Let’s talk about whiskey. There are countless popular country songs written about it, and the popularity of this drink is only continuing to grow. If you choose a sip of whiskey as your nightcap, here’s what happens to your body when you drink it every night. Everyone is completely different when it comes to what flavors and types of alcohol they prefer, and whiskey is definitely one that appeals to a certain set of taste buds.
However, a person’s genetic makeup has a major impact on how whiskey affects their body as well. For one, whiskey is usually thought of as more of a “man’s drink.” Fortunately, Jim Beam has been at the forefront of changing this perception, as actress Mila Kunis has endorsed the company’s whiskey in their commercials. Interestingly, science suggests that women are better at taste-testing whiskey than men are, a skill that Forbes credits to their more heightened sense of smell. So go ahead, enjoy that whiskey.
Fewer Calories & Carbs
For those alcohol enthusiasts who aren’t looking to gain a beer belly, whiskey is a great choice. It contains no carbohydrates and virtually no sugar, as well as fewer calories than beer and most wines. Some studies have even suggested that drinking whiskey can help a person to lose weight. According to Harvard University, “Moderate drinking might be especially beneficial if you have low HDL that just won’t budge upward with diet and exercise.” HDL is the good type of cholesterol, and it helps to remove excess cholesterol in the bloodstream, which ultimately helps to keep a person’s body in better shape. However, keep in mind that adding any type of mixer to the whiskey can drive up your calorie count. So, if you want to really maximize your benefits here, maybe hold the Coke in your Jack and Coke!
Prevents you from Cold
When a person is feeling just a bit under the weather, whiskey won’t do ’em wrong. After all, even during Prohibition in the the1920s when alcohol was banned throughout the U.S., doctors would prescribe whiskey to patients for medicinal purposes. Although according to Daniel Okrent, author of the Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, “There may have been some people who were being prescribed because there was a perceived medical need, it was really a way for some physicians and pharmacists to make a few extra bucks.” However, as modern medicine and science have improved over time, studies have shown that there really is some medical benefit to drinking just one glass of whiskey on a sick day. Even though there is no known cure for the common cold, whiskey has properties that can help alleviate symptoms and help a person feel much better. The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection. And that really is going to make you feel better! And hey, if that helps keep you out of the doctor’s office, that’s reason enough to keep a bottle handy.
Boosts your Immune System
“Whiskey. And one for Ahab, there.” Turns out, it may be a good idea to have hot toddies on more of a regular basis. If people drink whiskey every night, they may not even get sick in the first place, according to a study done by Oregon Health& Science University. Their experiment showed that drinking alcohol in moderation can help amp up the immune system and even help fight infections. The key to keeping healthy is drinking in moderation. Drinking alcohol in excess, the study found, didn’t provide the same results. Ilhem Messaoudi, the study’s author, had this to say in clarification: “If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an abuser in the past, we are not recommending you go out and drink to improve your immune system. But for the average person who has, say, a glass of wine with dinner, it does seem in general to improve health and cardiovascular function. And now we can add the immune system to that list.” “If I found myself getting sick, I would simply say, ‘SICKNESS, BE GONE!’
Warding Off Bacteria
Alcohol has been, both historically and even today thought of as an antiseptic. Because of this, it’s really no wonder many characters in action movies have been shown pouring alcohol into their wounds in emergency situations, and according to one study published by the American Council on Science and Health, there might be something to that. There are properties in the whiskey that help to remove bacteria that people are unconsciously putting into their bodies, even germs that can live on the ice we drink. To prove this, the study placed ice cubes that were contaminated with four different types of bacteria in various beverages, including vodka, peach tea, Coke, whiskey, a Martini, and tonic water. When they later cultured out the bacteria in the various drinks, whiskey was the only one that did not allow any type of bacteria to grow in it.
Promotes Healthy Heart
Grace Jones, who was once the oldest woman in Britain, shared her secret for long life and said, “My doctor said ‘keep up with the whisky Grace, it’s good for your heart.'” Turns out, her doctor was onto something. A review of 84 studies showed that people who enjoyed a daily drink were 14 to 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who didn’t drink. This may have been due to higher levels of HDL cholesterol found in whiskey. According to the BBC News, whiskey drinkers also reportedly absorb more antioxidants than red wine drinkers, and more antioxidants can help protect against coronary heart disease. Unfortunately for some, there’s a caveat here. Because whiskey affects different people in different ways, Harvard University found that for a 30-year-old, the risks outweigh the benefits. For a 60-year-old, one drink per day may have more heart disease protection than potential harm. So be sure to take that into consideration when deciding if you should drink whiskey every night.
