Cheers! Let’s be honest, ever since prohibition, alcohol has been marketed as sexy and all the “cool kids” are doing it.

 

Think about the famous quote from the movie Can’t Hardly  Wait, “Nobody drink the beer. The beer has gone bad!” Enjoying alcohol for many is a learned practice and few, if anyone, says they like the taste of wine, beer or liquor the first time they have it.

If we didn’t have the advertisements, events and few studies “saying” alcohol is beneficial for our health, would we drink or drink as often? I mean, hemp/CBD was coined as bad for so long, and now, when I talk to clients about the uses and benefits of using hemp, I get the impression they think I am a drug dealer.

As for alcohol, every few months, I take a booze break to experiment with how much better I can feel, and where I can repurpose my time, money and energy. Have you ever experimented with this too?

When I delve into these breaks, I have to inspire myself by reviewing why it’s a good idea for my health, my work and my family (I am a way cooler mom when I am not sleep deprived). Some of the information I review, includes the below. Who wants to do a dry month with me?

Why Do We Drink Alcohol?

Uncovering why we drink alcohol is the first step in decreasing the occasions. Is it comfort in holding a wine glass when out to dinner or mingling with friends? Is it the placebo effect that it helps us socialize? Is it a thing to do when we are trying to avoid thinking about something else on our plate? Knowing why we drink can be helpful in knowing what to fill that space with while cutting it back or out, yet, still enjoy ourselves.

Alcohol numbs you at the moment, yes, but it will only exacerbate stress by disrupting your sleep, depleting your micronutrients, impairing your gut, and firing up your immune system hours and days following. Alcohol can more so contribute to depression and anxiety rather than help mental health. Yet, we still reach it to solve worries, stress and for a reward. I am immediately thinking about the times I snowboarded in CO and after a fun day on the mountain, I’d reach for a drink.

Tip: To explore the thinking around why we drink, I recommend any of Anne Grace’s books on the subject of alcohol. Her books are entertaining, empowering and no doubt, insightful.

Alcohol & Health

…or lack of. I am not here to be the food police or party pooper, but sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Once we understand the influence of how things we consume have on our health, we learn to tweak our lifestyle to have a higher quality of life.

When I search “alcohol and health,” on a research database called Pubmed, there are over 130,000 studies that come up, and a micro amount of those studies are talking about any benefits of alcohol.

Some of the common impacts alcohol has on our health include an increased risk of high blood pressure, cancer, liver damage, depression, anxiety, and addiction. Long-term exposure to alcohol can also cause the brain to shrink.

Alcohol & Sleep

  • Alcohol robs you of REM sleep (keeping you in lighter stages of sleep), may contribute to impaired breathing at night, and can wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • Because of impaired sleep, or how alcohol depletes nutrients in the body, it can lead to fatigue.
  • Tips on better sleep

Alcohol & Weight Loss

  • More than 2 alcoholic drinks reduce fat metabolism by 73%. Alcohol also increases estrogen by 300%.

  • Alcohol also influxes sex hormones, including estrogen, which can increase hunger and metabolic syndrome.

  • Booze lowers barriers and increases our chances of eating more food and processed foods.

  • Alcohol can negatively impact gut bacteria, which can change the way you store calories (or that you store more calories). When our gut health is out of balance it throws off our hunger signals, it can increase cravings and fuel inflammation.

Alcohol & Diabetes

  • Alcohol can be a slippery slope for diabetes because our body views alcohol as a poison and halts everything to process it out of our system, which goes back to the risk of low blood sugar levels.

  • In simple terms, the liver produces a constant drip of glucose, hence why we need basal insulin, but when we drink, it stops this job and focuses on metabolizing the alcohol. Wine, liquor, and beer increase the risk of having a low blood sugar even hours after eating and drinking. This is the most common occurrence, yet, we are all individualized. We just need to know how we respond to alcohol and how to manage it. I tend to go high overnight and have learned to slightly increase my basal after dinner or evening of drinks.

  • Important Note On Glucagon: alcohol in the system makes an injection of emergency glucagon less effective as usual, according to research. This doesn’t mean to forgo it if you are in an emergency, but keep in mind that your blood sugar will not rise as quickly.

Takeaways

By doing a dry month, research shows 67% of people will cut back on alcohol over the year. Think of the money saved and energy that’s repurposed!

This is a unique opportunity to remember how to enjoy your life without alcohol and while the health benefits of alcohol are low, there is a balance and joy that comes with the occasions we choose to drink.

Before You Go!

When you have drinks at dinner or out with friends, opt for a lower carb me and something higher in protein and fat. Examples could be fajitas without rice or tortillas, or a bun-less burger with a side of vegetables. A meal higher in fat and protein will take longer to digest, and therefore the alcohol with or after this meal will take longer to digest and therefore more ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) can break down up to 20% more alcohol, which reduces the load on your liver.

This is part of a 4-part series on “Personalized Nutrition.” Be sure to click through all the topics on this subject, which I’ve hyperlinked below.