In my latest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the sixth installment of this ten-part series.
These “Ten Commandments,” which I’ve long suggested to my patients and to my radio and television audiences, target exclusively the physical wheel. I suspect we could identify several more commandments related to preventing disease, but these are an excellent start.
Commandment #6 = Be Careful with Alcohol
If you drink alcoholic beverages, keep your intake minimal. And always be sure to separate drinking and driving. This rule is a no-brainer—never drink and drive. Never. But there’s an equally important and often forgotten corollary: Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol—anyalcohol—even one drink. Never.
According to the statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), over 35 percent of all trafﬁc fatalities in the U.S. are alcohol-related. Over 15,000 Americans are killed each year in alcohol-related crashes, and over 300,000 are injured.
Although the number of alcohol-related trafﬁc deaths has dropped by about 40 percent the last 20 years, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
There are more than 120 million episodes of impaired driving in the U.S. every year. Every one of these episodes puts lives at risk. So if you plan to drink, make safe transportation arrangements in advance. If no designated driver is available, use mass transit or call a taxi—or call your local police or sheriff department as they will be delighted to assist you. These folks have seen far too many people killed in alcohol-related accidents, and they’re eager to prevent any more.
Minimal alcohol intake is not a health risk for most nonpregnant adults.
If you’re a middle-aged or older male, some studies indicate that it may even benefit your health by reducing your risk of heart disease. In this book, I’ll use the phrase “minimal alcohol intake,” although most medical researchers use the phrase “moderate alcohol intake.”
In any case, what is the definition of minimal(or moderate)? For men age sixty-five and under, the limit is two drinks per twenty-four hours; for men over sixty-five and women of all ages, it’s one drink per day. And, some experts are saying now, that for women, it’s one to two drinks PER WEEK, if at all.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a drink is generally considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Each of these drinks contains roughly the same amount of absolute alcohol—approximately 0.5 ounce, or 12 grams.
Drinking that goes beyond the bounds of this definition is associated with increased risks of injury, liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and several types of cancer. Drinking is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. each year—not to mention untold misery in terms of addiction, family dysfunction, and crime.
Here are some of my other blogs on alcohol consumption. Note that these news stories indicate that if you choose to consume alcohol, minimal intake of wine may be your best choice:
You may not find a lot of surprises here—but the real questions are these:
By beginning with a single step and then continuing to improve on a day-to-day basis, you’ll be on your way to becoming a highly healthy person.
Here are all 10 of the Preventive Medicine Commandments:
And, here are all 10 of the essentials that can be found in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: