In June 2019, Grace Jones, Great Britain's oldest living person died at 112. The year prior she told Gloucestershire Live that she could attribute her long life to a glass of whiskey every night. “I started having a nightly tot of it when I turned 50 so I’ve been having it every night for the last 60 years, and I certainly have no intention of stopping now,” she said at the time. It’s no secret that the popularity of the brown spirit is exploding in both sales and notoriety. Global Market Insights, Inc. predicts the whiskey market will exceed $84 billion worldwide by the year 2025. And although whiskey fans know why they love their beloved booze, it’s not necessarily common knowledge that there are many health benefits to imbibing. Maybe Jones was onto something? Here’s what can happen to your body if you drink whiskey on the regular.
First, it depends on your genes
Whiskey typically appeals to a certain set of taste buds, but a person’s genetic makeup has a big impact on how it may affect your body. Interestingly enough, women tend to be better at taste-testing whiskey because of a more heightened sense of smell, according to Forbes.
You could lose weight
Looking to shed the beer belly? Drink whiskey. It contains no carbohydrates and virtually no sugar, and also contains the least amount of calories compared to beer and wine. Harvard University has also found that moderate drinking could help a person lose weight (key point: drinking in moderation) because it can help remove “excess cholesterol” in a person’s bloodstream. One thing to add: skip the mixer if you’re looking to keep calories low as soda or tonic both contain sugar and extra calories.
The common cold or flu may stay away
During Prohibition in the 1920s, even though alcohol was banned, doctors would prescribe whiskey to patients for medicinal purposes. As modern medicine and science has evolved, studies have shown there really are medicinal benefits to drinking just one glass of whiskey when you’re feeling fluish or a cold coming. Dr. William Shaffner, a scientist from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says this is true. "It would not have an effect on the virus itself, but its effect on the body can possibly give you some modest symptom relief. The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection," he says.
You could keep bacteria away
There’s a reason why you see people in movies pouring whiskey onto an open wound: it has historically been used as an antiseptic! According to multiple studies, the properties in whiskey help to remove bacteria. The American Council on Science and Health did an experiment in 2017 to show whether bacteria could grow in various beverages. They placed ice cube contaminated with four different types of bacteria in vodka, peach tea, Coke, whiskey, a martini and tonic water. When they cultured out the bacteria, whiskey was the only one that did not allow any type of bacteria to grow.
Heart-healthy benefits await
Jones’ doctor once told her to keep up with the whiskey because it was good for her heart. She eventually became the oldest woman in Great Britain before her death. As with everything, heart-healthy benefits depend on a number of factors. But WebMD found people who enjoyed a daily whiskey drink were 14 to 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who didn’t drink.
It may lower your risk of dementia
The benefits keep coming! Drinking whiskey can also have a positive effect on the brain long-term. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, studies show that drinking one to six drinks each week can lower the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s among older adults.
You could prolong your life
It’s the ultimate full-circle: drinking whiskey has been proven to actually prolong a person’s life. What could be better than having more time to enjoy your favorite whiskey? (That’s a rhetorical question.) Claudia Kawas, a neurology specialist at the University of California has concluded that people who enjoyed two glasses of alcohol every evening had a slimmer chance of dying sooner. "I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity," she says. Living longer and getting to enjoy a daily drink of your favorite whiskey? Sign us up!