for men, two for women), and a control group of 20 who used neither substance heavily.


They then had the drinkers drink until they were too drunk to legally drive (0.08% blood alcohol level) and the tokers vape up 300 micrograms of THC per kilogram of body weight, enough to get them nicely baked. The control group, being the control group, missed out on the intoxicants.

Then all three groups completed a number of tests designed to get people wound up. In one, subjects played a computer game in which the object was to win money by pressing buttons, but players’ efforts were undermined by an “adversary” that took money from them. The adversary was actually part of the computer program. In a second test, known as a “single category implicit association test,” subjects were shown images of violent and aggressive behavior and asked to match positive and negative words to the photos.

The researchers measured aggression by asking the subjects to rate how aggressive they felt on a 100-point scale, and weighed that against a baseline score established by asking them the same question before they had gotten wasted. And they ran the tests one more time a week later, with the same subjects, but without getting them high or drunk.

“Alcohol intoxication increased subjective aggression in the alcohol group,” the researchers found, but pot smokers became less aggressive when baked.

It wasn’t just subjective. While alcohol drinkers rated themselves as more aggressive when drunk, they were also found to be objectively more aggressive, as measured by their willingness to undermine their opponents in the computer game.

We already know that marijuana is a less harmful drug than alcohol, being both far less toxic and less addictive than booze. And now we get some scientific backing for something else that was already patently obvious.

By Phillip Smith       AlterNet       July 23, 2016       Hold the presses
Philip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.
source: www.alternet.org 




Harm Caused By Drugs Table



How to Reverse the Negative Effects of Marijuana Consumption

Every substance we put into our bodies has an impact on our mind and body functions. Marijuana is the most used illegal substance in the world. Millions of North Americans smoke marijuana occasionally (occasional users) while others use it on a regular basis (chronic users). As mentioned before, marijuana has a series of short and long term effects in several dimensions of the human body, and it’s not as light as presented, especially if there is an addiction or history of extended use, since often an addiction has tragic effects on the addict and their relatives. In this article we will address how to minimize the negative effects of marijuana. If you enjoy smoking or taking this drug, this could be a perfect way to minimize the possible guilt of using the substance and minimizing the negative side effects.

Minimizing and Reversing the Negative Effects of Chronic Marijuana Consumption

• Most people who use smoke their marijuana. Try using a vaporizer to minimize the side effects of the smoke in lungs. Marijuana could be a risk factor in pulmonary diseases like bronchitis or emphysema.
• Give yourself a break! The best way to minimize the effects of marijuana is by taking progressively fewer doses and progressively sensitizing the brain to low quantities. Sensitize is a reverse toleration. Toleration is a common phenomenon in substance abuse and is described as the need for higher substance concentrations to get the same effect . This occurs at a molecular level, where there the neurons get used to a particular quantity of the metabolites involved. If you take a periodic breaks from smoking, from 1 day to 1+ years, you’ll find the effects are stronger, because the brain starts to rebuild and to rest from the intense neurochemical firing, particularly in the brain reward center. If you don’t wish to stop smoking at all, take a few breaks every now and then to rest your brain and lungs, and clean your liver and blood from the chemicals involved. If you cannot stop, it may be a warning sign that you are addicted to cannabis.
• Move your body. Exercise. Smoking harms the body in 1000 different ways and scientists are still learning the effects of smoking in each of our cells. Exercise improves circulation, oxygen absorption, and appropriate wasting of toxins. Exercise is a preventive measure for lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It improves cognitive function as well, use exercise to improve your cardiovascular, mood and energy levels.
• Cognitive training. There is a debate if the popular brain gym training pages that circulates through internet are beneficial or not. Some propose that these type of games won’t transfer to real world situations. However, some studies suggest a positive effect in everyday functional outcomes. Games like chess, memory match, scrabble, puzzles, or hand coordination games like jenga, may be beneficial and help the brain to function even better.
• Yoga and anxiety. Some people use marijuana to relieve stress and to avoid anxiety. If you are less anxious, you will probably decrease the desire to smoke. Yoga and meditation have been shown to decrease social anxiety in several populations and improve quality of life. The focused attention on breath and sensations have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Detox. The by-products in marijuana are stored in fatty acids and secreted by sweat, feces, and urine. Some of the metabolites can store in your body for months, depending in the doses taken and body fat. Try fasting or detoxification with raw food and juice smoothies.

