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Which of the following in NOT a direct benefit of a regular walking regimen?
Reduce Stress
Improved immune function
Achieving ideal weight.
Improved sugar metabolism


 10 Tips On Wise Alcohol Consumption 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by . View all columns in series
1. Alcohol has been used as a special and sacred celebratory beverage over many centuries. Most native cultures have had fermented drinks for their rituals and ceremonies. This continues with traditions and celebrations of all kinds - weddings, anniversaries, dates, ballgames, flying, and harvest faires. Alcohol does help to relax the body and mind and calm the inhibitions. However, many people feel the need to celebrate daily (now, that would be partying or escaping). Excesses over time lead to problems, yet occasional wildness may free the soul.

"Reduce excesses, but not excessively." Argisle

If you are concerned about your drinking habits, consider keeping a "drink diary" for the next month. Write down when, how much, and in what circumstances you drink. How does it make you feel immediately and the morning after? Honestly look at how drinking affects your life. There are many healthy ways to celebrate life! Playing sports does this, as can drumming and dancing with your friends. While we used to have rituals, now people get drunk to deal with life, and then get in their "deadly" autos risking lives on their way. And many also use painkillers and other drugs to deal with their daily lives, which further affects their abilities. Or they overuse their credit cards and mismanage their lives and have their families suffer. Realize that drug problems of all kinds are diseases, and should be dealt with as such.

2. In evaluating how alcohol affects your life, look at the following issues: Do you drink more when you're sad or upset about something? Do you mainly drink in social situations with friends? Does alcohol help you express yourself? How can you address these emotional issues without relying on drinking? Can you say NO when the time is not right for your personal imbibing? Healthy use would be a social drink or two with preparation before and balance after in terms of hydration (alcohol is dehydrating) with water and the right nutrients.

"No is On Backwards." (Argisle)

3. Consider the negative effects alcohol might be having on your health. Is drinking aggravating an existing condition, such as obesity, digestive problems, joint pains, or depression? Do hangovers affect your performance at work, or keep you from things that you want to do? Alcohol irritates the liver and the intestinal lining. It also lowers immunity, dehydrates the body, and impairs judgement and performance, as in operating machinery and driving a car. It also alters healthful participation in relationships. Alcohol is the number cause of traffic fatalities, especially of innocent people. What is your awareness and responsibility for your own body as an example to self, loved ones and friends?

4. Alcohol may have some positive attributes as well. Doctors may recommend it to reduce heart disease risks, as it helps raise the good HDL cholesterol. However, it also raises total cholesterol and has more negative effects such that health conscious practitioners would not recommend regular consumption. Alcohol is also addictive. Thus, it takes some work, both physically and emotionally, to heal from this potentially destructive habit. For example, a liver transplant, if you could get it, is quite costly and painful.

5. In terms of reducing your alcohol consumption, if you notice that you tend to drink at certain times of the day, plan other activities, such as exercising, during that time period. Consider ordering water or other natural drinks in restaurants, and during social occasions. Take a break for a couple days; if this is very difficult, you likely have a problem and help may be necessary. Contact your doctor, counselor, or look up the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) chapter in your area. Know that it is usually difficult to give up something; it?s better to add something healthful, like walking and breathing. It also helps to talk to others who have recovered from their addictions and see what they did with their extra energy; helping others often helps you as well.

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 About The Author
Elson 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 ...moreElson Haas MD
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