Posts Tagged ‘drinks’

liquor-264470_640Wine and Beer drinkers often like to tout the health benefits of their favorite pastimes. However, if you read the peer-reviewed studies on alcohol consumption and health, most aren’t very supportive of drinking. I’ve heard friends proclaim that in the “blue zone” Mediterranean region where people live long lives, wine is a central part of the diet. However, wine and alcohol are not common factors in all of the blue zones around the world such as Loma Linda California. Yes, there are some phytochemicals in wine, but there’s also phytochemicals in fruity snacks too- catch my drift? The point is that alcoholic beverages, like juices, and sweetened beverages, are low in nutrition and high in calories. Excessive and regular alcohol consumption has been associated with obesity, heart disease, cancers (especially throat and stomach), high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver disease.

OK so I know that this information is probably not going to stop you from having a few this holiday season (it’s not going to stop me!) To be fair as well, most of the studies linking alcohol to disease are population-based and not randomly controlled which is the research gold standard. Ethically, it’s really hard to randomly assign people to a drinking group if they haven’t touched alcohol and follow them to see if they get sick. Instead, epidemiologist often look at self-report surveys of drinking behavior (which are flawed) and compare with disease occurrence. Although many of these studies report that drinking is linked with health problems, most also conclude that there isn’t an association between MODERATE drinking and problems.

Moderate drinking is defined as 2 servings per day for men, and 1 serving per day for women. A serving is defined as 12 ounce beer (4 ABV), 5 oz of wine, and 1.5 oz of 80 (1/2 shot glass) proof distilled liquor. Each serving stands at about 150 calories each. Be sure to read labels- products with higher alcohol and added sugar will have far more calories. For example, a 12 oz fruit malt-liquor beer (8 ABV) may have as many as 350 calories compared to a 12 oz lite beer with only a 100 calories! However, since alcohol is not regulated by the FDA, there aren’t label requirements. You may have to visit websites such as Calorieking or ChooseMyPlate Supertracker to find out calorie or other nutrition information.

People with diabetes and other chronic diseases need to be especially cautious. Beer and wine can gradually raise blood sugar, and stimulate overeating. Again, label reading is key. Most 12 oz beers have about 12-15 grams of carbohydrate but flavored beers might have as much as 50g per 12 oz which is equivalent to 11 teaspoons of sugar! Flavored drinks like Margaritas can be even worse. Distilled liquor is high in calories but low in carbohydrate, that doesn’t mean a person with diabetes should finish off a flask! Excess alcohol consumption can also lower blood sugar because it inhibits the liver’s ability to release glucose.

Here are some holiday drinking tips for you.

  • Just like with deserts, drink slowly and use all your senses to appreciate the product. Drink during or after meals to avoid overeating.
  • Read labels, and stick with sugar-free products, lite beers or white wine as much as possible.
  • If you have diabetes, check blood sugars before and after you drink to understand how alcohol impacts your blood sugars.
  • Most importantly, STAY OFF THE ROAD and be careful!! Accidents, falls and injury aren’t much fun for anyone during the holidays!!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Wood County


Centers for Disease Control. (2015). Alcohol Fact Sheet. Retrieved from cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm

American Diabetes Association. (2015). Alcohol. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/alcohol.html

U.S.D.A. (2015-2020) Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietary-guidelines-2015


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Are you ready for your morning coffee? With more than 80 percent of American adults consuming cacoffeeffeine on a regular basis, does caffeine really do harm to our bodies? That may depend upon amounts. Two to four cups of brewed coffee a day usually isn’t a problem for most people.

Caffeine may help in these situations:

• Mental stimulation – People who don’t have a dependence on caffeine or don’t use it regularly can become “significantly more alert and better able to perform cognitive and motor  tasks if given the right dose.” For regular users it offers few benefits in this area. What people think of as stimulating and good actually is due to the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

• Lack of Sleep – Caffeine can help you stay more alert when you are sleep deprived. However, you can build up a tolerance to caffeine so for regular users an extra boost is usually needed.

• Headaches – Caffeine acts as a mild pain reliever. It also constricts your blood vessels which can help since usually they dilate when you have a headache.

• Physical Performance – Caffeine can help you during an endurance exercise like running but is less effective for activities such as lifting weights or sprinting. This can be true for both regular users and non-users. Since caffeine also helps reduce pain you may exercise longer.

• Parkinson’s Disease – Studies have concluded that higher caffeine usage seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Caffeine may help Parkinson’s patients with tremors or other motor symptoms. Again tolerance seems to negate long-term help.

• Gallstones – Studies show drinking two or three cups of regular coffee a day reduced the risk of gallstones for women 20 percent and for men 40 percent.

• Dementia – Caffeine may provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. More studies are needed.

Caffeine may hurt in these situations:

• Pregnancy – Women trying to get pregnant or already pregnant should avoid caffeine –containing foods and drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Caffeine can cause harmful effects on fertility, miscarriage, and fetal growth.

• Disrupted Sleep – Caffeine can affect your sleep or ability to fall asleep for up to 13 hours later.

• If you drink more than 4 cups a day you can experience these unpleasant effects: insomnia, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. • Beware that some medications and herbal supplements can interact with caffeine. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Caffeine- Lack of effectsWeight scale

• Weight – There is no evidence that caffeine helps people lose or keep weight off, although many weight-loss supplements contain caffeine.

• Heart – A 30 year study in California didn’t find an increase in risk of cardiac arrhythmias among regular coffee drinkers.

• High Blood Pressure – Although caffeine can cause a modest increase in blood pressure, studies have not showed an increase in the development of hypertension among caffeine coffee drinkers.

Caffeine may be a part of your daily routine. As long as it doesn’t cause any problems for you… Enjoy!

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension , Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA brinkman.93@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management; Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Mayo Clinic Staff, [2011]. Caffeine: How Much is too Much? Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600

Schardt, D. [2012]. Caffeine! Nutrition Action Health Letter, December 2012, 39 (10), 7-8.

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