July 13th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
For me, summer is the best season for cocktails. Seasonal organic fruits can star in a variety of creative drinks, including:
But many people think of summer as a “timeout” from normal routines, which means they tend to drink more, says Scott Walters, PhD, an associate professor of public health at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. This contributes to a higher incidence of hangovers, assaults and driving under the influence.
“Our research has suggested that people can reduce the amount of problems they encounter by adopting simple drinking strategies to slow or spread out their drinking,” he says.
Dr. Walters offers the following tips:
- Decide ahead of time how many drinks you will have or when you will stop drinking.
- Alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
- Avoid doing “shots” of liquor.
- Drink plenty of water, and put extra ice in your drink.
- Don’t mix different types of alcohol.
- Drink slowly. Don’t gulp, chug or try to keep pace with others’ drinking. Eat before or during drinking.
- Keep track of the number of drinks you consume.
Read More:A Cocktail Caveat
October 24th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
One of the top medical stories dominating press coverage this week focuses on men who drink moderately and their lower risk of heart attacks. It’s a topic OrganicAuthority.com has covered before in stories like A Great Reason to Buy Organic Wine and Nutrition & Gender.
Yesterday’s Archives of Internal Medicine reported that men with healthy lifestyles who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may have a lower risk of heart attack, compared with those who drink heavily or not at all. Previous studies have confirmed this finding.
Researchers suspect these individuals have increased levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol”) in their blood. But because there are many risks associated with heavy drinking, physicians do not typically recommend that patients begin consuming alcohol to reduce their heart disease risk. Instead, they focus on other proven lifestyle interventions, including diet and exercise. These habits, however, are not mutually exclusive, according to Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal and his colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
“For individuals who exercise, abstain from smoking, maintain optimal weight and adhere to an appropriate diet, there may be few other standard lifestyle interventions to lower risk,” they write. “Whether alcohol intake is related to a lower risk for myocardial infarction [heart attack] in such individuals is unknown.”
The 8,867 men in Dr. Mukamal’s study had healthy lifestyles, defined as not smoking, having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating a healthful diet, including large amounts of fruits, vegetables, fish and polyunsaturated fats, with low amounts of trans-fats and red meat.
Between 1986 and 2002, 106 of the men studied had heart attacks. This included eight of the 1,282 who drank 15 to 29.9 grams of alcohol per day (about two drinks). This group had the lowest risk for heart attack; those who did not drink at all had the highest.
“There is a complicated mix of risks and benefits attributed to moderate drinking in observational studies, and the individual and societal complications of heavy drinking are well known,” the authors conclude. “It is easy to understand why clinical guidelines encourage physicians and patients to concentrate on seemingly more innocuous interventions, despite the relative paucity of effective, straightforward and generalizable methods for encouraging regular physical activity, weight reduction and abstinence from smoking in clinical practice. Our results suggest that moderate drinking could be viewed as a complement, rather than an alternative, to these other lifestyle interventions, a viewpoint espoused by some authors.”
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Read More:Healthy Alcohol Consumption May Reduce Heart Attack Risk
July 5th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Over the last year, I’ve posted two margarita recipes in the Organic Authority blog: the Cinco de Mayo Margarita (right) and, more recently, yesterday’s Fourth of July Northwest Cherry Bomb Margarita. Personally, I’m not much of a drinker, but I enjoy a well-blended margarita during holiday celebrations or special occasions. The key, as with anything else, is moderation.
I am concerned, however, about teenage drinking, which starts much earlier these days than when I was in high school. Approximately 1 million U.S. high school students are frequent heavy drinkers. If you’re a parent who’s dedicated to organic living, be aware of the most recent study published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers found that those who start drinking at a younger age may face a higher risk of alcohol dependence throughout their lifetime.
Past surveys have found that 28% of high school students begin drinking before age 13, and they’re more likely to drink until they’re intoxicated than those who wait until age 17 or older to start drinking. Heavy drinking places them at risk for dangerous behaviors, including driving while intoxicated, carrying guns, injuring themselves in fights, attempting suicide, having unprotected sex and earning low grades in school.
Dr. Ralph W. Hingson and colleagues at the Youth Alcohol Prevention Center at the Boston University School of Public Health analyzed results from a national survey of 43,093 adults conducted in 2001–2002. Subjects were asked about demographics, behavior, history of depression, drug use, family history of alcohol dependence and the age at which they began drinking. Those who met the criteria for alcohol dependence were asked how old they were when they first began to drink.
Forty-seven percent of those who began drinking before age 14 experienced alcohol dependence during their lifetimes, compared with 9% who began drinking at 21 or older. Those who started younger were also more likely to be alcohol-dependent within 10 years of beginning drinking.
The researchers hope this study highlights the need for parents, pediatricians and other healthcare professionals to discuss alcohol use with teens and discourage drinking at younger ages.
Read More:Are Your Teenagers Drinking?
December 28th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
As you prepare to celebrate New Year’s Eve with your favorite organic wine, champagne or cocktail, you’ll need to pay special attention to the glasses you—or your party hosts—use.
People pour 20% to 30% more alcohol into short, wide glasses than into tall, narrow glasses of the same volume, but they wrongly believe tall glasses hold more, according to researchers. Even professional bartenders pour more into short, wide “tumblers” than into “highball” glasses, suggesting that experience in pouring alcohol has little effect.
Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University and Dr. Koert van Ittersum of the Georgia Institute of Technology studied 198 college students and 86 bartenders. After several practice pours, half the students were given tall, slender 355-ml glasses, and half were given short, wide 355-ml glasses. They were then asked to pour a standard “shot” of alcohol (1.5 oz, 44.3 ml) for four mixed drinks: vodka tonic, rum and Coke, whiskey on the rocks, and gin and tonic.
Each bartender was also asked to pour the same four drinks, either with no instructions or after being told to take his time.
Both students and bartenders poured more alcohol into short, wide glasses than into tall, slender glasses. Among students, practice reduced the tendency to overpour into tall glasses, but not into short, wide glasses. Most students also believed the tall glasses held more.
Despite an average of six years of experience, bartenders poured 20.5% more into short, wide glasses than tall, slender ones. Paying careful attention reduced, but did not eliminate, the effect.
“People focus their attention on the height of the liquid they are pouring and insufficiently compensate for its width,” says Dr. van Ittersum. “If short tumblers lead people—even bartenders—to pour more alcohol than [into] highball glasses, then there are two easy solutions: Either use tall glasses or ones with alcohol-level marks etched on them, as is done in some European countries.”
The researchers, whose findings were published in this week’s British Medical Journal, believe future studies of alcohol consumption should include questions about glass shape.
For some nonalcoholic New Year’s Eve beverages, check out our recipes for Organic Wassail and Organic Cranberry Party Punch.
Read More:Are You Drinking More Than You Think?