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Which of the following is an antioxidant?
Vitamin E
Vitamin B

 Foods: Beverages 

This is another commonly used and abused "drug," and even more so by our younger population in recent years. Alcoholic beverages come in many varieties, such as beer, wine, and more alcohol-concentrated liquors. These are produced by means of fermentation (usually by yeasts) and/or distillation. They have little nutritive value but a fair amount of calories. The gut or "beer belly" is characteristic of the regular beer drinker who must consume higher amounts of liquid and calories to obtain the drug effect of alcohol.

Alcohol is different from caffeine; it is a central nervous system depressant, or sedative. Even though it seems to "loosen people up," it does so by sedating the usual inhibitory mechanisms. Alcohol slows the brain actions and affects physical coordination and reaction time. It is also irritating to the gastro-intestinal tract and liver, which handles the detoxification of this drug. Furthermore, the chemicals used in alcohol beverage production are a big concern. Often grapes and grains are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and sulfites and heavy metals may also be contaminants.

Many people drink too much and too often; some become addicted to alcohol and are then known as "alcoholics." This disease can be devastating to them and their families. Usually, there is an underlying emotional problem (possibly a genetic predisposition as well) or inability to make contact with and express the emotions. Drinking alcohol in excess is greatly influenced by social and peer pressure as well.

In general, alcohol is not something that is particularly beneficial to health. Though some medical articles suggest that moderate alcohol consumption (one or two drinks a Day ) may be helpful to cardiovascular health, this is most likely through its action as a mild stress reducer. Other forms of stress management, such as exercise and a variety of relaxation techniques, are much better, though they may take more work. Occasional drinking as a social sharing or for celebration may be beneficial in some ways. However, if we are drinking daily or in regular excess, it is wise to reduce or even eliminate this potentially addicting drug. If it is not possible by oneself, it is wise then to seek help.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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