By Andres Carvajal         Edited by Stephanie Dawson        Aug 19, 2013
  • Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 593–600
  • Mendonca GV, Pereira FD, Fernhall B. Effects of cigarette smoking on cardiac autonomic function during dynamic exercise. J Sports Sci. 2011 Jun;29(9):879-86

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Alcohol Causes 7 Kinds of Cancer, Study Concludes

Alcohol researcher Jennie Connor says the link is a causal one and that no alcohol is considered safe and risk does go up as you drink.

Alcohol is a direct cause of seven forms of cancer. Tough words to swallow, but those are the conclusions of researchers from New Zealand, who say they found that no matter how much you drink, alcohol will increase your risk of cancer.

“There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others,” the authors write in the latest issue of the journal Addiction.

Those seven cancer sites are:

  • liver
  • colon
  • rectum
  • female breast
  • larynx, (the throat organ commonly called the voice box)
  • orolarynx (the middle part of the pharynx) behind the mouth
  • esophagus (commonly the “food pipe”)

The researchers from the University of Otago reviewed previous studies and meta-analyses, analyzing all the major studies done over the last decade on alcohol and cancer. They include studies from such prestigious names as the American Institute for Cancer Research and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.


Several of these studies drew links between alcohol and cancer. But lead researcher Jennie Connor, the chair in preventive and social medicine at the university, says her team wanted to know if there was evidence of a causal relationship — meaning that alcohol was the direct cause of some of these cancers.

“And the first conclusion of the paper is that there is very strong evidence that the link we see between drinking and cancer in all these studies is a causal one,” Connor told CTV News Channel from Dunedin, New Zealand.

In fact, the team estimates that of all cancer deaths worldwide, 5.8 per cent of them can be attributed to alcohol.

The link between alcohol and cancer was strongest with cancer of the larynx and orolarynx than with the other cancers

Perhaps not surprisingly, the team found a “dose-response relationship” between alcohol and cancer, meaning that the more that a person drinks, the higher their risk to develop cancer.
So what constitutes a “safe” level of drinking?

“There doesn’t seem to be any threshold below which drinking is actually safe with respect to cancer,” Connor said.

“So the straightforward obvious answer to your question is that no alcohol is safe, and any alcohol increases your risk of some types of cancer.”

One bit of good news is that the cancer risk will drop for those who quit drinking, falling back to risk levels similar to “never drinkers” after 20 years.
As for what it is about alcohol that causes cancer, the researchers aren’t sure, as their paper was not designed to answer such questions.

“Confirmation of specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause,” they wrote.

This is not the first paper to conclude that alcohol is carcinogenic, and yet there persists a perception that a small amount of alcohol is not only safe but beneficial.

Many point to studies that found that drinking wine is good for the heart increases longevity. Connor says that there are a still a lot of myths about alcohol out there.

“(These myths) arise from research that has been updated now, or discredited, or there’s more doubt about it than they used to be,” she said.

“This paper also examines the connection between alcohol and being good for your heart – coronary disease – and it finds that evidence base is actually quite weak. So information evolves over time.”

Friday, July 22, 2016     CTVNews.ca Staff


The Health Benefits of Drinking a Little Pinot Noir Wine Everyday

by Ireland Wolfe, Demand Media

Instead of drinking soda, consider drinking wine nightly with your dinner. Like all red wines, pinot noir contains polyphenols, antioxidants that can protect your heart. A specific type of polyphenol, resveratrol, is likely responsible for many of the health benefits. The resveratrol content varies depending on the region where the pinot noir is produced, but generally, the wine is high in this vital antioxidant.

