There is no doubt that for some people social benefits can be gained by enjoying a few drinks.
This applies to both of us – Chris would not have met his wife without the self-confidence boost of alcohol (they met in a nightclub in Ibiza).
But like all medicines there is a usable dose, with a desirable effect – but take a higher dose and the side effects outweigh the benefits and it becomes an obstacle to a healthier, longer life.
The first few drinks can cause pleasant disinhibition and increased self-confidence.
There is no doubt that for some people social benefits can be gained by enjoying a few drinks (file photo)
This is because alcohol is able to inhibit control & # 39; in the part of the brain associated with decision-making and reduce social behavior and stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
This combination causes the release and lowering of inhibitions that can lead to a feeling of increased cosiness.
However, it is impossible that your fifth or eighth glass has the same effect – the ability of the chemicals to affect your brain in the same way is exhausted. The central chemical in alcohol – ethanol – is harmful, even in small doses. Intoxication has a powerful effect on the brain, affecting all cognitive functions.
But it is not just the brain that gets drunk. The ethanol is distributed around the body and is broken down into an even more toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. It is acetaldehyde that you can smell on the breath of a drunken person, not on alcohol itself, which is odorless.
EFFECTS WHICH ARE THE LAST FOR WEEKS
The combination of ethanol and acetaldehyde triggers an inflammatory reaction that can cause the lining of the intestine to leak. As a result, a substance called bacterial endotoxin can enter the bloodstream.
This leads to further inflammation and is likely to make an important contribution to serious conditions such as liver fibrosis and cirrhosis over many years.
It can take four to six weeks for an ordinary drinker to return to normal after a binge, and much longer for heavy drinkers. The process is probably responsible for much of the short-term and long-term damage of alcohol, including cancers.
Alcohol is not only bad for your brain and body. Intoxication will probably tempt you to make bad decisions about money, sex, food and everything else. These often have long-term consequences that cause enormous unrest.
DRINKING BIN IS ONLY OF ALL
So be warned: alcohol carries a double hazard because it causes stress on the body, plus the increased chance that you make bad decisions.
Every drink you drink makes you angry, as you vividly put forward in an experiment that we did a Horizon documentary a few years ago.
Using ourselves as guinea pigs, we have started to assess what binge drinking does to the body. These questions are important because the current information about the way in which alcohol causes harm or benefit is contradictory.
Some studies suggest that teetotallers die earlier than alcohol drinkers, while studies with animals show benefits of compounds found in wine.
But is not red wine healthy?
The idea that drinking red wine is good for your health is a popular one.
It is true that there are a few chemicals in red wine that have been shown in studies to extend the life of fish. However, this effect has not been observed in humans.
The amount of red wine that you would have to consume to match with the doses given to the fish in the studies would be just heroic: dozens of bottles a day.
For the test we drank exactly the same number for four weeks, but in different ways.
We would stick to the bottom of the government guidelines for men – in 2015, when we conducted the experiment, it was 21 units per week or three units per day (it is now 14 per week).
Chris would drink three units a day, which counts as moderate drinking; X and would drink all 21 units at once on a Saturday night.
X felt self-assured: he was sure he had the better deal, not least because the liver can withstand huge amounts of abuse, so six days seemed like a lot of time to recover.
Chris, on the other hand, would go to work and then drink his glass of wine or one and a half cents. His organs would never have a break and he would never have fun.
Xand was convinced that his way of drinking would not be more harmful and much more fun.
Apart from the humiliation of the experiment, including the last half hour crying that was inconsolable before it slipped into unconsciousness, the Xand tests showed that important markers of inflammation were increased.
THERE IS NO SAFE LOWER LIMIT
Xand had expected the marks to be high after the first binge – but six days later, just before he was about to start the second binge, they had not gone down at all and by the end of four weeks they would have risen.
Inflammation is linked to a range of diseases, from cancer and severe infection to heart disease and dementia.
The test results of Chris were almost identical to those of Xand: the three units per day also caused him considerable damage.
Abstinence is good and one or two months a year (for example for Dry January) may prove that you can do it longer.
So it showed that the amount we drank was more important than the way we drank it.
