A lovely glass of wine with dinner, or a beer in the local pub. I can honestly enjoy that and do it with some regularity. Since a week I even switched my modest Dutch beers for the slightly bigger English pints. But what are the health effects of this behaviour? And what is the smartest way of dealing with alcohol?
Calories in alcoholic drinks
Let’s get straight to the point, alcohol contains a lot of calories. In the Netherlands people say that one beer (0.2L) contains the same amount of calories as a slice of bread with our famous Dutch cheese (155 kcal). Luckily that is not true, a beer contains 88 kcal. That is still as much as a slice of bread without the cheese.
In this for me slightly shocking table (I knew this, but probably repressed the information) I stated the calories for a Dutch sized beer. An English pint contains no less than 200 calories. Auch.
Alcohol in moderation: health benefits
The general advice is: enjoy alcohol in moderation. This means 1 glass a day for women and 2 for men. Unfortunately you cannot save these up. So you cannot drink nothing for the whole week and then 7/14 drinks on Saturday night.
Drinking alcohol in moderation decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly the chances of getting dementia. In general, moderate alcohol consumption is linked to healthy aging.
This is however really only true if you drink in moderation. If you exceed the above mentioned amounts, the risk of cardiovascular disease rises again. Furthermore, it will increase your chances of getting a variety of cancers (like digestive system cancers and breast cancer) and it will increase the risk on accidents.
What do I do?
I am glad I have all this information, but I will not “improve” my life. I don’t drink alcohol every day. Sometimes I drink a glass of wine with my dinner, and every now and then I go to the local English pub and drink whatever I feel like. For me living and eating healthy is very important, but enjoying life is even more important. I do now realise how many calories my English pints contain. I’ll probably have to fit in some extra exercise the day after a fun night out!
PS In the future I will write separate blogpost about the different types of alcohol and the science behind a hangover! Stay tuned 😉
- NEVO voedingswaardetabel (Dutch nutrition table)
- Jayasekara, H., et al., Alcohol consumption over time and risk of death: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Am J Epidemiol, 2014. 179(9): p. 1049-59.
- Panza, F., et al., Alcohol consumption in mild cognitive impairment and dementia: harmful or neuroprotective?Int J Geriatr Psychiatry, 2012. 27(12): p. 1218-38.
- Zeisser, C., et al., A systematic review and meta-analysis of alcohol consumption and injury risk as a function of study design and recall period. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 2013. 37 Suppl 1: p. E1-8.
- Brooks, P.J. and S. Zakhari, Moderate alcohol consumption and breast cancer in women: from epidemiology to mechanisms and interventions. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 2013. 37(1): p. 23-30.