Heart Benefits
Much research suggests that resveratrol may have a number of heart-healthy benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Resvaratrol may help to lower your bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, prevent blood clots and reduce inflammation. Although most studies have been animal-research or in vivo studies, a 2012 article published in “Pharmacological Research” examined the link between red wine and cardiovascular disease in 1,000 high-risk human subjects. The cross-sectional study looked at subjects with resveratrol in their bloodstream and compared their consumption of wine to their cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers found that subjects who drank wine had better heart rates and lower fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels than those who did not.

Cancer Prevention
Drinking moderate amounts of pinot noir may help to inhibit the development of certain types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Researchers have examined resveratrol on many different types of cancer, such as leukemia, skin and prostate cancers, through in vivo and animal studies. A 2008 study published in “Cell Death and Differentiation” looked at resveratrol on breast cancer cells. Researchers found that resveratrol could contribute to cell death in breast cancer cells. However, more research, especially on human subjects, is needed.

Pinot noir is a type of red wine.

Neurological Benefits
Pinot noir also may have neurological advantages. The resveratrol in pinot noir may help to prevent neurological diseases. A 2011 review published in the “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences” examined stilbenoid compounds, which are found in resveratrol. Researchers stated that resveratrol showed favorable results in the treatment and prevention of degenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Despite these promising health benefits, alcohol, including red wine, can cause health problems. Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure, liver disease, obesity and high cholesterol. Alcohol can be addictive, and you should drink red wine only in moderation. The Mayo Clinic states that drinking in moderation means only one glass of red wine for women. Pregnant women, people with certain chronic diseases or those who take some types of medication should avoid alcohol. Talk to your doctor for specific recommendations.


  • MayoClinic.com Red Wine and Resveratrol: Good for Your Heart?
  • Wellness Made Natural: Oregon Pinot Noir and Resveratrol: A Match Made in Wine Heaven
  • Pharmacological Research: High Urinary Levels of Resveratrol Metabolites are Associated With a Reduction in the Prevalence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in High-Risk Patients
  • National Cancer Institute: Red Wine and Cancer Prevention: Fact Sheet
  • Cell Death and Differentiation: Role of Non-Canonical Beclin 1-Independent Autophagy in Cell Death Induced by Resveratrol in Human Breast Cancer Cells
  • Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Neuroprotective Properties of Resveratrol and Derivatives

About the Author
Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.

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Drink More Safely This Holiday Season

Many of us will imbibe over the holidays,
but we can avoid needless suffering with some common sense advice.

By Chrisanne Grise      Substance.com    December 9, 2014

Let the fun begin! December is a month full of parties—and for many people, booze. Great. But if you are going out, it’s important to be smart about your drinking. There’s nothing merry about a hangover, after all, especially if you did something you regret…whether or not you remember it the next day. So how can we celebrate the season with alcohol, if that’s our choice, and still stay safe?

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself and cutting loose a bit during the holidays,” points out Kenneth Anderson. He’s the founder and executive director of the HAMS harm reduction for alcohol network, the author of How to Change Your Drinking and a regular Substance.com contributor—in other words, the perfect person to ask about safer drinking.

While Anderson has no desire to dampen festive spirits, he’s also very aware of how dangerous drinking-gone-wrong can be. “Always plan for safety above all,” he says. “Death is always worse than a hangover.” Well, that’s for sure. So I asked him, along with a few moderate or not-so-moderate young drinkers, for some safer drinking suggestions.

Plan ahead

Figure out your transportation plans before you leave the house, so you won’t have any issues returning home, even if you’re inebriated. And if possible, always travel with friends, so you can look out for each other.