There was, however, a huge difference. The blood tests also revealed X and had three times the amount of bacterial endotoxin in his blood.
That meant that the binge was so irritating on the inside of his stomach and intestines that they started to leak bacteria into his bloodstream; effectively poison him. We do not know exactly how much you need to drink to cause this effect, but it is probably much less than X and drank.
What our experiment showed was that government guidelines are misleading in various ways.
First, 48 hours after a binge is not enough. We do not know how long you need it, but they are probably weeks and not days.
Secondly, there is probably no safe & # 39; lower limit for alcohol.
The acetaldehyde that your body makes by breaking down alcohol is carcinogenic, and with more than a few drinks, the effects are considerable.
These negative factors do not mean that nobody is allowed to drink: we both still enjoy drinking on social occasions.
Did you know…
When you drink more than a few glasses of wine, the alcohol chemically calms the brain so that it's its own & # 39; calming & # 39; mechanisms start to expand.
When the alcohol turns off, the brain can become agitated, giving you the miserable agitation of a hangover.
But we are careful not to prevent binges and to ensure that our consumption falls within the guidelines of the government. You can reduce the damage of alcohol by planning ahead.
Aim for a drink when you arrive, so that you can enjoy the & # 39; buzz & # 39 ;, then order a soda or water and make it a point of conscious drinking.
If you want to drink a few drinks, it is important to know why you are drinking (that is, because you are celebrating with fizz or unwinding with a gin and tonic) and have a plan to stop.
If you are out with friends or family, share that plan so that no one feels inclined to refill your glass.
If you drink at home in the evening, do so consciously. Even half a bottle of wine three or four nights a week technically counts as a binge.
Is exercise or diet the best way to lose weight?
Ask someone why they practice and it is usually to lose weight. It is a valuable goal, given what we know about weight as a risk factor for diseases that undermine our ability to live well. But does exercise make a difference – or is it more effective to reduce calories?
To figure this out, we threw twins Lyn Maytum and Jen Howden, 47, to see which worked best.
With a weight of almost 12 sts (they are 5ft 7 inches), they were both technically overweight. Jen had an extreme diet for five weeks – as strict as the medical advisers could do while they were still safe – of 1200 calories a day.
She got tight rules for portion control – a typical main meal should be a portion of protein with a palm, a fist-sized portion of carbohydrates and the rest of the plate filled with vegetables. Alcohol was forbidden.
The twin doctors threw twins Lyn Maytum and Jen Howden, 47, against each other to see if a diet or exercise worked best to lose weight
Jen admits that it was difficult. & # 39; I was permanently hungry & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; But I am slimmed down quickly. & # 39;
Lyn received an exercise plan to burn 1,000 calories a day – two hours a day at the gym (not far from a professional athlete's regime). & # 39; I found it incredibly hard to do, & # 39; she admits.
Although both methods caused the same weight loss (one stone and about a third of their body fat), the success of the experiment was easiest to hold.
Overall, the diet was the more sustainable plan – Jen had learned great new habits, such as reducing portion size, and went on losing another half a block. Lyn could not keep up with the amount of movement we had given her, so she did not lose weight.
Are you fit enough to live healthier for longer? Take these do-it-yourself tests to find out …
SIT TO TAKE THE TEST
This is a simple test – where you sit down and get up again – that specialists use to get an indication of their lifespan, because they judge the coordination, muscle strength and balance – all good predictors of a long life. All of these things can be improved, but we are prone to discounts when we get older.
The benefits of strength are enormous: strong muscles are useful when navigating daily life, whether it is shopping or getting children or grandchildren in and out of the car. They also protect us from falls and injuries.
In addition to these obvious effects, strong, healthy muscles improve the levels of fats in our blood, our hormone profiles and help us to manage the sugar content of our blood because they are more sensitive to insulin.
Coordination and flexibility prevent injuries and falls in the same way, which can determine the length and quality of our lives.
By using an exercise program to improve your sit-to-rise scores, you have proof that what you do in the gym or in the park works.
First practice a few times, with a hand on a table for balance. Be warned: the test will be difficult for people who are not used to sitting on the floor, and is not recommended if you have arthritic knees.
