I keep flipping from drinking a serving of wine a day to drinking no alcohol at all. My on and off drinking habit coincides with releases of new research on the health benefits or evil side effects of alcohol consumption. Now there is a new monkey study suggesting that moderate consumption of alcohol can help our immune system.
The key word is moderate. For most humans, that’s one glass a day of wine.
A PsychCentral article, “Monkey Study Suggests Alcohol Can Help Immune System,” describes the method the study uses to obtain a more clear understanding how moderate alcohol consumption can enhance our health. As the article states:
“Researchers have long observed a correlation between moderate amounts of alcohol consumption, enhanced cardiovascular function and generally better overall health. But a true cause-and-effect relationship between alcohol and health, however, is still debated.
New research may add weight to the medicinal value of alcohol as lab research suggests moderate drinking may boost the immune system and help it fight off infection.”
The researchers observed the voluntary drinking habits of rhesus macaques monkeys, which have similar immune systems to humans. They separated the monkeys into heavy and moderate drinking groups. They then determined the immune response to a vaccine by the two groups.
“The heavy drinkers showed greatly diminished vaccine responses compared with the control group of monkeys who drank the sugar water.
But the more surprising finding: The moderate-drinking monkeys displayed enhanced responses to the vaccine compared to the control group.
It seems that some of the benefits that we know of from moderate drinking might be related in some way to our immune system being boosted by that alcohol consumption.”
Science still needs to understand how moderate amounts of alcohol affects our immune systems in a positive way.
It’s stressed by this article and past studies, that a small amount of alcohol is beneficial to health, while large amounts of alcohol are not beneficial. As stated in the article, “Why Do Moderate Drinkers Live Longer than Abstainers?”
“…after taking into account the confounding factors, the researchers found that moderate drinker was still more likely to live longer than the abstainer or heavy drinker.”
More and more research indicates that there is an optimum point for a health benefit of alcohol consumption. One serving of alcohol a day appears to be the optimum point. People who drink one serving of alcohol a day liver longer and are healthier than abstainers and heavy drinkers.
Of course, if you’re an alcoholic, and cannot control the amount of alcohol you consume, you should avoid drinking any alcohol. But if you don’t have an addiction to alcohol, one serving a day and only one serving a day appears to be a healthy habit.