Alcohol: Is There A Healthy Way To Enjoy It?
Particularly as a means of celebration, there's always the tendency to relax and over-indulge, which can mean drinking more than you should.
When it comes to alcohol, you should avoid cocktails, spirits and anything that contains colourings, chemical additives or preservatives. Distilled alcohol is too hot for the brain and the chemicals in commercially produced alcoholic beverages can add harmful toxins to your body.
On the other hand, there are actually healthy ways you can enjoy naturally brewed and fermented alcoholic drinks like beer and wine - and believe it or not, they also have beneficial qualities when consumed in moderation.
Interestingly, ancient cultures referred to beer and wine as sacred drinks (known as “sacraments”), because of their ability to promote calmness, boost immunity, aid digestion and even slow the process of ageing.
Keep reading to find out how you can still enjoy an alcoholic drink in moderation without the harmful side-effects.
Cutting Down on Alcohol
While there are healthy ways to enjoy a drink, it's important to realise that excess consumption of any type of alcohol can lead to diseases like:
- Heart failure
- Liver failure
- Nerve damage
- Loss of brain cells
- Muscle dis-ease
- And much more
If you’re trying to avoid alcohol, or you feel like you're becoming alcohol dependent, there are steps you can take to cut down gradually.
For certain personality types, this may be more effective than a 'cold-turkey' approach, which can leave you on edge and may even cause you to rebound or binge in a moment of weakness.
Here are some simple tips that can help to reduce your cravings and wind back your level of alcohol consumption:
Apples: Apples are an effective remedy for alcoholism. The pectins in apples help to clear toxicity in the body and to nourish the cells, reducing the craving for intoxicating drinks.
Social Drinking: Avoid social gatherings where the focus is alcohol, like pubs and parties. If you can’t avoid them, drink slowly or add a non-alcoholic beverage in between each drink (e.g. sparkling mineral water with fresh lime is a good choice).
Set Limits and Rules: Set a limit for two alcohol-free days per week and remove alcohol from the house. If you are in the habit of drinking regularly, this can be a great way to disrupt the pattern of subconsciously reaching into the fridge for a drink which is easy to do when there is always alcohol in your home. Have a rule not to drink before 5pm unless on very special occasions.
Drinking Diary: Write down every time you drink during one week. This will give you a better idea of how much you’re actually drinking, whether it’s within safe guidelines or not, and help you find patterns.
The over consumption of alcohol can take its toll on your physical, mental and emotional wellness, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Once you’ve made the distinction between the harmful and healthy way to consume alcohol, you can still enjoy a drink without going overboard and causing damage to your health.
Avoid Distilled Beverages
Certain alcoholic drinks should be avoided at all costs because they create chaos in the body and brain. These are typically distilled alcohols contained in most liquors, spirits and cocktails.
These alcoholic drinks are often filled with additional chemicals that should also be avoided.
Even just a weekend of heavy drinking can cause a buildup of fatty cells in the liver. While this organ has remarkable recuperative powers, continued abuse can lead to permanent liver damage and problems in metabolising glucose and various vitamins and minerals.
Benefits of Beer & Wine in Moderation
As long as you don't go overboard, drinking the right types of beer and wine in moderation not only can help you relax, socialise and unwind, but there are also in fact some known health benefits.
Cholesterol: It has been reported in several studies that regular consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol lowers the incidence of coronary heart dis-ease and raises the level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (“good cholesterol”). Moderate consumption of red wine and beer also prevents bad LDL cholesterol from forming and keeps the arteries clear. Just a glass daily of red wine can help lower cholesterol because of a compound found in grape skins.
In fact, the Greek and French rarely ever develop heart dis-ease or hardening of the arteries, despite their high-fat diet. One of the reasons is likely the red wine that they drink.
Gut Health: because beer and wine are fermented, they can contain helpful bacteria that can improve your gut health. Since your immune system is centred in your gut, this can have a wide-ranging impact on the rest of your body, from your skin to your memory, digestion and more.
