Can You Mix Alcohol with a Healthy Lifestyle?
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, there are sure to be plenty of social gatherings and maybe a few alcoholic beverages in your near future.
If you’ve been working towards better health, the amount of green beer that will be forced into your hands might make you a little nervous.
A lot of people wonder if you can mix alcohol with a healthy lifestyle.
At face value, beer is full of carbs, mixed drinks are packed with sugar and alcohol, in general, can be harmful to your liver. It seems pretty bleak.
Well, of course, everything in moderation (including moderation, as Oscar Wilde once said) but you knew that was coming. What is the real need-to-know intel when it comes to imbibing now and then while trying to stay healthy?
Let’s start by defining what “moderation” means.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. However, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that people who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.”
Now, you’ve probably already heard that alcohol isn’t the best for your brain, liver, waistline or general health.
Right off the bat, too much alcohol leads to an elevated heart rate, slurred speech, poor coordination and loss of muscle control. That can’t be good.
Alcohol and your waistline
Plus, alcohol is packed with calories. According to Live Limitless, “alcohol is a very dense source of energy. One gram of alcohol is equal to 7 calories. That comes in just under fat (9 calories per gram) and just above carbohydrate and protein (both 4 calories per gram). […] The average pint of lager checks in at about 180 calories, a glass of 13% ABV white wine averages about 159 calories, and an 80 proof shot is going to be 64 calories, and this doesn’t account for any chasers or mixers.”
The difference is that you need fat, carbs and protein. Alcohol is both energy-dense and unnecessary.
Worse, drinking too much alcohol can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Live Limitless says that “alcohol interferes with vitamin and mineral absorption and can even lead to nutrient deficiencies.”
According to Women’s Health Magazine, “alcohol also breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat. ‘For some reason, this process is most pronounced in the thighs and glutes,’ says Piattoly. ‘Excessive alcohol consumption really chews up muscle in those areas.’ It also increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which further encourages fat storage, particularly in your midsection.”
Women’s Health also says that “alcohol irritates the stomach lining, which can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients. […]not to mention that alcohol makes you pee. For every gram of ethanol you suck down, you pump out 10 milliliters of urine (that’s about 9.5 ounces for two beers). As little as 2 percent dehydration hurts endurance performance.”
Long-term, binge drinking habits have even more serious consequences. Cirrhosis of the liver, mood swings, weight gain, oxidative stress and nervous system damage are just a few.
The good news for booze
Hooray! The news isn’t all bad. In fact, moderate drinking can be okay for your health. Some alcoholic drinks can even have health benefits!
The Harvard School of Public Health says that for both men and women, “more than 100 prospective studies show an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. The effect is fairly consistent, corresponding to a 25 percent to 40 percent reduction in risk.”
When it comes to these cardiovascular benefits, red wine is usually the recommended choice, which you’ve probably heard before. Resveratrol, found in red wine, helps prevent damage to blood vessels, prevent blood clots and even lower bad cholesterol levels.
Red wine specifically has some other benefits, too. For one thing, it can slow down the growth of fat cells and boost the metabolism of fats in the liver, thanks to a chemical called ellagic acid. This can help with weight loss.
People who drink wine regularly also seem to get fewer colds, although drinking during a cold may not be wise. Memory function and sexual health can also benefit from moderate wine drinking.
It’s not just wine, though. Beer can have benefits, too. For one thing, beer has a lot of B vitamins and some darker beers are high in iron as well.
Beer also has a lot of silicon in it, which is good for bone strength. Interestingly, this effect seems to have a bigger impact for women, according to research.
Women who drink beer are in for some more great news! Turns out, beer can alleviate menopause symptoms and also reduce the risk of heart attack for women. It’s important to know though that heart attack risk goes up for heavy drinkers; it’s only moderate beer drinkers who benefit in this way.
Both men and women benefit from beer drinking when it comes to preventing kidney stones. Similarly, diabetes risk goes down for moderate beer drinkers of both sexes but — as with heart health — the risk goes up if you drink heavily, so it’s best to stick to just a couple of beers a week.
Even hard liquor has its place in a healthy lifestyle, it turns out. Vodka is heart-healthy and tequila can help you lose weight. Bourbon can ease the ache of sore muscles, while whiskey’s reputation as a sore throat soother is supported by research. Mix it with some warm water and raw honey and head straight to bed.
Tips for healthier drinking
If you do decide to drink, there are better ways to do it.
When you’re drinking, make sure you eat and drink water while you’re doing it.
According to Medical Daily, “One way to do this is drinking water in-between alcoholic drinks. It will help you gauge how much you’ve had, how drunk you are, and whether or not you should stop. To an extent, drinking water after a night out can also prevent a hangover. Eating food before you start drinking — especially something with starch or dairy — can coat the stomach in preparation for the alcoholic attack it’s about to endure and prevent symptoms like nausea, upset stomach, and headaches, according to Forbes. On top of that, the food will soak up some of the alcohol, mediating the body’s process of absorbing alcohol.”
Also, when deciding what to drink, there are some options that are better than others. We’ve got a bonus guide that will help you make the best choice of beverage. Share this post below to get it free.
Support your liver
Since your liver is what takes the biggest beating when you drink alcohol, it’s important to treat your liver right both before and after drinking.
There are plenty of foods you can eat to boost your liver health. For starters, eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens) is great for you. Limiting your sugar intake is another important step.
Certain herbs are also beneficial for liver health. Milk thistle is among the most effective and popular natural remedies for promoting good liver health.
According to Liver Support, milk thistle seeds “contain a bioflavonoid complex known as silymarin. Silymarin, which is the active ingredient in milk thistle, is simply the purified extract of the fruits (seeds) of the milk thistle plant. […] Double-blind studies on the effect of milk thistle on toxic liver damage (mostly alcohol-related), chronic liver disease and disease caused by certain drugs have been reviewed by medical experts. The experts all concluded that milk thistle is an extremely therapeutically useful medicinal plant product that stabilizes the cell membrane and stimulates protein synthesis while accelerating the process of regeneration in damaged liver tissue.”
Our Milk Thistle Oil is pressed from organic, non-GMO milk thistle seeds, ensuring the best quality milk thistle oil. We also refrain from using heat during our pressing process in order to extract every drop of oil out of each seed without causing any damage to the fatty acid chains or any other nutritional compounds found inside.
How do you have alcohol with a healthy lifestyle? Let us know in the comments!
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