Is Beer Or Liquor Worse For You
Whether you drink liquor or beer, drinking too much alcohol is dangerous.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid drinking alcohol. It’s a depressant that can be addictive, it causes hangovers and liver damage, and in some cases it can lead to death. But if you’re going to drink, which should you choose?
Beer or liquor?
If your answer is “both,” congratulations, you’ve made the right choice. The two main types of alcohol — beer and spirits — vary greatly from one another not only in taste but also in their effects on the body. Both have negative side-effects, but they differ in severity.
“Alcohol has a very complex effect on the brain and body because the chemicals involved in its production affect different receptors in our bodies,” says Dr. Robert Silverman, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Addiction Medicine. “Some people may be more sensitive than others to the effects of certain substances.”
The difference between beer and liquor lies mostly in how those chemical reactions take place. While both contain ethanol (also known as grain alcohol), there are key differences in what happens when we consume them.
For example, while beer contains less sugar than hard liquor, it does still contain carbohydrates, which means it will raise blood glucose levels in diabetics. This effect is most pronounced with high-glycemic beers like Guinness, Stella Artois, Heineken, Budweiser and Shock Top Belgian White. In fact, a study published in Diabetes Care found that consuming such drinks increased blood sugar levels by an average of 16 percent over control subjects who abstained.
Liquor, on the other hand, doesn’t trigger any increase in blood glucose. Instead, it triggers insulin release into the bloodstream. So, although it raises blood glucose levels slightly, this rise is short lived and generally isn’t enough to cause problems in healthy individuals. That said, it’s important to know that consuming anything containing even trace amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms of type 1 diabetes. People with celiac disease must check labels carefully before buying liquor, since ingredients including barley tend to show up near the top of the list of ingredients. If someone with severe gluten sensitivity consumes liquor, it could be disastrous.
Another major difference between liquor and beer is what happens during digestion. Unlike wine, which breaks down quickly inside the stomach, beer remains relatively intact until it reaches the small intestine. Once there, it begins breaking down into smaller components called maltose sugars. As these sugars cross through the intestinal wall, they stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, which lowers blood sugar. Liquor, however, doesn’t produce this same reaction. Its sugars pass directly into the bloodstream, where they immediately elevate blood sugar levels. This is why many experts recommend avoiding drinking liquor at night, especially if you already suffer from diabetes.
Of course, these aren’t the only differences between beer and liquor. We’ll get into these distinctions further down in the article, but first let’s talk about the dangers of drinking too much.
Dangers of Booze
Drinking excess amounts of either liquor or beer can be harmful. Alcohol abuse is responsible for nearly 4% of all deaths worldwide every year, making it the third highest contributor after smoking cigarettes and exposure to air pollution. When consumed excessively, it leads to a number of health problems, some of which are life threatening.
Long-term excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, whether it’s beer or liquor, increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. A study published in the Journal of Cancer Research showed that drinking more than 14 drinks per week led to an eight times greater chance of getting pancreatic cancer. However, light drinkers were shown to have no greater risk than non-drinkers. Moderate drinking (one drink per day) was associated with half the risk compared to nondrinkers. Another study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that moderate drinking (no more than 2 drinks per day) significantly reduces pancreatic cancer risk.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can also result in cirrhosis of the liver, which occurs when chronic heavy drinking damages the liver’s ability to process toxins. Cirrhosis progresses slowly over time, eventually leading to scar tissue replacing normal liver cells. Eventually, this scarring can prevent the organ from functioning properly. Symptoms include loss of appetite, jaundice, fatigue and swelling of the abdomen. Those who develop cirrhosis need a liver transplant or die. There is currently no cure for cirrhosis.
One particularly nasty form of liver damage caused by long-term alcohol use is hepatitis C infection, which affects around 3 million Americans annually. Hepatitis C is spread primarily via contact with infected blood, and it often develops into full-blown cirrhosis within 20 years of infection. Other forms of hepatitis, such as B, don’t seem to be affected by alcohol.
Finally, alcohol abuse can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Not only do obese people have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, but being overweight puts you at greater risk of becoming intoxicated faster than someone who weighs the same amount of pounds but carries extra muscle mass. Of course, obesity itself contributes to these conditions, so it’s difficult to say exactly how much of the problem stems from beer or liquor.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to note that moderate drinking is good for you overall. Drinking just one glass of wine daily can reduce your chances of dying prematurely by 29%, while binge drinking can cut your lifespan by 15%. These benefits apply equally to beer and liquor.
So, next time you head out for happy hour, consider choosing a healthier option. Just remember that moderation is the key.
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