Did you know that there is evidence to show that humans have been purposefully drinking fermented beverages for over 10,000 years? And even further back in the anthropological timeline, our primate ancestors developed a genetic mutation in protein structures that could effectively break down ethanol. In fact, this genetic mutation allowed us to broaden our edible landscapes, which effectively allowed our genetics to pass on, and eventually, Homo sapiens made their way onto the genetic board game of life. So I guess you could more or less say that human beings, the way we are today, have evolved with and due in part to alcohol. This might also explain why humans have evolved to link pleasure pathways with alcohol consumption.
Other than the obvious negative side effects of overindulging in alcohol, consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can often be seen as an ancient form of a health tonic. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, over 100 different scientific studies have shown that light to moderate alcohol consumption has been able to lower the risk of heart attack, clot-caused strokes, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. There was an overall reduction in disease development by 25-40%. However, it was made clear that increasing alcohol consumption to more than 4 drinks a day greatly increased negative health outcomes.
Additionally, according to the Nurses’ Health Study, gallstones and type 2 diabetes were also less likely to occur in moderate drinkers. There has been found to be a 30% reduction rate in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes with moderate drinking - that is 1-3 drinks a day. It’s important to note though, what you drink doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as how you drink. Studies found that establishing a healthy pattern was the key difference in healthy outcomes vs. negative outcomes. Basically, drinking 7 drinks on a Saturday night would have a far worse health impact than drinking 1 drink a night for 7 nights.
Let’s not forget the social and psychological benefits of moderate alcohol too! Pairing the right wine with a meal can not only enhance the flavor profile but also enhance the atmosphere. Bon appetit! Wrapping up the day by enjoying a drink can add a pleasant punctuation to the end of a long workday and sharing a drink with a friend can be a welcomed social tonic. These social and emotional benefits can easily translate into physical health and well-being too. Those who imbibe in a group setting on a regular basis are more likely to experience a sense of belonging. And it’s this sense of belonging and socializing that is one of the single most important buffers against mental and physical illness. Of course, this can absolutely be done without partaking, it’s more about the togetherness and the community-building - it’s just been found that alcohol may trigger an endorphin response system in your body, which also promotes social bonding.
Enjoying an adult beverage or two (in a responsible and safe setting) with good friends and new friends seems to be exactly what we all need during these cold and dreary days. Good thing we have our very first Sip & Savor event coming up this week featuring a beautiful six-course menu developed by Woodside’s own Chef Devon Hammer in partnership with Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery. Check out our website here for more info and to get your tickets today. Can’t make this one? That’s okay! You can catch our next one in March with James River Winery. Keep a lookout for those details to come.