Tag Archives: alcohol

Alcohol, Sex…and Fruitflies

Spotted recently – scientists are gathering evidence that sexual frustration drives males to drink. To be honest, this is nothing new – just drop in to any bar or pub and one can gather a lot of evidence of heart-broken guys drowning pint after pint of the stuff.

Male Fruit flies - sex and alcohol don't mix

The latest issue of the journal Science not only provides further evidence of the same, it even tells why sexually-frustrated males(flies, that is) are driven to drink. And the publication even suggests that male humans might behave in the same manner!

The answer lies in a brain chemical – neuropeptide F – which was found higher in male fruit flies who had mated than comrades who didn’t have sex. Those who didn’t get it preferred foods that had a high content of alcohol.

Neuropeptide Y - depleted amounts in the brain are believed to drive one to drink alcohol

Human brains have a similar chemical (neuropeptide y) which may react in a similar way, according to scientists. Work is ongoing to prove this hypothesis. Assuming this is proven true, the next thing scientists will have to prove is: what do teetotallers do?

Drinking Creates New Realities

Just an afterthought in this festive season..

..and just in case, you’re thinking about giving up alcohol in January after the recent excesses, don’t bother say several researchers.

Promises to give up alcohol for a week or two, or even a month, are common in the New Year but are being described as medically futile.

As drinkers begin their DIY “detox” programmes by giving up alcohol, the British Liver Trust is preparing to launch a series of roadshows designed to focus public attention on the growing problem of liver damage.

A consultant hepatologist (liver specialist) in UK has the last word: “Detoxing for just a month in January is medically futile. It can lead to a false sense of security and feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything else with a quick fix.

This is not the same of course as saying that one should continue drinking!

Alcohol on squirrels, sight and sex

The Malaysian Tree Shrew - commonly wrongly called the house squirrel

Who would have thought Malaysia would make a name for itself as having the world’s greatest drinker?  This relates to the ability of one of nature’s creatures being able to imbibe the equivalent of one case of beer every night without getting drunk!

The Malaysian tree shrew, belonging to the squirrel family and the size of a small rat, has been featured  in countless newspapers throughout the world ( here’s one ) and also in several blogs ( tiny malaysian tree shrews live on alcohol but never gets drunk) and is touted as the world’s heaviest drinker. It also has the dubious reputation of being able to consume large amounts of alcohol without ever getting drunk.  What’s their secret? These animals have an unusual metabolism that can convert alcohol quickly into nontoxic ethyl glucuronide (EtG).This stuff EtG is deposited into the animal’s fur, out of harm’s way. Needless to say, human beings are unable to do this.

Which is why in humans, as more alcohol is consumed, one progresses through various degrees of intoxication. One well-known phenomenon is beer-goggles, the phenomenon used to describe the situation that happens when, as one imbibes more and more, there is a perception that  people around you become increasingly attractive. This is humorously illustrated here:

Which brings us to the effect of alcohol on sex – its been wrongly believed that alcohol has aphrodisiac properties. This is a fallacy as all it does is to lower inhibitions and raises irrational behaviour. In fact, taken regularly , it is a known to even cause erectile dysfunction. Even William Shakespeare knew of its effect when the porter in Macbeth said words to the effect that:

“Alcohol increases the desire but diminishes the performance”.

Red Wine – the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

So, is red wine good for you?

The good part relates of course to the much-publicised  high content of polyphenols which originate from the skins, seeds, and vine stems of red grapes. This anti-oxidant comes in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids, the latter being the one well-known for resveratrol, the substance known to be the found in the skin of the red grape (or for that matter, any of the colored berries, like raspberry,cranberry,blueberry,etc).

Red, Rose or White? Choose Red for Resveratrol

One of most well-documented benefits of red wine is the heart protective effect. Moderate consumption of red wine on a regular basis may be a prevent coronary heart disease, as well as increasing the levels of the good HDL-cholesterol. It is believed the polyphenols as anti-oxidants also prevent plaque formation and clogging of the arteries in the heart, besides having an anti-clotting effect that causes ‘thinning’ of the blood.