A spontaneous night of drinking with friends is fine—they’re sometimes the best kind. But if you’re going out frequently during the holidays, you’ll do better to arrange your schedule so you avoid alcohol-based socializing multiple days in a row. It may sound nerdy, but your body will thank you for it.

Keep listening to your body, too; make sure you get plenty of sleep in advance, so that you head out feeling well-rested, rather than fatigued. And some prior awareness of how much alcohol your body can handle is also invaluable.

“The major thing that’s helped me feel better is being realistic about how much I can drink now,” says 24-year-old Allison from New York City. “I can’t down eight beers a night like I did in college and feel fine the next morning.” These days, she knows and accepts that four drinks are her absolute limit—and she sticks to that. Once you’ve found out (hopefully not the hard way) how many drinks your body can withstand, it’s well worth making a similar rule.

If you think you may have trouble sticking to your self-defined limits, Anderson recommends writing out a plan for each situation you might encounter to keep your consumption at your chosen level. If a friend insists on drinking a shot with you, for example, you could sip yours slowly over half an hour even if he pounds his down. If Mom insists that everyone have wine with dinner, you can make one glass last the whole meal by drinking water too. And if you think you’ll need a reminder of your plan in the moment, write it down and carry the paper in your pocket. Luckily, the kind of situations you’ll encounter aren’t too hard to predict, which makes preparation a whole lot easier.

Eat and hydrate well

Speaking of preparation, what better form could it take than hearty eating? Drinking on an empty stomach is a bad move, because the alcohol will hit your bloodstream—and get you drunker—faster. Instead, help yourself to some fatty food first—fattier foods slow alcohol absorption most effectively, Anderson says. Make sure you drink lots of water before and during your night out too, because alcohol will dehydrate you, and you’ll drink more booze if you’re thirsty.

“I’ve gotten dehydrated from drinking to the point where I’ve passed out days later because I never replenished those electrolytes,” says 27-year-old Brooke, who also lives in New York. Staying well hydrated will ensure that you stay safer and feel better—both while you’re out and while you’re recovering the next day.


Choose your drink carefully

In theory, all alcohol is the same—whatever the drink that contains it—and if everyone drank it at the same rate, it would have the same effect. But as most of us know, it doesn’t always work that way in practice.

“People tend to drink different kinds of alcohol at very different rates,” Anderson says. “This is why people barhopping and switching from beer to whiskey to gin tend to wind up with puking blackouts.”

You may well find it easier (and safer) to stick with beer or wine instead of doing shots with buddies. And if you usually drink vodka too fast but find you can maintain a steady pace with bourbon, take advantage of that habit. It all comes back to knowing what works for you.

“Generally, the lower the alcohol content and the stronger the flavor, the slower people will drink,” says Anderson. “A careful plan of a pre-dinner cocktail, a wine with dinner, and two standard after-dinner drinks will be fine. Chugging a bottle of wine, a six-pack of beer and a pint of gin will leave you with the blind staggers.”

That said, if you choose a mixed drink, Anderson warns that carbonated drinks are absorbed more quickly by the body. What’s more, drinks made with diet soda result in higher blood alcohol content levels than those made with regular soda. So if you’re ordering a beverage with soda in it, be sure to take it slow.

Finally, choosing your drink wisely doesn’t just apply to which type of alcohol you pick: Never let a stranger pour your drink.

Pace yourself

There’s just no need to chug your beer, no matter what the rest of your buddies are up to.

“Sometimes when I start a drink, I give myself a minimum amount of time that needs to go by before I can finish it,” says 30-year-old Robert from Los Angeles. “I feel better that way, but I also figure I’ll enjoy the beverage more if I go slow than if I down it all at once.”

As well as the enjoyment factor, this is also a pretty good strategy to keep yourself from blacking out—so much so that Anderson also recommends using a watch to measure the pace of your consumption if necessary. Be sure to stick to a pace that works for you, and don’t let anyone pressure you to speed up. Alternating between booze and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night can be a good way to handle this.

