Can a balanced lifestyle include drinking alcohol?

It can, but it depends on many factors such as your family history and mental health. Here are three points to be aware of.

Illustration of a male and female jogging
  1. 1

    Five key factors are involved in maintaining a balanced lifestyle

    Several major medical studies have identified five key factors that are important for maintaining a balanced lifestyle. These are: not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight and not drinking excessively (1, 2).

    Of course, there are other factors that can contribute, like getting enough sleep and avoiding the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of certain prescription drugs. For most people, sticking to the five key lifestyle factors, along with avoiding drug abuse and other risky behaviour, can reduce the odds of developing chronic (or noncommunicable) diseases.
  2. 2

    Avoiding heavy drinking is one of the pillars of a balanced lifestyle

    For some, drinking alcohol can be part of a balanced lifestyle and a way of celebrating and marking social occasions (3). Heavy drinking, whether over a long period or as bingeing, increases the risk of various illnesses (4). Research studies have shown that moderate drinking, on the other hand, may improve heart health (5, 6) and help prevent diabetes (7, 8) in some people (9, 10).

    But everyone is different – therefore, whether moderate drinking can be part of your balanced lifestyle depends on who you are. People who are alcohol dependent or have a family history of Alcohol Use Disorder may be advised not to drink at all. Even light drinking may increase the risk of breast cancer in women (9, 10). The best way to determine if moderate drinking is compatible with a balanced lifestyle for you is to discuss it with a health professional.
  3. 3

    A balanced lifestyle also includes being well mentally and emotionally

    Stress and anxiety can be as damaging to the body as physical illnesses. Some people respond to stress and deal with emotional issues by increasing their drinking (11). This can lead to problems of alcohol abuse and have a lasting effect on health. Avoiding behaviours that can upset the balance between mind and body are critical for staying healthy.

Are you concerned about the effects of drinking on your body?