Sunday, November 24, 2013

"The Good News About Booze!"

Well, Saturday night #2 off the cleanse was a little more responsible. This morning, I'm feeling 100% fine. Whew. Like I said, it can take a while to gauge what your system can handle in terms of drinking. That's why it's so important to take it easy after a cleanse.

btw - even last weekend wasn't a balls-to-the-wall drinkathon. Seriously. It wasn't even in the birthday-celebration ballpark. But that's the point of cleansing. It changes your tolerance levels. It helps keep them more normalized so that you can't drink yourself into oblivion - at least not without paying for it. So a really important part of cleansing is easing back into a normal, healthy drinking routine.

Can there be a normal, healthy drinking routine, you ask?

The latest - incredibly welcome - news out of the U.K. is that alcohol is actually good for your health. In some cases, very good for your health.

It's based on a comprehensive study of half a million different research papers about alcohol from all over the world. And the findings were at least mildly surprising. Though probably not so much to Ms. Functional - who, btw (*** overshare warning ***) had a healthy mammogram toward the end of her last cleanse. Cleansing is such a good time to get your boobs squished and/or prostate squeezed and/or other health matters seen to. It just "feels" like the right time to do that kind of thing.

The results of these studies have been compiled by author Tony Edwards who devoted much of his career to producing award-winning health and science programs for the BBC. His newest book, The Good News About Booze will be coming out in a few days and provides a really surprising overview of alcohol research.

Culling information from hundreds of thousands of international studies, he found that moderate, regular alcohol consumption had a positive impact on everything from heart disease to arthritis to osteoporosis. Regular drinkers were also less susceptible to the common cold, bowel cancer, macular degeneration and diabetes, among other things. (More info below.)

But I have to come clean about something: the research is generally based on people who have 1 or 2 glasses of red wine - every day. Sporadic alcohol consumption seemed to have no positive effect on health and drinking too much counteracted most of the benefits, too.

As you know, I do not drink every day. I have two non-drinking days a week and two non-drinking months a year. However, I'm in excellent health. Even my bout with "pneumonia" in April was not actually "pneumonia" but a simple respiratory infection. Shortly after, the hubs and I were looking for health insurance. Contracting pneumonia increased premium costs at most companies, so I did my research more thoroughly. I learned that I had none of the major symptoms of pneumonia - fever, chills, chest pain, coughing blood, diarrhea (sorry!), etc. I just felt like sh*t and coughed a lot for a few weeks.

Turns out it was a lung infection caused by - most likely - the fact I was not cleaning my aging humidifiers well enough. I think this is the case because while I was on antibiotics, I was still coughing. I had this breakthrough idea that the humidifier next to my bed was aggravating me. I shut it off and ... the coughing stopped. My recovery was almost immediate after that.

(This year I'm trying to live without humidifiers. But I don't know how much longer I'll be able to live with all the Cling-ons on Planet Static Cling.)

Anyway, the original pneumonia diagnosis was made by a doctor at an after hours clinic, not my own GP - and was never confirmed by X-ray, which is usually the case before a proper diagnosis can be made. So my own GP made it official last time I saw her:  for any insurance people who are curious, I'm in excellent health and I've never had pneumonia. Take that. Um. Somebody. ;)

Another interested benefit of daily drinking was on osteoporosis. According to a 2010 Oregon State University study, not drinking for two weeks can reduce 'bone turnover' - the rate at which cells reproduce - by 40%! When women in this study were allowed to drink again, bone turnover went back to normal. Fascinating! But also an indication I should not have my bone mineral density tested when I'm on a cleanse!

Of course, cleansing is not just about overall health maintenance. It's about solving a drinking problem. Because we are talking about alcohol addiction in my case - not simple health maintenance. I feel that if I drank even one glass of wine every day, I'd soon find myself with a problem again. Besides, I'd miss cleansing. As I've said many times, I love the variety it brings my life.

Of course I've long been aware - as most of us have - of the health benefits of daily red wine. So when I cleanse, I often take a Resveratrol supplement (the antioxidant in red wine that provides most of its benefits). Not every day - because there is some controversy surrounding it - but a few times a week. Plus I eat a lot of grapes and other fruit high in the anti-oxidants you find in red wine. I feel this helps me keep a healthy balance when I'm not drinking. (btw, here's a full list of the benefits and potential side effects of Resveratrol supplementation.)

I know I'm my own guinea pig with The Cleanse System. And your guinea pig, too. ;) Happy to do it. I've been experimenting with my own health all my life. And I've gotten damn good at it. It's not over yet, so I'll keep you posted.

It's almost impossible to detail all the benefits of regular moderate drinking Mr. Edwards's research has found. But here's a comprehensive excerpt printed in the Daily Mail: "Alcohol Is Good For Your Health."

Prepare to be surprised. And then have a glass of wine. ;)

As long as you're not cleansing. If you are ... don't worry, you've got another drink coming soon enough! Stay well!

btw, I'll be happy to go to ballet class today, hangover free. Holy crap. The class did not ease my hangover last week. Ouch!!