Relaxation: beer and wine can promote relaxation, when enjoyed in moderate amounts. Stress is a silent killer, and can lead to an incredible amount of illness and dis-eases without you even realising. By helping yourself to relax at the end of a long day with a glass of wine or beer, you could be helping to protect your body from the destructive effects of chronic stress.
Nutrition: naturally brewed, additive and preservative-free beer is actually very nutritious. The protein, fibre, vitamins, and probiotics deliver significant health benefits when combined with a clean diet. However, when you drink to excess, or you combine drinking beer with a diet that is heavy in processed, fatty and refined foods, much of the benefits are negated.
Protective Benefits: Whilst many people avoid beer and wine for health reasons, it's interesting to note that many healthy, long-lived cultures consume naturally brewed beer and fermented preservative-free wines regularly at meal time. The anti-oxidants in these beverages inhibit free-radical scavengers, help to remove poisonous heavy metal like lead, copper and mercury from the body and can even boost metabolism and promote weight loss.
More Facts And Benefits Of Naturally Brewed Beer
Cultures all around the world, have been drinking beer for thousands of years.
Beer, when made the way it’s meant to be is usually brewed from yeast, hops, maize, malted barley and rice. Enjoyed in moderation, beer can help to reduce risk of heart disease, strengthen bones and boost your cardiovascular health.
The natural fermentation process delivers a nutritional content that not only includes alcohol, but also vitamin B2, B6 and B9, which are all very beneficial to our health.
However, unless you make your own brew at home, you need to be selective about which beer you choose.
Most big brands are heavily processed with chemical additives, instead of being naturally brewed and preservative-free the way beer is meant to be. For this reason, look for additive-free brands sourced from local micro-breweries that honour the process of how beer is supposed to be made.
More Facts And Benefits Of Fermented Organic Wine
Anciently, in cultures where water was scarce, wine become an essential of life rather than a luxury, so it came a symbol of sustenance.
For decades, studies have shown that drinking wine in moderation is good for you due to the antioxidant content, promoting longevity, protecting against heart disease and harmful inflammation. Interestingly, red wine likely has higher levels of antioxidants than white wine.
The main antioxidant in red wine is known as resveratrol which protects your blood vessels and may prevent blood clots. Resveratrol also decreases bad cholesterol in the body.
To this day, mediterranean cultures consider wine as one of the most important elixirs known to man, with 1-2 glasses enjoyed almost daily with a meal. Wine is a beverage to be savoured and sipped with food and is not designed for binge drinking, which will negate any of wine's health and longevity benefits.
Drinking wine in moderation has also been shown to help reduce the risk of having dementia which often leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a developing mental deterioration that can occur as one aged. Again, the resveratrol found in wines helps in keeping blood vessels open, so that the essential supply of oxygen and glucose can move freely to the brain to keep it alive and working
Overall, red wine is the healthiest type of wine you can drink and the best of the red wines is Pinot Noir which is a cold climate harvested wine. According to The Daily Meal, Pinot Noir has a higher resveratrol concentration than any other red wine available and it is one of the lightest and easy-to-drink wines of all.
Choose Your Wine and Beer Carefully
Beer and wine are some of the most popular beverages in the world, which means you’re going to have a lot of brands and varieties to choose from. Unfortunately, most commercially-made beer and wine brands are over processed and full of preservatives, so do your homework on when selecting your brands to buy.
Firstly, avoid all of the big commercial brands and look for beers that have been made in microbreweries that follow traditional brewing methods; and wines from growers that use organic practices and who manufacture without or with minimal sulphates or chemical preservatives.
Visit big bottle shops which have large varieties of beer and wine where you will also find a selection of quality options. Check the labels and if you're unsure ask the knowledgeable staff who work there.
The main takeaway is that not all alcoholic drinks should be treated the same.
If you're going to consume alcohol, it's best to stick with beer and wine that is made from traditional methods, allowing you to still enjoy a drink in moderation, without harming your health.
Remember, beer and wine made the traditional way without toxic chemicals added, have been considered "sacraments" (sacred fermented beverages) all throughout history by many long-lived cultures.
So, for a healthy life there's no need to avoid alcohol, you just need to be sensible and smart about which types you choose and to not go overboard.
Tolman Self Care.