COVID-19 update


    ‘This COVID-19 pandemic could certainly drive some people to drink. As always, while a drink or two with dinner is fine, more than a couple is considered unhealthy.’

    COVID-19 around the world has now reached almost 32 million cases with nearly a million deaths. The Philippines, 292,000, with 5,100 deaths and 1,700 new cases. USA, almost 7.1 million, with 205,000 deaths, 3,800 new cases. India, 5.6 million, 90,000 deaths, 21,000 new cases, the highest, followed by UK, 404,000, with 42,000 deaths and 5,000 new cases.

    The cold and flu season is here. FDA advises flu vaccine now, especially for the elderly.

    Antibiotics are useless for viruses. About 30 percent of prescription for antibiotics are unnecessary and a waste of money. Abuse in the use of antibiotics leads to bacterial resistance, which costs the US healthcare about $20 billion annually and contributes to $35 billion in lost productivity every year. If we, as a society, allow bacterial resistance to develop by frequent use of antibiotics for the wrong diseases, we will someday soon lose our effective weapons against infections, and become helpless, dying from simple infections, as we were in pre-1928 era. Remember, antibiotics are not effective against viruses, like cold and flu, bronchitis, sore throat (except Strep throat, which is bacterial). Abuses have consequences.

    This COVID-19 pandemic could certainly drive some people to drink. As always, while a drink or two with dinner is fine, more than a couple is considered unhealthy. Here are some facts about drinking.

    Cheers! Ganbei! Salud!

    Social drinking is the invention of modern society. And as long as it is done with grace and discipline, and in moderation, the etiquette is totally acceptable. However, as far as calories go, alcoholic beverages contain one of the highest, per ounce. This is one reason why the choice of cocktails is important for those watching their calorie intake or weight, and to protect their heart and liver.

    The National Institute of Health reports that “the pounds put on during the holidays account for half of all the weight gained annually…and the unsuspected culprit is alcohol.”

    While the observation is totally significant and relevant in the United States, it is today also apropos in other cultures around the globe, albeit, in general, less in Asia.

    The five most fattening cocktails

    1. Eggnog: 257 calories and 14 grams of fat, without alcohol, and more than 300 calories when you add distilled spirits.

    2. Martinis: Many Martinis have 2-5 ounces of liquor and sugary syrups and can have 800 calories per drink. The “Dry” Martini, though, which is basically pure gin (or vodka) and a drop or two of vermouth, plus a couple of olives, may be around 200 calories. Without the olives and vermouth, it could drop down to 100 calories.

    3. Hot Toddies: Hot toddy plus 2 ounces of liquor is about 200 calories. Adding creamy liquors, like Kahlua or Baileys, Schnapps or Amaretto, it adds about 100 calories more, making it a total of 300 calories.

    4. Margaritas: Whopping 400 calories per drink.

    5. Mixers: An ounce and half (45 cc) of 80-proof spirits is roughly 65 calories, and together with 6 ounces of mixers (cola and other soda, plus syrups), the calories zooms at least a couple of hundreds.

    Five lower-calorie drinks

    1. Champagne: The traditional drink for toasts is about 100 calories per drink, which is not too excessive for the waistline.

    2. Wine Spritzer: With 3 ounces of club soda, the 3 ounces of wine to make the spritzer total about 60 calories, and zero fat.

    3. Wine: A glass of wine is about 100 calories. Great choice, especially the red variety.

    4. Beer: Regular has about 150 calories and light beer, about 100 calories per can/bottle.

    5. Gin or Vodka and Soda, or as a Dry Martini: one and a half ounces of 80-proof, with soda mixer or straight (without any mixer), have less than 100 calories and zero fat.

    Choosing red wine is smart move, as it is good for cardiovascular health. Red wine has been singled out because the skin of the grapes where they come from contains phytochemicals, such as resveratrol, that help protect the plant’s self-defense system, and proanthocyanidins (OPC) and cathechins, which are also powerful antioxidants. Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University have confirmed the beneficial effect of these potent antioxidants that aid in preventing cancer and heart coronary heart disease. Also, the alcohol in it has some sedative and euphoric effects when wine is taken in moderation, and these are healthy for the psyche, especially in these stressful times.

    Not all red wines are alike or equal, though, as far as the amount of resveratrol they contain. Research on70 red wines from New York rated the Pinot Noirs (Pino Nwahs) to contain the highest amount of this phytochemical, with an average content of 13.6 micromoles per liter, about twice found in Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernay Sow vin yong), Merlot (Merlo), and Cabernet Franc. The specific wines and vintages with very high level were the ’97 Pinot Noir from Benton-Lane Winery in Oregon and the ’98 Noble Muscadine from Dennis Vineyards in North Carolina. Large commercial wineries manipulate their wines more and reduce the resveratrol and other antioxidants as a result; small wineries utilizing the old European technique produce wines with higher resveratrol.

    Most wines, red and white, contain sulfites and tannin, which cause headaches among some wine-lovers. To enjoy imbibing my favorite Pinot Noir, I have tried DropIt solution, which stops wine headaches by reducing sulfite and tannin in wine (1-2 drops for white and 2-3 drops for red, per 6 ounce-glass). It works. For more info: email

    While drinking alcoholic beverages weakens our resistance (or makes us more susceptible) to other “temptations,” like eating more and succumbing to additional high-calorie desserts (pecan pie, crème brulle, or chocolate mousse, etc), the technique of drinking two glasses of cold water after each cocktail drink, used by experienced drinkers, not only ward off dehydration (caused by alcohol) but also helps in calorie and weight control.

    So, pick your poison, I mean potion, wisely, hold your liquor with grace, and know when to quit. And as always, let the designated (sober) driver handle the car to avoid being a statistic.

    In the meantime, a votre sante!

    The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people to live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life.

    Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.


    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: and Email: