Your Health

Watch the booze

Watch the booze

BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, January / February 2011

There has been much debate about the effects of alcohol over the years. Some studies suggest that having a drink or two every now and then can actually help you live longer. But others question whether drinking has any positive effect at all. But no matter which theory you subscribe to, there is one thing most people can agree on. When it comes to alcohol, moderation is key. And so is common sense.

"In most cases, there is no harm in having a drink or two every now and then," says Dr. Michael Routledge, Medical Officer of Health for the Winnipeg Health Region. "However, for people looking at ways to improve their health, getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet will always do more for your overall health than a glass or two of red wine at night," he says.

On a personal level, it is important to remember that consuming alcohol has definite downsides. For one, it's an addictive substance, and some people have trouble consuming just one or two drinks at a time. People also forget that alcohol is high in calories and provides no nutritional benefit, so even just a few drinks can add a few pounds to your waistline in no time flat.

A glass of red wine (175 ml), for example, can contain as much as 119 calories. A single glass of vodka and coke (25 ml) can contain as much as 120 calories. It's pretty hard to maintain a healthy weight if you are knocking back drinks.

The health effects of drinking are even more acute for pregnant women. A woman who drinks when pregnant risks giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome.

And then there is the problem of drinking and driving. Even a moderate drinker can find themselves in a situation where they may have had one too many and end up behind the wheel of a car. "The basic message is if you are going to drink, drink moderately, and don't drink and drive." says Routledge.

"And if you are going out and having a few drinks, leave the car at home and make other arrangements to get home safely. Finally, if you have a problem with drinking, seek help."

For information about alcohol abuse, visit The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba website at www.afm.mb.ca.

Wave

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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