As a Fitness Professional, I’ve long espoused the idea that the occasional cocktail or alcoholic beverage can actually help my clients.
Now, if they don’t drink now, I’m not telling them to start. However, for those who enjoy an adult beverage now and again, making them verboten can add stress to their lives and may even isolate them from important social interaction groups and opportunities.
Since I approach fitness from a Four Pillar Fitness perspective, I appreciate the benefits occasional, moderate drinking can offer:
Socialization opportunities (loneliness and isolation are increasingly problematic in our society)
Immune system benefits (depending on your choice of adult beverage)
So alcohol is not the devil in my programs or with my clients.
That being said, binge drinking is a horse of a different garage.
The obvious problems with binge drinking should be, well, obvious.
Massive numbers of empty calories – thwarting weight loss and fat loss efforts.
Irresponsible eating – because of the “drunchies” (yes, that’s a thing. Click here to read about it.)
Hangovers – enough said
Lost productivity – have you ever gone to work with a hangover? Nobody, and I mean nobody can function at 100% with a hangover…
Digestive system disruption – um, do I have to explain this one?
Brain cell destruction – binge drinking is like Hiroshima in your brain and CNS.
Guilt, self-loathing and emotional turmoil – stress is a major killer in the US and this just adds stress.
Now, according to a new study, we can add risk of higher blood sugar, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and even stroke and heart attack to the list.
In a study done at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, researchers found that young adults who frequently engage in binge drinking were more likely to have specific cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar at a younger age than those who did not binge drink.
Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study, led by Dr. Mariann Piano, PhD, FAAN, found that binge drinking by young men was associated with higher systolic blood pressure (the force on blood vessels when the heart beats) and that frequent binge drinking also negatively affected cholesterol. Both are factors which contribute to cardiovascular disease.
The study also found that female binge drinkers had higher blood glucose levels.
In reporting the findings, Piano, the Nancy and Hilliard Travis Professor at Vanderbilt said that young adults need to be aware that repeated binge drinking may cause problems beyond those around the experience.
“The risk extends beyond poor school performance and increased risk for accidental injury,” she said.
What we currently know suggests that developing high blood pressure before 45 sets you up with a much higher risk of cardiovascular death later in life.
The study specifically examined the high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and cardiovascular risks. It included 4,710 adults between 18 and 45 who had responded to the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It had 3 classifications;
Non-drinkers – those who abstain
Binge drinkers – those who binge drink 12 or fewer times per year
High-frequency binge drinkers – those who binge drink more than 12 times a year
Men reported high-frequency binge drinking at 25.1 percent of the survey sample, women at 11.8 percent. Binge drinking was reported by 29 percent of men and 25.1 percent of women.
According to Dr. Piano, binge drinking rates are at an all-time high in the US. 1 of 5 college students report binge drinking 3 or more times in the previous 2 weeks. Many students are drinking specifically to get drunk, then blacking out. Average number of drinks per episode is 6 to 7.
She reports that in comparison to previous generations, the pervasiveness, intensity and regularity of binge drinking may place today’s youth at greater risk of damage related to drinking.
Journal Reference – Mariann R. Piano, Larisa Burke, Minkyung Kang, Shane A. Phillips. Effects of Repeated Binge Drinking on Blood Pressure Levels and Other Cardiovascular Health Metrics in Young Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011‐2014. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2018; 7 (13): e008733 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.118.008733