Skip the aspirin—and just about every other drug

You may have heard rumors that taking aspirin before a night of heavy drinking can prevent a hangover. But this is actually a terrible idea. “If you take aspirin before drinking, you will get much drunker on the same amount of alcohol,” Andersen explains. This apparently tends to affect men more than women, but is ultimately dangerous for both sexes.

However, it is generally safe to take an aspirin at the end of the night, as long as you have no tendency to stomach ulcers. (Take it with a big glass of water to help prevent dehydration the next day.)

Mixing alcohol with other drugs can be just asking for trouble. Drug/alcohol combos that are particularly dangerous, as rates of ER visits and overdose can attest, include opioids, benzos and cocaine—but that’s by no means an exhaustive list. Even excessive amounts of something as innocuous-seeming as caffeine can be risky, by encouraging you to keep drinking for much longer than you normally would.

If you’re in any doubt about whether the drug you’re taking is safe with alcohol, by far the safest thing to do is avoid booze entirely, at least until you can check with a medical practitioner.

Deal with your hangover safely

If you ignore all this wise advice and end up with a horrible hangover after all, the best thing to do is rehydrate and eat some food. Chocolate milk, tomatoes, bananas, and herbal teas are all good options. (Here’s an in-depth list of hangover cures—and here’s the ultra-expensive alternative, if you’re in NYC.)

But don’t just chug vast quantities of water, as that can lead to water intoxication, warns Anderson. In addition, mild exercise like yoga or walking may help you feel better.

Ignore the haters

Drinking should always be a choice—not something you feel pressured into, no matter what the occasion. If your family or friends give you a hard time about abstaining from alcohol on New Year’s Eve, Anderson suggests telling them you’re on antibiotics. Or you can quietly drink near-beer, grape juice, or soda and they will likely not even notice a difference.

Whatever your choice, the holidays can be fun with or without booze. “If you don’t want to drink at all, that is your right too,” Anderson says. “You will find nowadays that more and more people respect that.”

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License to Sin: How to Dodge a Devilish Self-Control Loophole

 You want another slice of cake or glass of wine, but you know you shouldn’t have one.

It’s the classic self-control dilemma.
But luckily there’s a loophole; sometimes we mentally give ourselves permission to indulge: “Well, I’ve worked hard today, so I’ll have another slice of cake or glass of wine.”
Now there’s a ‘license to sin’.
A recent study cleverly demonstrates this ‘license to sin’ and shows how dangerous it can be (de Witt Huberts et al., 2012).

A little snack

To investigate, the researchers tricked one group of people into thinking they’d worked twice as hard on a boring test as another group.
Both groups were then asked to do a ‘taste test’ of some rather tempting looking snacks.
The group that thought they’d worked harder now had more of a ‘license to sin’ as a reward to themselves.
And sure enough they ate, on average, 130 calories more in 10 minutes than the other group.
It’s fascinating that the participants did this without being told they’d worked harder or being given any other cues.
Also remember that, on average, both groups had their mental self-control muscles depleted the same amount as they’d both spent the same time doing the boring task.

Avoid the loophole

What this study is showing is that these well-worn mental thought processes can be insidious. The mind has all sorts of tricks it plays so that it can get what it wants.
The ‘license to sin’ is one of them. You want to over-indulge, so your mind creates this little story that says: I’ve worked hard, so I deserve it.
The clever thing is that it can completely bypass all those logical, rational things we’ve told ourselves about healthy eating (or whatever it is) and, non-coincidentally, we get what we want.
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves from time-to-time, but the question is: how often is the license to sin being invoked?
It’s a way of allowing our misbehaviour that is like an exception we all know about, but somehow don’t pull ourselves up on.
Being more aware of, and watching out for this trick may be useful in bolstering our self-control.
source: PsyBlog

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4 Worst December Diet Mistakes

December 9, 2013 | By Tina Haupert

It’s that time of year again when holiday calories lurk around every corner. Family parties, office get-togethers, Saturday night soirees… you get the picture.