Do the test for a mirror in comfortable clothing (shoes off) and try to lower yourself in a sitting position with crossed legs on the floor without using your hands for support or kneeling on the way down, and then return to a standing position without using your hands, knees or arms for support.
Score how well you lower yourself from five, and score your ability to rise to five, deduct one point each time you need to use a hand or knee for support, and a half point each time you lose noticeable balance or wobble.
In a study (published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2014) researchers found that adults aged 50 to 80 who scored less than eight were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared to people who had perfect scores. Each point increase in the test is linked to a reduction of 21 percent of death from all causes.
THE WALK AND WALK TEST
This test consists of finding a piece of flat ground or a running track: set a stopwatch and walk or train as fast as you can for exactly 12 minutes.
The key is to be able to measure how much land you have covered during that time.
When it comes to weight loss, it has been shown that working in a group increases the chance of success by more than 20 percent.
This will be the & # 39; Cooper test & # 39; named after a physician named Kenneth Cooper, who created it in 1968 to assess the fitness levels of military candidates.
He has devised a mathematical equation to assess your level of fitness based on the distance you can travel during that time; the scores are averages for athletes in the age category and are slightly different for men and women. The test does not exceed 50s.
It is clear that there are many people for whom this test is not perfect, but it is a reasonable guide. Your local gym has many other ways to assess your fitness and guide you to a sensible plan.
Distance to reach in 12 minutes
IN YOUR 20S: Mand, 2.2-2.4 km; Ladies, 1.8-2.2km
IN YOUR 30s: Men, 1.9-2.3km; Ladies, 1.7 – 1.9 km
IN YOUR 40s: Men, 1.7-2km; Ladies, 1.5 – 1.9 km
IN YOUR 50s: Men, 1.6-1.9km; Ladies, 1.4 – 1.7 km
THE THREE-MINUTES STEP TEST
This three-minute test is used to assess the basic condition and the health of the heart.
Find a high step or block 12 or 30 cm high and a metronome (or an app for mobile phones that gives audible beeps at regular intervals) – set to 24 beeps per minute.
Warm up for ten minutes (march on the spot, waving your arms). Then start a stopwatch and just go on and off step by step, one foot at a time, in time with the metronome / bleep, for three minutes.
Now record your heart rate in beats per minute by counting the pulse in your wrist.
The number of times your heart has to beat per minute
IN YOUR 20S: Men, 80-85; Ladies, 85-95
IN YOUR 30s: Men, 85-90; Ladies, 90-95
IN YOUR 40s / 50s / 60s: Men, 90-95; Ladies, 95-100
The trick of Cheat for health: get up!
Studies show that sitting is a catastrophe for health. If we come down from our back for three to four hours a day, the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes can be reduced, which is important to help us live healthier for longer.
It is not only that exercise is good for us; it is that our sedentary lifestyle is badly active. Even if you spend an hour in a gym, if you spend a lot of hours, it is bad news for your metabolism.
And pain levels: when we stand, our weight is distributed over all our joints, so that no part is under constant stress. While sitting, all our weight is on our back and there is more pressure coming through our spine – that is why we develop back and neck pain if we are uncomfortable for too long.
Studies show that sitting down is a catastrophe for health (file photo)
Moreover, the muscles on our back are not stimulated. They become weak and do not react well when we walk or run, which leads to deviant movements and pain. Sitting also deactivates our proprioception – the mechanism that indicates where all our joints and limbs are located – so that our muscles and legs react much less.
Meanwhile, research, including studies by Professor John Buckley at the University of Chester, has shown that staying active helps your body metabolize sugar.
This was confirmed in an experiment that Chris did with Professor Buckley for the Trust Me I & # 39; m a Doctor of the BBC, where standing desks were put in the office for a week. Not everyone stayed with it, but among those who did, not only did their blood sugar levels decrease, they also reported less pain and improved overall health, including a lower heart rate at rest.
More standing should be seen as one of the many changes that anyone who cares about his health should try to do. It is not a substitute for a poor diet or lack of other activities, but it is a start.
