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Fact or Fiction: How drinking and diet affect your health

9NEWS medical expert Dr. Comilla Sasson joined us at 4 p.m. for another round of Health Fact or Fiction. Drinking often seems to go up during the holidays. How do diet and drink affect your overall health?

9NEWS medical expert Dr. Comilla Sasson joined us at 4 p.m. for another round of Health Fact or Fiction.

1) Drinking too much alcohol affect your heart? TRUE

There is a medical condition called “holiday heart,” which can be caused by a binge alcohol drinking episode, combined with the stresses of too much salt, caffeine and high blood pressure.

This can cause the heart to go into an irregular rhythm called atrial fibrillation, where the heart begins to beat irregularly and very quickly. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to strokes and blood clots in the lungs. So, take it easy on the alcohol, coffee and salt. And take time to de-stress, especially during this sometimes-stressful time of year. 

Over time, drinking too much alcohol daily can also stretch the muscles of the heart and cause the heart to not function well. This is called dilated cardiomyopathy and lead to heart failure. 

Take-home tip: Moderate your alcohol, caffeine and salt intake.

2) My holiday meal won’t impact my medications. FALSE

If you are taking medications, it’s important to keep an eye out on the following common foods which may make it into your holiday meals.

  • Green, leafy vegetables interact with warfarin (which is a blood thinner) (e.g. spinach, brussels sprouts, kale, parsley)
  • Grapefruit can affect your cholesterol (e.g. statins), high blood pressure (e.g. calcium channel blockers like nifedipine, amlodipine), and erectile dysfunction medications (e.g. Viagra and Cialis)
  • Dairy products (like ice cream, milk, eggnog) can decrease the effect of some antibiotics like doxycycline, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin
  • Alcohol can interact with medications for pain, depression, anxiety and sleep. This potent combination can lead to a person becoming very sleepy and stopping breathing.

Make sure you look at your medication labels to look at potential interactions with food and drinks.

3) Food can help boost my mood when I start to get stressed during the holidays. TRUE

  • Vitamin C- Oranges, kiwi, bell peppers are just a few places to find Vitamin C. Most people think Vitamin C is just for fighting off infections, but it can also be helpful to decrease stress hormone called cortisol.
  • Avoid the carbohydrate crash and burn- Choose complex carbohydrates like steel-cut oatmeal, pastas, beans rather than simple carbohydrates (e.g. cookies, rice, candy).
  • Fish- Salmon and other fatty fish (e.g. tuna) contain omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart but also for your brain and mood. They contain DHA, EPA and vitamin D which can all be mood boosters.
  • Dark Chocolate- 1.5 ounces can help decrease cortisol levels, be good for your heart, and boost your mood.

Follow 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson on Facebook and Twitter. Have a medical question or health topic idea? Email Dr. Comilla at c.sasson@9news.com

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