Orange Coast Magazine

The Varying Limits of “Moderation”

The importance of moderation in alcohol intake has been realized since antiquity. Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine, said, “Wine is fit for man in a wonderful way, provided that it is taken with good sense by the sick as well as the healthy.” Paracelsus, a German physician in the Middle Ages, invented the word alcohol and stressed the tonic value of wine: “Whether wine is nourishment, medicine or poison, is a matter of dosage.”

The current (2010) United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes moderation, which is defined as up to one drink a day for women and two for men. To understand “moderate drinking,” consider that in the United States, a standard drink (or unit) contains 17.7 ml or 14 gm or 0.6 ounces of ethanol which is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of 12 percent ABV wine, or a shot of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor. A full bottle of wine contains 750 ml or 25 ounces, which is 5 to 7 standard drinks depending on the alcohol percentage. The amount of alcohol consumed rises more rapidly per unit volume ingested as the alcohol percentage goes higher. The lesson here is pay attention to the tiny alcohol percentage figures on the front or rear label of a bottle of wine. Plan to scale back the volume of drinking with a higher alcohol percentage (above 14.5 percent) or reach for a lower alcohol wine to insure that you stay within the confines of “moderation.”

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