The quick way to make movement work for you
As part of our series The Twinstitute, we asked Fran Horsford and Jess Hambling, 39, to try two different approaches to getting fit – short bursts of intensive training versus slower, longer periods.
Fran, a former gym teacher, lives in Honiton, Devon, with her husband Christopher, 43, a financial development manager, and their children Barnabas, six, Balthazar, five and Arabella, three. She says:
Just before the experiment I weighed 11th 13lb (I'm 5ft 6in) and I had size 14/16. I was arriving when I had the children together and had no chance to lose the weight of the pregnancy, and then never had time to train.
I had tried to diet, but the weight did not change. It was the toughest I had ever been and it began to affect my confidence.
As part of The Twinstitute, Fran Horsford and Jess Hambling, 39, tried two different ways to get fit
In the experiment I received a 15-minute training with high intensity interval training (HIIT) with a personal trainer three times a week for six weeks. It means intensive training for one minute and slow for one minute – then a full minute of peeling, and so on.
Although the sessions were heavy, they were soon over and I looked forward to the rush of hormones. But I would feel so sick that I could not eat much.
After a month I almost lost a stone and I was back in clothes of size 10/12 and glad that I could show off in shorts with my legs.
My metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories) had increased and my VO2 max (how quickly oxygen gets into your muscles) had also increased, which means I can continue for longer. I never believed that three outbursts of intense exercise could make such a difference one week. I am now continuing with the HIIT training sessions.
Jess Hambling, a former art teacher, lives in Tonbridge, Kent, with her husband Paul, 40, an insurer-insurer, and their two children Leo, four and Matilda, 22 months. She says:
As twins we are each other's greatest champions, but we are competitive. I weighed 9st 9lb (I'm 5ft 4in) and had a dress size of 10/12 before we came to the Twinstitute. I was put on a program where I trained three times a week in the gym with an average intensity for three quarters of an hour.
I mainly ran 50 minutes running and jogging on a treadmill. I found the slow treadmill a little boring until I discovered that I could connect my headphones and catch Netflix, which caused a big distraction. The exercise also seems to have had a positive effect on my mental health – if I would exercise in the morning, I would hum the rest of the day.
At the end of the six-week program, I drove three miles a week, three times a week. I was amazed at my regained ability to continue; sometimes I felt like I could keep running for hours.
At the end of the six weeks I had lost half a stone, to 9 e 2 pounds, and I had the size 8 – I had lost fat and muscle and looked tighter.
I was back in the bikini that I wore five years ago for my honeymoon. Both Fran and I said that practicing had helped us gain more confidence. I stay with the exercise program, because I really enjoy it.
Revealed: how to keep your bones young
As we get older, our bones become less dense, which can eventually lead to them becoming weaker and more prone to fractures – and a broken hip is a known risk factor for premature death.
Physical activity is thought to help keep our bones strong by putting them under stress and subjecting them to shocks and shocks.
Every shock is thought to send these signals to bone cells that cause them to grow back stronger. Bone also responds to local muscle tissue, which may give more bone-building benefits.
Upside down that you are over 40
As a rule, all explosive sports (such as football and sprinting) require a 20-something body to be the best, but endurance sports seem to fit an older body, with top performances at events such as marathons, bikes and triathlons that often enter the fourth decade.
Your ability to capture information for your long-term memory begins to diminish after your teenage years, but experience and wisdom help compensate for it, allowing mental skills such as arithmetic, comprehension and social reasoning to continue to improve in the middle age.
As we have revealed in the Saturday guide, it is possible to acquire mental skills after 40 years – as the teachings of our Mandarin father prove at the age of 79.
His Chinese is improving and he can still beat us with Scrabble.
So which exercise is the best? You might be surprised at what the research suggests.
In a study at Leeds Beckett University, the bone health of elite male and female athletes from the worlds of gymnastics, cricket and cycling were compared.
Each had a DEXA scan to measure bone density in the hips and spine, two common problem areas for fractures in older people. The results were compared with the average bone density for people of the age and gender of the participants.
As expected, the gymnasts had stronger bones than average (thanks to the repeated impact of jumping and landing).
