The ills of alcohol are well known. However, study after study indicates that people who drink in moderation live longer and are happier. The studies point to alcohol's magical power to; increase your "good cholesterol," thin your blood of stroke-inducing clots and help your body absorb glucose.
These studies haven't helped to resolve why a drink or two a day can be good for you.
The inquisitive Canadians at the National Post apparently weren't pleased with these findings alone.
Further away from the hard science is some interesting speculation from Stephen Braun, the author of Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine:
...alcohol as a muscle relaxant. "The heart is a muscle and there are muscles around the blood vessels; so if you relax those muscles, you're going to lower the blood pressure," he says. "It's plausible."
How about alcohol as a mind relaxant or a stress reliever?
"You have to take into account the mind-body connection here," he says. "It does help people relax in more of a mental way. If you are relaxing your mind and that could lower your cortisol levels; it could have other physiological effects that come with relaxation that are good for you."
That being said, it still might be more beneficial to perform yoga than swig a bottle of beer. "Have a beer and do yoga and it'll probably be better," Braun says with a laugh.
Even better: have a beer, do yoga and invite some friends. People with more social connections are generally healthier and people tend to drink socially. So having a drink or two with friends is good for the soul and good for the body. The operative words are "a drink or two."
OK then, hows this?: Drink a beer, smoke a joint, make love, take a nap? :-)
This provides so much validation for all the articles from the Pioneer Press my great-grandmother cut out and saved in a notebook noting the health benefits of beer. I thought it was just one of those things that modern studies would have discounted but I'm glad to hear they're still valid.
On an unrelated side-note - on the prison garden story - could the inmates can/freeze or donate the produce to food banks (generally in need of fresh vegetables) so it's ever so slightly reducing food costs for prisons, and not competing with farmers? Canning would support an American-made mason jar industry...