Drink 'em if you got 'em: 5 alcoholic beverages with military health benefits

Drinking in the military is rather common (and always in moderation), as anyone who’s served long enough to make it to the barracks knows.

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Everyone has their own reasons to imbibe (fun, tradition, bets, etc.), but perhaps the most important reason is for health reasons. Here are five alcoholic beverages with little-known health benefits.

1. Gin and Tonic

Health Benefit: Anti-malarial

"Right-o, make mine a double, chap. I feel a nasty bit o' malaria coming on."

“Right-o, make mine a double, chap. I feel a nasty bit o’ malaria coming on.”

The Gin and Tonic was created by the army of the British East India Company to give to soldiers serving in India and other tropical locations where malaria was common. The tonic of the time had large quantities of quinine, a malaria preventative, dissolved in it and thus tasted terribly bitter. To compensate, the soldiers mixed their daily gin ration with sugar and lime into the tonic water to make it more palatable. Unfortunately, the quinine levels of tonic have been severely reduced so Gin and Tonics won’t be making a comeback as a replacement for the dreaded malaria pills.

2. Red Wine

Health Benefit: Anti-Radiation

Maybe they never smile because their teeth are stained red.

Maybe they never smile because their teeth are stained red.

Well ahead of their time, the Soviet Navy issued a ration of red wine to its sailors onboard nuclear submarines because it decreased radiation absorption (or more likely calmed the nerves and stomachs of sailors being exposed to radiation on their shoddy submarines… remember K-19?) As it turns out, they were correct to give the sailors red wine. The results of a 2008 study show that resveratrol, a natural anti-oxidant in red wine, can protect cells from radiation damage. So talk to your CBRNE NCO to see if he has any anti-radiation medicine stashed in his office.

3. Rum

Health Benefit: Mental Well-Being

Anyone who has ever served aboard a ship at sea knows life can be tough, but todays modern amenities make things much more bearable. For early sailing ships heading out over the horizon, this was not the case. Enter alcohol. Originally the sailors were served beer but it had a tendency to spoil, so it was replaced by spirits, in particular, rum.

The daily ration was apparently a bucket.

The daily ration was apparently a bucket.

To help the sailors cope with the tough life of sailing they were given a daily ration of rum (known to the British Empire as a ‘tot’). It is also likely that sailors were given the rum to steady their nerves before a battle. Much to the dismay of sailors, rum rations were discontinued some time ago, with the Royal New Zealand Navy being the last to do so in 1990.

4. Beer

Health Benefit: Surviving life in the military

All the cool kids do it.

All the cool kids do it.

While this may sound like either a no brainer or a stretch, the benefits of beer for troops are numerous. First of all, beer has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. While all the PT troops do helps, the beer helps relieve stress, which is a major cause of high blood pressure and every service member knows the military is a stressful place. Speaking of PT, drinking beer can help prevent fractures and improve bone density, relieve joint pain, and has been shown to be a better post-workout recovery than water. Beer can also help fight colds and infections. Finally, drinking beer has been shown to decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia and can improve creativity. But remember: all of this is when consumed in moderation, so take it easy on the case in your wall locker.

5. Whiskey

Health Benefit: Weight loss

Pictured: Fat Burning supplements.

Pictured: Fat Burning supplements.

Have you been enjoying the health benefits of beer a little too much, noticed that your run time is suffering and you are having trouble passing height and weight? Have no fear, whiskey is here to save the day! Whiskey, already a favorite of American troops, has many of the same health benefits of beer without the calories or cholesterol. Whiskey also has the added benefit of containing antioxidants, which fight cancer and aging. So if you need to get back into fighting shape, pass on the beer and get some good old fashioned American whiskey.

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