But the results for cyclists and cricketers were surprising. Cyclists were found to have less dense bones on the spine and hips than average (because their weight is supported by their bikes) and cricketers had the densest bones of the three groups.
Although there is a popular perception of cricketers that usually stand still, the results suggest that the short explosive activity (running, jumping and turning) in sport is the most favorable for bone density.
Do not assume that swimming and cycling are sufficient to protect your bone health – our bodies are designed to respond positively to the stress of exertion.
Gradually build up your impact to prevent injuries, but you want to do things that will force your skeleton to bear large loads and respond to shocking shocks such as aerobics, dancing, walking, jogging, skipping, climbing stairs and tennis.
Housework can make you fit
Chris worked with Dr. Chris a few years ago. Andy Blannin from the University of Birmingham to find out if housework could be used as an exercise.
Eight volunteers carried activity monitors while performing household chores, including ironing, vacuuming, washing cars, cleaning windows and planting flowers.
Everything except ironing and dusting counted as a moderate intensity exercise (the best was vacuuming, mopping and mowing) and thus could count for your 150-minute exercise per week.
Chris worked with Dr. Chris a few years ago. Andy Blannin from the University of Birmingham to find out if housework could be considered as exercise (file photo)
But several studies suggest that manual labor is not healthy like physical exercise – it may be that in order to count, it must be voluntary, if not cheerful.
If you like domestic work, it is useful to do it vigorously and to know that it is good for you. If you work as a cleaner, you can do better to do your exercises in a joyful way.
But if you are looking to lose weight, it is a good start to incorporate activity into everything you do. Lively domestic work probably burns the same calories as walking.
Do you want to live healthier for longer? That is possible with our beautiful series by the twin doctors of TV …
Exercise is a panacea – or at least a wonder treatment – for almost everything.
Studies consistently show that it can reduce your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers by up to 50% – and reduce your risk of premature death by up to 30%.
It can reduce your risk of osteoarthritis by up to 83 percent and help prevent falls. This is important because of their effect on the lifespan; up to 75,000 elderly people are hospitalized every year in a hospital with a fractured hip – after which one in five can no longer stand up, while one in three dies within a year.
Exercise is a panacea – or at least a wonder treatment – for almost everything (photo, Alexander and Christopher of Tulleken)
Exercise can also improve mood and sleep quality and reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Simply put, it is one of the ultimate anti-aging activities, the key to longer life.
Compare that with inactivity, that the Ministry of Health is a silent killer & # 39; calls. The sedentary behavior that is normal for many of us is bad for your health. The NHS statistics show that a lack of physical activity may account for one in six deaths, including deaths from cancer, strokes and heart disease – a similar number as tobacco.
Earlier in our anti-aging series, we looked at the health of the brain and sleep. Today we are concentrating on the role of exercise to help us all stay well for a long time. Here we look at how your physical exercise can work best for you.
THE SHORTCUT EXERCISE PLAN
One of the most important problems in training seems to be finding time. With the evidence so stacked in favor of regular activity, it is surprising that we do not all do it and shocking that, according to the British Heart Foundation, 44 percent of adults never sport.
Many people mention lack of time as their biggest stumbling block. So is high intensity interval training (or HIIT) the solution?
It was conceived by Dr. Izumi Tabata, who conducted a study in 1996 comparing the benefits of an hour of moderate exercise, five times a week, with what he & # 39; Tabata & # 39; calls – 20-second eruption exercise with ten seconds of rest, for four minutes – four times a week. The HIIT training won hands.
Since then, top athletes have incorporated their principles into their training in every field. But is HIIT an alternative in the real world – for people who want to become fit to live longer, but feel for a long time?
As part of The Twinstitute, our BBC2 series on health and well-being, we decided to find out by using identical twins against each other to see if short, hard bursts of activity could match the government's 30-minute physical exercise recommendation, five times a week.
Did you know?
Exercise helps to reduce your heart rate at rest, reducing your risk of dying from conditions such as heart disease.
Finding your resting heart rate is as simple as feeling your heartbeat for a minute and counting the beats.
The higher the rate, the greater the risk. Most adults are between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
The fitter you are, the lower it is likely.
