Healthy Living

Is Alcohol an Anti-Inflammatory? Here’s What Researchers Have to Say

It is well known that excessive alcohol use can lead to a number of health problems. However, a moderate amount of alcohol can actually be a beneficial component of an anti-inflammatory diet!

There’s a growing body of research which indicates alcohol’s surprising anti-inflammatory effects. Here are some facts:

  • This investigation of 10‐year drinking typologies showed that stable moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a long‐term inflammatory marker profile that is consistent with conferring a reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease.
  • A recent study conducted by a group of German and American researchers proved that beer consumption helps reduce post-marathon muscle inflammation and respiratory illness. The beer drinkers among the runners were significantly less likely to suffer from upper-respiratory infection and had 20-32% lower markers for inflammation compared to the placebo group. The reason? Well, apparently, wheat beer contains various types of polyphenols — antioxidant chemicals which help to down-regulate genes related to turning on inflammation.
  • Another study in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that women who reported moderate alcohol consumption (roughly one drink a day) had a 22% decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory condition) compared to women who don’t drink. Women who drank beer 2-4 times a week had a 31% decreased risk compared with those who never drank beer.

So, apparently, moderate alcohol consumption can do you good in some cases; studies also find that compared with nondrinkers, those who consume a moderate amount of alcohol have lower all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality, along with the reduced risk of inflammatory conditions. However:

Moderation is key!

The data clearly shows that heavy drinkers have an increased risk of mortality from cancer, liver damage, and coronary heart disease.

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Don’t go overboard! Drink responsibly and in moderation, or not at all. Stick with no more than one drink a day if you are a woman, and up to two drinks a day if you are a man below the age of 65. Examples of one drink include:

  • Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
  • Distilled spirits: 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)

Cheers to your health!