But even if you try to be “good” around the holidays and stick to your healthy habits, you could still be committing diet mistakes that leave you a few pounds heavier come New Year’s. Avoid these December diet blunders!

Skipping meals to save calories for later
You might think “saving” your calories for a splurge later in the day (a holiday party, for example) is a smart idea, but you might actually be setting yourself up for a diet disaster. If you haven’t eaten all day, you’re likely to overindulge the second you are faced with a spread of appetizing food. Instead, eat normally and make small calories reductions all day long. For instance, hold the cheese on your breakfast sandwich or skip the dressing from your lunchtime salad. Those little changes add up, so when it’s time to splurge later on, you’ll have “saved” calories without starving yourself all day, which, of course, makes navigating temping party fare a lot easier.

Thinking “healthy” calories don’t count
I always use to think if I was selecting healthy foods (veggie crudites and dip) over not-so-healthy foods (bacon-wrapped scallops) at a holiday party, the calories didn’t really count. Sure, veggies and dip and similar healthy appetizers like hummus and crackers or spiced nuts, are generally low-calorie options, but the calories still add up, especially if you munch on them all night long. Instead of overdoing it, try using a small plate to serve yourself. Having a visual representation of what you’re eating will help you keep even those healthy calories in check.

Feeling a little too festive with the holiday cocktails
Having a drink or two at a holiday party is a wonderful way to relax, have fun, and join in the merriment of the moment. However, it’s easy to feel a little too festive once you’ve had a few glasses of spiked eggnog. And it’s not just about consuming too many calories. If you drink too much, you don’t have as much control over what you eat, which can ultimately lead to your pants feeling a little tighter. If you feel out of place without a drink in your hand, you can pace your drinking by alternating seltzer water with a wedge of lime in between alcoholic drinks. And here are some additional ways to enjoy cocktails guilt-free!

Assuming you can just work it off
Regular exercise is a great way to manage excess calories during the holiday season, but it can’t make up for all of your diet mistakes. For example, a piece of pecan pie will set you back almost 500 calories. If you want to work that off in the gym, you’ll be trudging along on the treadmill for close to an hour! Who has time for that? Staying active will help keep those holiday calories in check, but don’t rely on your workouts to ultimately keep the pounds off. 

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Tips to Manage Stress

Stress is a part of life, a normal response to demands either emotional, intellectual, or physical. It can be positive if it keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. It can be negative if it becomes chronic, increasing the risk of diseases like depression, heart disease and a variety of other problems. 

Managing stress is key to your health. And it isn’t so very difficult to do.

How Does Stress Affect Health?

The body’s autonomic nervous system has a built-in stress response that causes physiological changes to allow the body to combat stressful situations. This stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response,” is activated in case of an emergency. However, this response can become chronically activated during prolonged periods of stress, which can cause wear and tear on the body — both physical and emotional.

Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body’s internal balance or equilibrium, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, and problems sleeping. Emotional problems can also result from distress. These problems include depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

Stress also becomes harmful when people engage in the compulsive use of substances or behaviors to try to relieve their stress. These substances or behaviors may include food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, and the Internet. Rather than relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances and compulsive behaviors tend to keep the body in a stressed state causing more problems. The distressed person becomes trapped in a vicious circle.

What Are the Warning Signs of Stress?

Chronic stress can wear down the body’s natural defenses, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it”
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion or acid reflux symptoms
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in neck, face or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Tiredness, exhaustion
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Irritability, impatience, forgetfulness

Tips for Reducing Stress

People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Set limits appropriately and say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
  • Make time for hobbies and interests.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or food to reduce stress. Ease up on caffeine, too.
  • Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you love.
  • Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn more healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life. 
source: webmd.com