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Government 'experts' claim all alcohol, including red wine, is bad for you: Here's why they're wrong

British alcohol guidelines

(NaturalNews) In its first major overhaul of national alcohol consumption recommendations in 20 years, the British government has set the lowest recommended limits of any nation in Europe, and emphasized the idea that there is no "safe" level of alcohol intake.

In doing so, the government consciously chose to downplay evidence that low to moderate consumption of alcohol – particularly red wine – can have marked health benefits. Instead, the report emphasizes the fact that any increase in overall alcohol consumption leads to a small, but statistically significant increase in cancer risk.

"The report will send a clear signal that the dangers of drinking are far more than previously thought," an inside source told The Telegraph.

Report assumes all alcohol is the same ...

The report is the culmination of a multi-year review into research on the health effects of alcohol consumption. The studies showed, the government said, that any regular alcohol consumption has been linked with health risks, and that those risks rise as consumption increases.

The government now recommends that both men and women refrain from consuming more than 14 units of alcoholic beverages per week (a unit is the equivalent of a shot, a glass of wine, or 12 ounces of a typical beer). In addition, the government recommends a minimum of two alcohol-free days per week.

These are among the strictest recommendations in Europe, where most countries set the safe limit of alcohol consumption somewhere between 18 and 35 units per week. In contrast, the British recommendations now say there is no "safe" limit, and recommend 14 as an "upper" limit.

In their quest to paint alcohol as a uniformly dangerous substance, the recommendations dismiss the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption as irrelevant. For example, the report says that the only heart health benefits of alcohol consumption were found in women aged 55 and over, who had about five drinks per week. It adds that it would be easier to achieve similar benefits with exercise and a good diet – although it is not clear why these options are mutually exclusive, or how getting regular exercise is easier than drinking a few alcoholic beverages per week.

Overlooks interaction of alcohol with diet

The major problem with the new recommendations – other than their obviously premeditated intention of getting people to drink less alcohol – seems to be that they drew on studies that looked mostly at alcohol consumption in general, and not at red wine in particular, or alcohol consumption as part of the Mediterranean diet.

It is perfectly predictable that when all alcohol consumers are lumped together and types of alcoholic beverages are undifferentiated (i.e., highly concentrated distilled liquors and highly processed "beers" and wine coolers are treated as interchangeable with red wine), greater consumption would lead to poorer health outcomes.

Yet there is a large and robust body of evidence suggesting that certain types of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may still play an important role in maintaining health, when part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

A large number of studies have looked specifically at resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes, reduce damage and improve recovery after stroke, protect against infection, improve endurance, and counteract the metabolic symptoms of a high-fat diet, even extending lifespan and improving cognition in organisms as complex as fish. Studies also suggest that it can protect against cancer.

Several large studies have also confirmed that the Mediterranean diet – a diet with low-to-moderate alcohol consumption; high consumption of olive oil, nuts, whole grains and beans; low consumption of red meat; moderate consumption of fish and poultry; and moderate-to-high consumption of dairy, primarily yogurt and cheese – reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and possibly even age-related cognitive decline.

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