How good is alcohol for your health? Over the years, many studies have attested to the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption to the heart. Unfortunately, there were hardly any scientific proof to confirm this theory––until now.
So, if you need an excuse to go drinking this summer, here’s some good news. Researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Biomedical Science Institute in Brazil has finally discovered that moderate amount of alcohol can train our heart to effectively cope with stress. How is this possible?
Protecting the Heart
When we drink, our body creates organisms or enzymes called ALDH2, to protect itself and get rid of toxic alcoholic elements from our body. Researchers from the study have found out that these are the very same chemicals our heart needs to protect it when damaged or exposed to major heart problems like a heart attack. So, just enough alcohol in our body can actually strengthen the heart and allow it to cope with major heart problems.
The researchers were able to test this theory using experiments on lab rats that were induced to suffer a myocardial infarction or a heart attack. Cells that were exposed to alcohol in lower amounts have less damaged hearts while 50 percent of cells died in hearts that were not exposed to alcohol.
According to one of the researchers, Professor Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, these ‘data suggest moderate exposure to ethanol causes minor stress in heart cells but not enough to kill them.’
In short, heart cells undergo a ‘preconditioning’ phase wherein it produces a chemical memory to protect itself against stress. In the event that these cells are eventually exposed to major strain like a heart attack, the heart knows how to deal with it.
In addition to removing toxic by-products of alcohol in our body, the researchers also concluded that the ALDH2 enzyme also removes a molecule that grows in the heart when it becomes damaged. Furthermore, this scientific breakthrough can eventually lead to a drug that has the same positive reaction without the risks carried out by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Sounds cool, right? Yes, but a bit of caution before bingeing on your favorite alcoholic drinks. This enzyme can be just as bad when alcohol is consumed excessively. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can make the heart more vulnerable to a heart attack than not drinking at all.
In fact, heavy drinking can adversely affect not only the heart, but other major organs of the body as well, such as the kidneys and liver and can lead to major health concerns like liver cirrhosis, chronic renal failure, and cardiovascular diseases. Other conditions linked to chronic alcohol consumption also include anemia, seizures, depression, and abdominal pain.
Alcohol may be a good protection for your heart but it is always best to remember to take things slowly. It’s not bad to treat your heart to a delicious glass of wine from time to time but the best ways to take good care of your heart is always through a healthy diet and exercise.