If you drink whiskey every day, we’d imagine having a glass would be especially satisfying at the end of a long work shift. However, a whiskey drink may make some people nauseous or give others particularly bad hangovers. That led Brown University assistant professor of neuroscience Karla Kaun to wonder why we continued to drink, and why we remember all the good things about the drink and forget the bad. Sure, drinking enough whiskey can cause a lapse in memory, but her study found that drinking whiskey can also affect how memories are formed. Her team at Brown University concluded that whiskey completely alters proteins in the brain that are responsible for forming memories. Kaun noted she was afraid this could cause people to become dependent on alcohol in general, as it completely changes the way a person’s brain is wired when drinking. With excessive drinking, this can lead to serious mind-changing problems. How? She said: “After three glasses, with an hour break in between, the pathway doesn’t return to normal after 24 hours.” That’s pretty scary, and here’s more food for thought: another study found that men who had 2.5 daily drinks had signs of memory loss sooner than light to moderate drinkers. Cheers to the memories?
Lower Risk of Dementia
It seems drinking whiskey can do a person’s brain some good in the long-term. A study coming out of Boston concluded that drinking one to six drinks each week might actually lower the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s among older adults. This, combined with a healthy lifestyle, of course. Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer’sResearch U.K., told BBC News: “The best current evidence indicates that as well as only drinking in moderation…eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking, and keeping weight, cholesterol and blood pressure in check are all good ways to support a healthy brain as we age.” On the other hand, various studies have shown that drinking too much alcohol can have the complete opposite effect, so it can’t be said enough: moderation is key.
Whiskey is a depressant, which means it slows down a person’s central nervous system, and this is what makes a smooth glass of whiskey provide soothing relief after a hard day. Let’s face it: Today’s world is more of an anxiety-ridden society than ever before, so it’s important to be smart about ways to deal with stress. Here, too, is where there’s a caveat about quantity. According to a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in 2006, 20 percent of those with social anxiety disorder have also created a negative form of dependence on alcohol. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says heavy drinking includes eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men. So, if you drink whiskey every night, you may feel calmer, but be sure not to overdo it.
Get Rid of Dry Skin
Though drinking a daily glass of whiskey may help ease a person’s stress, unfortunately, it can stress out their skin. After all, there are many ways drinking alcohol affects your looks. Makeup artist Molly Leahy gave StyleCasterthese words of warning: “While all alcohol can have damaging effects on your skin, dark liquors contain congeners, which are impurities. The more congeners you consume, the worse your skin will look the next day.” The ingredients found in whiskey deprive a person’s body of water, causing the skin to become dry and potentially age more quickly over time. Hard liquor has also been linked to causing redness by dilating blood vessels, which can leave you fighting spider veins and broken capillaries. However, even with all of that being the case, a person can still enjoy one glass of whiskey as long as they take precautions with their skin in mind. Just remember, the best thing you can add to your morning routine is moisturizing!
Drink up, because it turns out that drinking alcohol like whiskey has been proven to actually prolong a person’s life. A team at the University of California researched what makes certain people live to and beyond age 90. Their study found that the people who enjoyed two glasses of alcohol every evening had a small, but still notable, chance of living longer. Neurology specialist Claudia Kawas told TheIndependent: “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.” Studies continue to prove this. Another study was done at the University of Texas also found that drinking alcohol can actually help a person to live a longer life. However, as always moderation is the key. They found that heavy drinking actually increased a person’s risk of death by 45 percent. Even more shocking, people who didn’t drink any alcohol over the course of the study had an increased risk of 51 percent.
It’s important to not over-drink when trying to reap the benefits that whiskey can bring. Drinking more than one glass daily provides none of the benefits that this drink of choice has been proven to provide and, in fact, it could seriously harm your body. One of the largest organs that can easily be ruined by whiskey is the liver. We have all been warned of this, but how much is actually too much? Well, by drinking three or four glasses a day, a person has a much higher chance of developing chronic liver disease. It may not seem like much and a person may feel completely fine after drinking the stuff for years, but the damage builds up over time and is sure to catch up with any devout whiskey lover. A drink a day may seem like it will keep the doctor away, but whiskey is best limited to just that. “Want a drink?” “Another time, man.”
We’ve said a few times that drinking whiskey in moderation is the key to gaining its benefits, but what exactly does “moderation” mean? According to Harvard University, this is one drink daily for women and no more than two for men. However, one drink does not mean filling a glass to the brim with some smooth Tennessee whiskey. Rather, one glass is 1.5 ounces. “It’s under three ounces.” Over time, though, one glass of whiskey each evening can make a person feel differently than before. Building up a tolerance to alcohol can be dangerous because it can cause over-drinking, and, over time, the liver learns how to more easily and quickly break down the alcohol in a person’s system. The brain has a similar reaction. It will literally alter itself and adjust to handling alcohol so well that a person will no longer have any of those loopy effects people may have felt when they had their first drink.
And, when it comes to drinking too much, your brain will never be the same. Bottom line? Moderation is key! Also, it’s worth mentioning that people who require medication and drink whiskey, or any other type of alcohol for that matter, can be at substantial risk to the drink’s more negative effects. This also applies to pregnant women, current or recovering alcoholics, and those with liver disease. Please, partake safely!