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Just how bad is alcohol to my health anyway?
Indulge or not?
By Courtney Krueger / www.TrainEatLive.com
Alcohol: our best friend and yet our biggest enemy! We all know the negative effects this toxin has on our health: it damages our liver and pancreas, weakens our memory, causes dehydration and sleep disorders, can promote illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, and of course.it impairs our better judgment. (like last Saturday night when you swore you could jump over that parking meter) And yet the lines for happy hour continue to get longer and longer, even in a failing economy. Why do we continue to befriend (or be-best friend) this mind-altering substance? Because it's fun! It livens up any special event or celebration, and you don't want to be the only sober person at a bachelor party to deal with your belligerent friends as they strip down and skinny dip in the ocean. Obviously nothing will keep you from hitting the bottle during certain occasions, and will a few nights of binge drinking send us to our death beds early? Probably not. But the question is; how much is too much? Like everything else grand in this world, alcohol consumption is fine as long as it's done in.extreme moderation!

Let's examine a major pitfall of alcohol consumption and a reason to abstain from that second tequila shot; the effect is has on our protein synthesis. Our what? This is the process of muscle construction, and it is crucial to our body's continuous action of repairing and maintaining every muscle group. Alcohol hinders protein synthesis and blocks nutrients essential to muscle growth like iron, potassium, and magnesium. The ugly result is muscle loss and a decrease in testosterone levels. Imagine that, sharing brewskies with the boys can actually make you less of a man! If that's not bad enough, it also increases your body fat by interfering with your body's natural and steady fat burning cycle. If the body detects the presence of this toxin, it will use the alcohol as fuel instead of utilizing fat. Therefore, the fat cannot be properly burned, leading to endless health threats. Less manliness and more fat.hmmmm.

However, there is a silver lining to be found in this dark cloud. Some studies conclude that moderate drinking can be beneficial to our health (oh how we love the scientist who made that discovery), and that a few drinks could increase our good cholesterol and decrease our risk of heart attack. When I say a "few," I mean no more than TWO beverages for men and ONE for women. Also, make sure you know what constitutes one drink; it is twelve ounces of beer, six ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of hard liquor. Alcohol is managed uniquely by our bodies; it goes to our bloodstream, then to our liver. Our livers can only process this foreign liquid at a rate of one drink per hour. Therefore, don't abuse this uplifting health news, and stick to the less is more theory.

Red wine can be especially nourishing because it contains antioxidants known as polyphenols and flavonoids, and these powerhouses can prevent cancer, support the immune system, and enhance cardiovascular health. This grape based beverage can also reduce bacteria and stress that lurks in our bodies. Nothing is more relaxing after a tough day on the job than a big glass of red wine. I know what you're going to ask, and it's the same question I asked upon discovering health benefits of wine. Does polishing off the entire bottle mean extra antioxidants for our body? Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, so be sure to savor and enjoy each sip of your one to two glasses.

There are other motivations to keep our spirit intake low, and if you're attempting to lose weight or watching your calories then listen up; alcohol can be a major diet saboteur! These drinks can be loaded with calories, and if we're mindlessly putting them away, we could unknowing be consuming a day's worth of calories through liquid alone. (yikes!) Especially limit the fancy, fruity drinks like margaritas and pina coladas (yes the ones that taste the best) that can carry a whooping 500 calories. Some diet-friendly choices are light beer and wine that only hold 100-150 calories per serving. And if you're going to indulge in a mixed cocktail, be aware of the mixers; stray from sugar-laden choices like juice and tonic water and embrace the diet drinks and soda water. Be mindful of your waist while getting wasted!

There you have it, clear as vodka: liquor can keep us from getting sicker, but don't abuse our gift to booze! Proper nutrition for athletes would not include alcohol, and would MAYBE allow an occasional drink.  And think of how great you'll feel when you wake up tomorrow minus that evil hangover. You can roll of bed refreshed, enjoy an outdoor activity, maybe hit the hot tub.and still make it to happy hour in time to have that one drink!

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