At the dismay of pretty much everyone who attends the frequent open bars and late night parties that the business side of our industry has to offer, a chilling warning about alcohol was recently made public. Apparently, there are scientists who claim no amount of alcohol is healthy. This revelation flies in the face of all those earlier studies that suggested things like “a glass of wine per day is good for you” or various articles through the ages where it has been shown to help numerous other ailments. In a world where there are studies to prove anything (and conversely, to disprove those same studies), it’s perplexing to say the least and oftentimes, it’s a matter of how the data is interpreted.
Alcohol has been used to disinfect for centuries, and the Egyptians used alcohol to clean wounds and embalm bodies, and it worked out for them ... right? Regardless, the news was a little disheartening as it came the day after my wife and I picked up our first batch of 30 bottles of wine we fermented at the local wine kit place. Don’t get me wrong, we are definitely still going to drink it. Caution to the wind!
Studies show that alcohol might be able to ward off stomach bugs that might otherwise befall a sober foodie traveler.
At a time when salads (of all things) have sickened over 500 people with a gastrointestinal illness called cyclosporiasis, there could be an unlikely hero during your next trip abroad (or to your local McDonalds). That hero, of course, might be alcohol. It’s probably frowned upon to end up intoxicated and puking in your local play place ball pit as you chow down your chicken salad, so keep reading.
Studies show that alcohol might be able to ward off stomach bugs that might otherwise befall a sober foodie traveler. In fact, your consumption with dinner (or very shortly before or after) may have already saved you from time to time, but what you drink and how much you drink is critical. It’s also a balancing act of risk and reward.
Over 10 years ago, studies showed that wine can not only reduce threatening bacteria, but also kill serious threats entirely. Staphylococcus (Staph) infections can cause boils, food poisoning, facial sores and even toxic shock syndrome. Most E. coli strains live normally in your intestines and are harmless, but nasty strains cause cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Salmonella causes similar symptoms and strikes within eight to 72 hours. Amazingly enough, the leftover grape skins and stems from the wine fermentation process can kill all of these bugs!
The chances of surrendering to bad stomach bugs like the popular headliner E. coli and others like salmonella or listeria are reduced significantly because alcohol’s high acidity boosts your stomach’s natural defenses and ability to kill those germs. The way alcohol does this is called “denaturation” which is fancy science talk for melting away and dissolving the core “organs” of the bacteria. No matter if you are traveling for business or pleasure (or both), drinking could actually stave off foodborne illness because of this (and doesn’t melting away bacteria with booze sound way cooler?). Think of the implications! That means it’s potentially stupid not to drink tequila with your taco dinner in Mexico, enjoy cachaca in Brazil, partake in absinthe in Spain or wine around the world! Tequila is double points if you take salt with your shots — the salt can break down bacteria if it comes into direct contact.
The average woman consumes less than one drink per day, while men generally drink close to two drinks per day on average (although the industry vets seem to drink way more). Now, you have scientific proof you can throw at all those naysayers that suggest you “might have a problem.” You can just tell them you’re very concerned with salmonella and tell them to look it up on the internet. Boom.
However, there are serious potential health consequences. Laboratory studies have shown that the alcohol concentrations were a critical factor and highly significant in affecting bacteria growth. Anything lower than 10 percent had almost no effect. You know what that means. Most beer at around 5 percent doesn’t do squat, and wine around 14 percent barely makes the cut. While alcohols in the 40 percent range were shown to kill oral bacteria and potentially aid with stomach bacteria as well, they cause inflammation and bleeds that can take more than 24 hours to heal. That means daily drinking in excess is out as it damages the stomach lining. In a bit of a twist, chronic alcohol use has actually been shown to increase bacteria growth in the bowel, commonly causing alcoholics to suffer symptoms that mimic foodborne illness.
Even though too much alcohol can wear down your immune system and have you cursing your life choices while you clutch the toilet until morning … it might just help you beat that bug you never knew you had. File that fact in your memory right next to the lore of using Coca-Cola to clean your toilet. That one might come in handy when you’re finished with a night of too much drinking!
With all the industry travel coming up for conventions and the like, drink up! Or, maybe don’t. It’s complicated. It’s a love-hate relationship. Insert the mandatory “drink responsibility” disclaimer here ... blah blah blah. Some future study will probably come along to disprove all of this anyway.
Juicy Jay is the CEO and founder of JuicyAds, the Sexy Advertising Network. You can follow Jay on Twitter @juicyads, visit JuicyAds.com or like on Facebook.com/juicyads.