We know by now that some alcoholic drinks come with major benefits.
Beer protects your brain. Red wine keeps your hearing and heart in peak condition. And those are just a couple of quick examples. But of course, drinking too much can do damage.
So the question is…how much is too much?
A team of doctors at Harvard Medical School wanted to see how alcoholic drinks affect heart health in older patients. So they looked at about 4,500 people in their 70s. Each subject answered questions about how often they drank. They also agreed to get heart imaging done.
The researchers found the more these people drank, the more likely they were to show abnormal changes in their heart structure…and function.
In men, parts of the heart responsible for pumping blood got bigger. This means their hearts had to work harder to pump the same amount of blood. The result? Their hearts grow larger and weaker. And for women…the results were a little different.1
So how much did it take? That’s where it gets really interesting…
Having 14 or more drinks in a week led to changes in heart structure and function in men. But for women, the damage started at eight drinks or more a week. In fact, women, who drank more than one alcoholic drink a day had the lowest heart function—and most heart strain. Beer… Liquor… Wine… It didn’t matter.
And they believe they know why…
The effects had nothing to do with body size and weight. So height, mass, and frame couldn’t explain the results. But hormonal differences may. Women may be more vulnerable to heart damage from alcohol because of increased estrogen levels.
Health Watch readers know excessive alcohol consumption zaps testosterone levels. The hormone connection is just one of the factors researchers want to address in future work… Like if the effects on heart health are cumulative and if there’s an exact point where harmful effects replace beneficial ones.
For now, according to lead author, Dr. Scott Solomon, “What is clear is . . . two drinks a day is the point at which we . . . are beyond the safe level for men. And with women, it’s . . . even lower than that.”2
This doesn’t mean you have to abstain from alcohol. Remember, keeping it under two drinks a day comes with heart benefits. But let’s be honest. Sometimes we’re all going to indulge a little bit more. Thankfully there are other ways to protect your body from negative effects.
One of our favorite methods is adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Getting more of these from wild-caught salmon or high quality fish oil supplements may help reduce alcoholic brain inflammation by 90%. And if you’re going to enjoy a beer or two this weekend…make sure to go organic. That’s because most beers don’t alert you to their propylene glycol content… Or the other hidden additives in each sip.
In Good Health,
Publisher, INH Health Watch