A recent study out of the University of California found that individuals who drank alcohol in moderation reduced their risk of an early death. Surprisingly, the study also found that the magnitude of increase in life expectancy was even greater than that of individuals who exercised daily.

Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurology specialist and head of the 90+ Study, studied the effects of moderate drinking and life expectancy. Her study concluded that a moderate two glasses of beer or wine a day improved mortality rates by about 18 percent. “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas said in her presentation at America Association for the Advancement of Science.

The study also discovered that regular exercise, social and cognitive engagement, and being overweight in older age – all improved mortality as well. Those who spent two hours a day on a hobby were 21 percent less likely to pass away prematurely. And 15 to 45 minutes of daily physical activity reduced the risk premature death by 11 per cent. Interestingly, being overweight in old age may also be good news when it comes to living longer. The study found that people who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people. “It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas added.

Moderate alcohol consumption may improve your chances of living longer but don’t let this discourage you from living an active lifestyle. Alcohol may improve your life span but exercise will improve your overall quality of life – by a much greater extend. A lack of exercise will make the daily chores of life challenging. Even something as mundane as getting out of a chair can be a task at old age. Falls, loss of bone mass and other age related health issues can all be prevented and even reversed with exercise.

We must also remember the risks of alcohol far outweigh its benefits. Moderate drinking is easily said than done. It really only takes that one bad day in crossing the line from moderate drinking to heavy/habitual drinker to full blown addiction. And before you know it, it becomes a destructive force in your life.

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A glass or two a day may do you little damage. Binge drinking and continued use of large amounts of alcohol are associated with several severe health issues. Long term use of alcohol can damage your liver, hearth, brain, pancreas, weaken your immune system and can exacerbate the risk of several types of cancers.

Most alcoholic drinks like wine, beer, spirits are made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar. As such your drinking a lot of calories – 7 calories a gram, almost as many as a gram of fat. They cherry on top is that cals from alcohol are largely ’empty calories’ – they have no nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet. Drinking a few glasses of alcohol a day can quickly add to your waist line.

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