It is something that both of us were interested in. We were very fit ourselves; we were on the rowing team at the medical school and early in our career we did long expeditions, climbing mountains or walking in the Arctic.
But we are both now 40 and the requirements of career and children mean that we encounter the same obstacles to fitness as a large number of people in the UK: time, enthusiasm and fatigue.
One of the twins we tested, Fran Horsford, 39, a qualified gym teacher, was no stranger to practice. Her challenge was to commit to sessions of HIIT – her heartbeat for 15 minutes, three times a week, for six weeks to 90 percent of her maximum pushing, to gauge the effect on her health and longevity. Fran's tweeling, Jess Hambling, kreeg 150 minuten matige activiteit per week, zoals aanbevolen in officiële richtlijnen.
Net als Fran was Jess sportief geweest, maar liet haar fitness slippen.
'De HIIT was wreed', zegt Fran. 'Ik had een persoonlijke trainer die tegen me schreeuwde, dus ik deed mijn lichaam harder zitten dan ik normaal had geprobeerd.'
Voor Jess was de grootste uitdaging om 150 minuten beweging in haar week te maken. Ze liep drie keer per week 50 minuten op een loopband.
We zetten de zusters door middel van tests van fitness en uithoudingsvermogen. Fran kon 80 seconden langer rennen dan vóór het experiment. Het zuurstofverbruik van haar lichaam – een maat voor de conditie – verbeterde met 20 procent, een verbluffend resultaat.
Haar rusthartslag was met 28 procent gedaald. Dit is een maatstaf voor hoe efficiënt uw hart werkt en het houdt verband met uw risico op voortijdige sterfte door welke oorzaak dan ook, inclusief hart- en vaatziekten.
Een persoon met een rusthartslag van 70 slagen per minuut heeft een 20 procent hoger risico op overlijden door hartaandoeningen dan een persoon met een hartslag in rust van 50 slagen per minuut. Hoewel Jess veel meer tijd aan oefenen had besteed, was de verbetering in haar conditie niet zo dramatisch. Ze kon 56 seconden langer doorgaan dan voorheen, terwijl haar hartslag in rust met 11 procent daalde.
Dit is niet alleen een verhaal over fitness – het gaat over levensstijl en plezier. Om HIIT op de juiste manier uit te voeren, heeft u een fitnessruimte nodig en het proces kan intens zijn. Maar het kan gemakkelijker in te passen zijn omdat het zo kort duurt. Meer tijdrovende oefenprogramma's zoals Jess's kunnen overal worden gedaan – en hoewel de resultaten misschien niet zo dramatisch zijn, zijn de voordelen voelbaar.
We waren gerustgesteld dat alle lichaamsbeweging enorme voordelen biedt voor veel van de aspecten van gezondheid die verband houden met langer gezond leven, zoals hartslag.
Als je weinig tijd hebt, kan HIIT voor jou werken; maar matige lichaamsbeweging kan zowel vreugdevol als effectief zijn.
We werken er nu zelf hard aan om ervoor te zorgen dat we ons aan een regulier regime houden: X en gaat twee keer per week een uur naar de sportschool en zorgt ervoor dat hij nog een uur hardloopt.
Chris worstelt om naar de sportschool te gaan, maar hij doet elke dag minimaal 30 opdrukoefeningen, kin-ups en sit-ups.
Als je wilt beginnen met trainen, is het de moeite waard voorzichtig te beginnen. U ziet vaak een disclaimer in de trant van 'raadpleeg altijd uw arts voordat u aan een trainingsprogramma begint', maar dit is niet altijd nodig.
Loop letterlijk voordat je begint te rennen. De personal trainers in je sportschool zullen advies hebben over hoe te beginnen. Uw huisarts kan u helpen als u zich zorgen maakt en er zijn uitstekende bronnen op de NHS-website om u te begeleiden naar wat misschien goed voor u is. Maar zoek een manier om actiever te worden: het zal je helpen langer gezond te leven – en het kan je leven redden.
- De Twinstitute is op woensdag om 20:30 uur op BBC2.
Samengesteld door Louise Atkinson