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We have all heard news stories about how alcohol can be “good” for you.  Some of the benefits touted include:

  • Raising HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol”) thereby lowering the risk of heart disease
  • Less likely to get kidney stones
  • Makes people more social
  • Balances blood sugar

A study was released this week looking at MRI scans of over 36,000 people and the intent of the study was to show how much “aging” to the brain occurred when people drank alcohol regularly.  The results showed that drinking two beers or two glasses of wine daily causes structural damage and brain volume loss equivalent to 10 years of aging.  

Now, let’s turn to weight control and the impact of regular alcohol usage:  Although the calorie counts of wine and light beers are not that high, regular alcohol consumption most often kills weight control efforts.  There are several factors that cause this weight-derailing impact: 

  1. Alcohol consumption slows metabolism.  Alcohol is perceived by the body as a “toxin” and the body will preferentially metabolize this as opposed to the carbs and fats consumed.
  2. Eating decision-making tends to be more “relaxed” when people feel the effects of alcohol.   The usual accompanying snack and food choices tend to be the ones that negatively impact weight control.

The point:  Do not be duped by the “fluffy” news stories extolling the virtues of alcohol consumption.   Those “Happy Hours” are not so happy when our brains are 10 years older than they should be and we are fighting all of those co-morbidities of poor weight control.