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College drinking and immune health

Posted Oct 13 2010 2:11pm

My college freshman daughters, as expected, are now full tilt into the college booze party environment. Now let me quickly state, both my kids are non-drinkers. I know, I know. You say, “Sure they don’t drink. Right.”  But I do trust that they don’t drink.  At least to any substantial degree. God knows I’ve offered them a sample of beer, wine or other stuff at home, just to show them that drinking shouldn’t be viewed as some big deal to covet when they are of legal age. And they know I’m not an abstainer, and I certainly drank my share in college.  But they always say no thanks. It’s not a religious thing. Just a personal preference. They just don’t like the taste. That may change with time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

Still, that doesn’t stop them from going to parties with their friends. Heck, they’re hot properties as they can both be designated drivers if needed.

But the whole college alcohol scene gets me to thinking again about the impact of too much drinking on the immune system. I think that if I were a student getting an education that, today, costs an arm and a leg compared to my college days, I’d make sure I’m able to go to class every day. I’m not just talking about students who are regularly hung over. I’m also talking about students whose heavy drinking impacts their immune defense and makes them more susceptible to colds, flu, pneumonia, URTI, etc.

Research shows over-drinking can hamper immune cell function . That does not contradict research I posted here in the past showing high-polyphenol and catechin-containing beverages such as wine or dark beer–consumed in moderation–can actually enhance immune response through prebiotic benefits in the gut.

The video above, produced by a supplement company, does give a nicely balanced view of the alcohol pros and cons.

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