Dry January may not have been as good for your health as you thought

Little and often is the key to healthy drinking

Antonia Molloy
Saturday 01 February 2014 14:54
Drinking the occasional pint of beer could be part of a healthy diet
Drinking the occasional pint of beer could be part of a healthy diet

For many people, today marks the end of a month of abstinence from their favourite tipple - and it’s payday weekend to boot.

But as we bid a perhaps too enthusiastic farewell to Dry January, one expert is saying that last month’s good intentions may have done more harm than good.

He claims that drinking regularly throughout the post-New Year period would have had far more health benefits than going cold turkey.

Professor Charles Bamforth of the University of California, Davis said: “It’s well known that drinking too much can cause serious health problems. Many people don’t realise that drinking in moderation has significant health benefits and that moderate drinkers have a longer life expectancy than non-drinkers.

“Regular moderate intake of alcohol is good for the heart and blood circulation."

The author of Beer, Health and Nutrition stressed that people should not see a month of self-denial as a ticket to over-indulgence throughout the rest of the year.

“The key is a little and often. You are seriously mistaken if you think that having a month without drinking will protect you from the effects of excessive drinking for the rest of the year.

“The best advice is to drink moderately throughout the year,” he said.

However, it is not just how much you drink, but also what you drink. Professor Bamforth said that beer, and real ale in particular, offers many nutritional benefits.

“The great thing about beer is that it is low in alcohol and brewed from natural raw materials so it’s a good source of important nutrients such as antioxidants, B vitamins and dietary silicon that promotes strong bones. Indeed beer used to be known as liquid bread”.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) welcomed the evidence. Camra chairman Colin Valentine said: “The health benefits of moderate drinking may explain why you meet so many people enjoying a healthy retirement who still like going for a pint of real ale in their local.

“The evidence also shows that sociability has significant benefits to health and well-being. You are far better off sharing a beer with friends in a pub than sitting at home drinking by yourself.”

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