And what’s moderate consumption? 2 glasses (1 glass=5 oz=150 cc) for men and 1 glass for women daily.

And what about the bad? Even the Bard knew about this –

‘Alcohol provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.’

(Shakespeare (1564-1616), Macbeth; Act II, Scene 3)

Also, apart from migraine and dehydration (the thirst the morning after), the alcohol in the wine interacts with a lot of medications special warning to those taking tranquillizers and sedatives because alcohol is a downer which adds on to the effects of these pills to cause, in extreme cases, inability to breathe, coma and death. Impairment of attention and skills, including delayed reaction times is a well-known danger for drivers, a fact well-known in causing serious accidents on the road. Temporary amnesia is well-known among boozers, and is best exemplified by UB40’s Red Red Wine:

Red, red wine
Goes to my head
Makes me forget that I
Still need you so

And what about the ugly side of drinking wine? This goes to those who pretend to be wine-buffs and make common mistakes.. such as:

  • mis-pronounciation: saying Pinot Noir and pronouncing the ‘T’. Saying Semillion as it is spelt instead of ‘Seh-Mee-Yhon’.
  • Ignorance: complaining that the waiter didn’t pour them enough wine, when the intention was for them to taste it. Or making it a point that the red wine was too warm.
  • Misplaced beliefs: ordering a bottle of expensive wine just so it looks like they know their wine, when they haven’t a clue what they’re actually drinking.
  • Misplaced practices: vigorously swilling the wine around in the glass to allow it to breathe but then embarrassingly spilling it over themselves. Or (this one takes the cake) complaining to the waiter  that the wine was corked, not realising it came from a screw-top bottle.

At the end of the day, it might help, especially to those who do not touch alcohol, to note that the beneficial effects of red wine comes not from the alcohol but from the skin of the red grape, so it is believed that fresh juices from coloured berries, like raspberry,cranberry,blueberry,etc, may confer a similar effect. Cheers!

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Red Wine – Pros & Cons

Alcohol provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.’ shakespeare

(Shakespeare (1564-1616), Macbeth; Act II, Scene 3)

Even the Bard knew the ill-effects of too much alcohol..but really, when is it enough and when is it excessive?

Unless you’re the Malaysian Tree Shrew, the world’s heaviest drinker (featured in my earlier post here), how do you know whether you’re drinking too much? Get pen and paper ready and take this quick quiz here, courtesy of MSN.

red wine

White,Rose or Red? Choose Red for Resveratrol

The benefits of red wine on health are quite well-known, thanks largely to the French Paradox: – the low incidence of heart diseases among  the French despite ingesting foods high in saturated fats; this attributable to taking regular red wine.

So what is it in red (but not white) wine that confers the beneficial effects? This is attributable to the high content of polyphenols which originate from the skins, seeds, and vine stems of red grapes. This anti-oxidant comes in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids, the latter being the one well-known for resveratrol, the substance known to be the found in the skin of the red grape (or for that matter, any of the colored berries, like raspberry,cranberry,blueberry,etc).

One of most well-documented benefits of red wine is the heart protective effect. Moderate consumption of red wine on a regular basis may be a preventative against coronary heart disease, as well as increasing the levels of the good HDL-cholesterol. It is believed the polyphenols as anti-oxidants also prevent plaque formation and clogging of the arteries in the heart, besides having an anti-clotting effect that causes ‘thinning’ of the blood.

And what’s moderate consumption? 2 glasses (1 glass=5 oz=150 cc) for men and 1 glass for women daily.

And what about the bad? Apart from migraine and dehydration (the thirst the morning after), the alcohol in the wine interacts with a lot of medications – special warning to those taking tranquillizers and sedatives because alcohol is a downer which adds on to the effects of these pills to cause, in extreme cases, inability to breathe, coma and death. Impairment of attention and skills, including delayed reaction times is a well-known danger for drivers, a fact well-known in causing serious accidents on the road.

