Handgrip strength is important because it’s a useful indicator of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a progressive and general loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. It often causes functional impairment, falls, disability, loss of autonomy, poor quality of life, and death. Is there a relationship between drinking alcohol and handgrip strength?
A Study of Alcohol and Handgrip Strength
Researchers examined drinking alcohol and handgrip strength. To do so they studied 1,719 Japanese men and women 70 years of age. They calculated alcohol consumption per day using the Japanese alcohol unit. It equals 22.9 grams of alcohol or 1.6 U.S. standard drinks. Learn more about standard drinks.
The investigators categorized participants into several groups. There were abstainers, occasional drinkers, daily light drinkers, and daily moderate drinkers. The daily light drinkers had 1.6 to 3.2 U.S. standard drinks daily. Daily moderate drinkers had from 3.2 to 4.8 U.S. standard drinks each day.
Handgrip strength increased significantly with increased daily alcohol consumption. This was true for both men and women.
These findings are consistent with other research. The research shows that moderate drinking is associated with better health and longer life than abstaining.
Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender, low level of physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. The latter includes inadequate intake of energy, protein, and vitamin D. Other risk factors may be heart failure, smoking tobacco, and inflammation.
Probably contributing to sarcopenia are these factors.
- Reduced ability to synthesize protein.
- Decreased growth hormone levels.
- Fewer motor nerve cells.
Sarcopenia causes a decrease in resting metabolic rate. This leads to higher insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes), and higher cholesterol. Naturally, it also leads to weight gain.
Clearly, slowing the progression of sarcopenia is desirable both individually and societally. It appears that drinking alcohol reduces sarcopenia. Of course, discuss this with your doctor.
- Kawamoto, R. et al. Alcohol Consumption is Positively Associated with Strength of Handgrip Among Japanese. Int J Geron, 2018. doi. org/10.1016/j.ijge.2018.03.005 (online)
- Evans, W. What is sarcopenia? J Geron, 1995, Spec No 5-8.
- Facts about Sarcopenia (webpage)
- Santilli, V. et al. Clinical definition of sarcopenia. Clin Cases Min Bone Metab, 2014, 11(3), 177-180. (abstract online)
- Walston, J. Sarcopenia in older adults. Curr Opin Rheum, 2012, 24(6), 623-7. (online)
- Zanandrea, V. et al. Interventions against sarcopenia in older persons. Curt Pharm Des, 2014, 20(38), 5983-6006. (abstract online)