The possible benefits of abstaining

January 10, 2014

In the interests of researching the ever-popular January detox-and-cleanse tradition, staffers at the magazine New Scientist recently did a month-long experiment into going alcohol-free.

Complete with a control group, the small-scale, informal study revealed that, yes, skipping alcohol is good for your health. Everyone in the group saw reductions in their liver fat (a precursor to liver disease), blood glucose (too much leads to Type II diabetes), blood cholesterol (a risk factor for heart disease), and body weight. The abstainers also slept better, too.

“The only negative,” reported the magazine, “was that people reported less social contact.” For a group of British journalists — for whom regular alcohol consumption is practically a patriotic tradition — this was hardly surprising.

Another negative to alcohol: the pervasive presence of pesticides in some 90 percent of French wine. On the other hand, overall pesticide use on wine grapes seems to be declining, in America as well as in France. And there are, supposedly, some general benefits to moderate alcohol consumption, including heart health and overall longevity.

Finally, you might want to reconsider which, if any, supplements you’re downing in the interest of better health. Not only are many supplements fraudulently labeled, but vitamins in general aren’t essential.

For educational fun, the website io9 recently posted a entertaining chart rating supplements by actual utility. Garlic, dark chocolate, and green tea? Go for ‘em. Açai berries, fenugreek, and prickly pear? Not so much.

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