And there’s of course temporary amnesia if you’ve drunk too much!.. as in UB40’s Red Red Wine (watch it here!):

Red, red wine
Goes to my head
Makes me forget that I
Still need you so

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Long May You Live…Live A Long Life

Take  note of the world’s oldest population.. The world’s highest percentage of people living 100 years or more are found on Okinawa Island,Japan. In Okinawa, 28.6 per 100,000 people are over 100 years old, compared with 8.9 for Japan and 3.0 for the USA.  Not only are they physically active even in their 90s, they are generally positive-thinking and contented. You can watch a short CNN video on the lifestyle of Okinawans here.

So what’s the secret? This has caused many a gerontologist to study the reasons for their longevity. Many have done so and their findings can be summarised as follows:

  1. A diet low in fat, salt and sugar– take a look at their typical food pyramid:

    okinawa_diet_food_pyramid1

    You Are What You Eat - the Okinawa Diet

  2. Plenty of Exercise – many are in their 90s and still run, dance or climb trees to pick fruits. Exercise is meant to be enjoyed and this is enhanced by doing it in community groups. This includes mental exercise -keeping one’s  brain active.

    okinawa_seikichi_uehara96_karatemaster

    96 year-old Seikichi Uehara, karate master, showing his pupil a thing or two

  3. No smoking – quite in contrast to the rest of the Japanese.
  4. Moderate or little alcohol– but plenty of green tea.
  5. Good stress management -the closely-knit community provides interactive psychological support and faith which promotes a strong feeling of optimism and positive outlook. There is plenty of mental activity and each is inculcated with a feeling of purpose in life.
  6. Access to good dental & medical healthcare– regular medical check-ups are the norm.
  7. Adequate nighttime sleep of at least 6 hours.

With the above measures, in Okinawa, the incidence of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s is practically unknown, which is quite amazing.

okinawa_laughter2

Laughter-the best medicine

Based on my observations of elderly patients, one additional feature for longevity which seems to be also a norm is having a good sense of humour. After all, laughter is the best medicine and the positive effects on health is certainly no laughing matter! A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center showed that average blood flow typically increases 22 percent during and after bursts of laughter compared to a decrease in blood flow by 35 percent during mental stress.

Those caught in the rat-race will surely identify that their  deleterious lifestyle is the root-cause of ill-health and disease and many can learn a point or two from Okinawa’s elderly..

The Effect of Alcohol..on squirrels, sight and sex

The Malaysian Tree Shrew - the World's Heaviest Drinker

Next to the Olympics, another set of records were quietly being publicised over newspapers and blogs around the world. This relates to the ability of one of nature’s creatures being able to imbibe the equivalent of one case of beer every night without getting drunk!

The Malaysian tree shrew, belonging to the squirrel family and the size of a small rat was featured in a local newspaper recently here. The animal was also featured in countless newspapers throughout the world ( here’s onethe world’s heaviest drinker) and also in several blogs ( tiny malaysian tree shrews live on alcohol but never gets drunk). What’s the secret? These animals have an unusual metabolism that can convert alcohol quickly into nontoxic ethyl glucuronide (EtG).This stuff EtG is deposited into the animal’s fur, out of harm’s way. Human beings are unable to do this.

The progressive effects of alcohol on humans have been well-documented. One of the more well-known is that as one imbibes, there is a perception that  people around you become increasingly attractive. This was confirmed in a recent study by the University of Bristol which gives more credence to this phenomenon, called beer-goggles. The following humorous video illustrates the effect of too much booze and its ill consequences:

Which brings us to the effect of alcohol on sex – its been widely believed that alcohol has aphrodisiac properties. This is a fallacy as all it does is to lower inhibitions and raises irrational behaviour. In fact, taken regularly , it is a known to even cause erectile dysfunction. Even William Shakespeare knew of its effect when the porter in Macbeth said words to the effect that:

“Alcohol increases the desire but diminishes the performance”.

Look forward to hear from those of you who drink!

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