Drinking & Eating Patterns

Regular moderate wine consumption has been associated with several health benefits in adult individuals. However, the risk increases drastically with each drink above moderation! Drinking more than what is recommended in the guidelines will not provide more benefits, only more harm. This widely accepted association is represented in the J-curve.


However, not only the amount but also drinking pattern is believed to be relevant when considering the health aspects of alcoholic beverages. It is better to drink moderately and regularly with the meals than to drink the same amount at a single occasion.

For example,
the data of those who drank alcoholic beverages regularly in Ireland and in France were analysed. In Ireland, beer and spirits are the preferred drinks and most alcohol tends to be consumed on the weekends whereas in France, most of the consumed alcohol comes from wine and it is drunk every day. Comparing these two different drinking cultures, only wine drinking was associated with a lower risk of heart attack and/or stroke after adjusting for confounding factors. No significant risk reduction was found for beer or other alcoholic beverages. The researchers concluded that regular moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), whereas episodic or binge drinking increases the risk.

 Drinking Pattern N.IrelandvsFrance

Furthermore, they suggest that wine associated drinking behaviour is at least as significant as wine consumption as such.


Moderate daily consumption of alcoholic beverages, mainly in the form of wine and usually with meals, is considered part of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Growing evidence indicates that the Mediterranean diet (MD) is beneficial to human health. A MD is characterised by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, minimally processed cereals, moderately high intake of fish, high intake of olive oil, low-to-moderate intake of dairy products, low intake of meats and a regular but moderate consumption of wine.


Many epidemiological and research studies have reported that this diet pattern is able to limit the development and progression of coronary heart disease, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in both developed and developing countries worldwide. There is now a large consensus about recommending a Mediterranean diet to reduce atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease and to limit the risk of fatal complications such as sudden cardiac death and heart failure.


Evidence is also accumulating that wine helps to prevent the development of certain cancers (see cancer). Other studies suggest that elderly people who adhere to a Mediterranean-type diet, including moderate intake of wine and other alcoholic beverages, may be at lower risk for cognitive decline in old age. The researchers explained the effects by the wine's potential role in protecting from brain damage. Traditional Mediterranean foods may also reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which is thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease.


Conformity to the traditional Mediterranean diet may also be associated with lower breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women and could explain, in part, the lower incidence of this disease in Mediterranean countries.



Moderate drinking guidelines are set by governments, so that any potential harm to the human body is minimized and any potential benefit is maximised. Exceptions are young people, combining alcoholic drinks with certain medications, during pregnancy and with a history of addiction. Some guidelines include recommendations to drink with food, to alternate alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and ‘to pace’ drinking.

Based on available scientific evidence and different references provided by various public health authorities, it is accepted that low-risk moderate consumption ranges between the amounts set out in the guidelines below:


Guidelines for low risk moderate consumption:

·         Up to 2 drink units a day for women

·         Up to 3 drink units a day for men

·         No more than 4 drink units on any one occasion.


The above summaries provide an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.





This paper looks at definitions of `drinks' and `low risk' or responsible drinking guidelines from different countries and how to balance a message-based on the Canadian, UK, WHO and US guidelines-that accepts that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. It should be noted that commercial communications regarding the benefits of moderate consumption are banned by advertising and marketing codes across the globe. The discussion looks at themes common to guidelines, where they exist, as well as at the importance of incorporating messages regarding pattern of drinking, drinking with food, messages for older populations, the family setting, and the role of parents as regards their responsibilities towards their children.
Background: Binge Drinking (BD) typically involves heavy drinking over a short time, followed by a period of abstinence, and is common among young people, especially university students. Animal studies have demonstrated that this type of alcohol consumption causes brain damage, especially in the nonmature brain. The aim of the present study was to determine how BD affects brain functioning in male and female university students, during the performance of a visual working memory task. Methods: Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded, with an extensive set of 32 scalp electrodes, in 95 first-year university students (age range 18 to 20 years), comprising 42 binge drinkers (BD) and 53 controls, in a visual "identical pairs" continuous performance task. Principal components analysis was used…
Introduction and Aims. This paper proposes an approach for evaluating the validity of alternative low-risk drinking guidelines. Design and Methods. Twenty-seven alternative guidelines were evaluated in terms of their ability to predict nine measures of concurrent and prospective alcohol-related harm, using longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of US adults (n = 26 438 to 12 339 depending upon outcome). Parameters compared included sensitivity, specificity, adjusted odds ratios and measures of model fit. Results. Performance varied by harm. The guidelines that best predicted concurrent alcohol-related harm comprised daily-only limits of 4/3 drinks for men/women, but gender-invariant limits of 4/4 drinks also performed well. Adding weekly limits did little to improve the prediction of concurrent harm. The guidelines that best…
Many efforts to prevent alcohol-related harm are aimed at reducing risk drinking. This article outlines the many conceptual and methodological challenges to defining risk drinking. It summarizes recent evidence regarding associations of various aspects of alcohol consumption with chronic and acute alcohol-related harms, including mortality, morbidity, injury, and alcohol use disorders, and summarizes the study designs most appropriate to defining risk thresholds for these types of harm. In addition, it presents an international overview of low-risk drinking guidelines from more than 20 countries, illustrating the wide range of interpretations of the scientific evidence related to risk drinking. This article also explores the impact of drink size on defining risk drinking and describes variation in what is considered to be a…
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to see whether levels of alcohol consumption newly included as "moderate" in proposed changes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are associated with significant levels of alcohol-related harm. METHOD: Using longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (N = 26,438; 51.8% female), we compared relative risks and population attributable fractions for nine measures of concurrent and eight measures of prospective alcohol-related harm among three groups of drinkers: those whose consumption lay within the old 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans guidelines for moderate drinking, those in the "gray area" of consumption between the 2005 and proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and those who exceeded the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines…
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