The Latest on Alcohol

Monday Jul 31 | BY |
| Comments (8)


Everybody knows that too much alcohol is bad for health.

But there’s this myth that “moderate” consumption is good for health, prevents deaths and extends life.

Two recent studies are destroying that myth.

1) Flaws in Previous Studies

An updated meta-analysis (which you can find here) found the problems with previous studies on alcohol, which claimed that moderate consumption was beneficial.

It appears that the reason why previous studies showed benefits in moderate consumption (vs. abstinence) is that many abstainers did so because of existing health problems.

So it appeared that the “abstainers” were less healthy than the moderate drinkers, but this was due to selection bias.

The conclusion is that there is no benefit in reducing heart disease risk with drinking moderately.

2) Alcohol bad for your brain

Another new study, this time published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, showed that even moderate alcohol consumption harms the brain.

We’ve known for a long time that excessive drinking damages the brain.

However, what’s new is the finding is that even moderate drinking affects your cognitive abilities negatively.

And what was “moderate” drinking, in this study? Those who drink about five glasses of wine per week or the equivalent. So we’re not talking about a lot of alcohol.

So what happened to those moderate drinkers?

Their brains showed a reduction in the volume of their hippocampi, an area associated with memory and learning.

Of course, the more you drink, the worse it gets.

But the unexpected finding is this: those who drank moderately were three times more likely to damage those brain structures that people who didn’t drink at all.

The conclusion is that any amount of alcohol is toxic. The dose makes the poison, but even what’s considered “benign” in our culture can take huge tolls on the body over time.

To your health,


Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Bill says:

    I think this new information confirms what most of us were thinking all along.

  2. Drink because you enjoy the buzz and lube to see you socially through. Not because you think it’s gonna make you healthy. If it does make you healthy you are in such bad shape that you have bigger problem. If coffee is an antioxidant you eat garbage.

  3. Todd says:

    While I agree that alcohol is pure poison, so are many of the herbs which are used as medicine. One must have the knowledge and wisdom to know when to use them. For example, using Ma Huang (Ephedra) during the colder months to combat a runny nose or respiratory congestion is “generally” ok — use Ma Huang during the warm season and you’re asking for trouble. The warm month herb to use for respiratory congestion is Bo He (mint).
    It is truly a shame that much of the Western world actively killed herbalists for a few centuries (in the English language, we labeled them “witches”, which is an Anglicization of “Wiccans”, the original British Islands people, now known as the Welsh or people from Wales). Merlin, the legendary Arthurian “wizard” was Wiccan. While I’m not saying that all herbalists were Wiccans, the “West” of the time treated those with knowledge beyond the “science” of the time as witches or devil worshipers who needed to be eliminated for the good of society. What a short-sighted mistake!
    Many, even recent, studies have shown that occasional alcohol consumption is an exceptional parasiticide, and those occasional consumers are among the centenarians. Again, one must have knowledge and wisdom.

  4. kate says:

    Thanks for another informative article Frederic! I certainly notice I’m more forgetful after even a small glass of wine. I wouldn’t dare have more!

    Thanks very much also for advocating lemon juice to reduce salt cravings – it really helps 🙂

  5. Jaye says:

    What about the alcohol consumption of the Blue Zones, the longest lived cultures? They certainly do not abstain from moderate drinking.

    • The most probable explanation is that their longevity has nothing to do with alcohol consumption. They do a lot of things right so they can enjoy a bit of alcohol without consequences…

  6. Mike says:

    I guess we should have already known all that, without any studies. But my question is, where to fermented foods fall in this discussion? For example, I love raw, fermented sauerkraut, and the juice that comes with it. Does the toxicity come with fermentation, or…. I guess I mean, what is the difference between alcohol and various fermented (so-called non-alcoholic) foods?
    And Kombucha (trace of alcohol)?I drink a couple or more bottles a week.
    And last, where does apple cider vinegar rank in this “brain damage” discussion? Thanks for a great article!

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