March is National Nutrition Month
The science-based Harvard Good Eating Pyramid recommends the moderate consumption of alcohol (beer, wine, distilled spirits). The Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health presents healthy eating with an adaptation of the original USDA food pyramid from 1992.
Harvard’s Healthy Eating Pyramid, produced by the Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, was co-developed by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health. It is based on the best available scientific knowledge and recommends drinking alcohol in moderation (unless there is a good reason to abstain).
Drinking patterns appear to be as important as the amounts consumed. “The key to healthy, moderate consumption is a regular, one to three drinks per day pattern.”* However, drinking a “weeks worth” of alcohol over a period of a few hours would be unhealthful, even dangerous, and clearly to be avoided.
What Is Moderation?
Medical researchers generally describe moderation as one to three drinks per day. It appears that consuming less than about half a drink per day is associated with only very small health benefits. Four or five drinks may be moderate for large individuals but excessive for small or light people. Because of their generally smaller size and other biological differences, the typical woman should generally consume 25 to 30 percent less than the average man.**
* McDougall, Graham. Older Women’s Cognitive and Affective Response to Moderate Drinking. Presented at the meetings of the National Congress on the State of Science in Nursing Research. Washington, D.C., October 7-8,2004; University of Texas at Austin. Moderate drinking in older adult women has positive influence on memory. News release, October 3, 2004.
** Mulkamal, K.J., et al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of dementia in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003 (March 19), 289, 1405-1413.)