Let’s face it. One of the greatest things about Google is that you can get the answer you want if you search hard enough. And, there is growing support that many individuals can seek online guidance to also find or hear others supporting their actions and/or decisions.
Sadly, this is very much the case for nutrition and health.
I decided to write this blog after having a very disturbing discussion with a patient about going gluten-free and how liberated she felt in eating everything and anything gluten-free – and out of the blue upping her alcohol intake.
Remember the old saying, “If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t…”
I am dedicating this blog to educating everyone on some lesser known facts about alcohol, not only from the perspective as a holistic practitioner, but a well-educated and experienced sommelier who knows what they are talking about. I advise and continue to work with the global wine industry as it evolves, grows, and continues to strive towards better environmental practices and higher standards in its products.
Alcohol plays a role in life-like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As a society, we try to find ways to make it fit in as a healthy part of our life-style, as a necessary evil, etc. There are thousands of studies in and not in favour of its use – from increasing lifespan to shortening it, but there really is no gold standard to speak of. Furthermore, if you believe, as we do at The Second Act, we are bio-individual; you cannot even take studies to heart where it concerns your own well-being.
So then what?
Know thy self. Know your family history. Educate yourself.
Should everyone have a glass of wine with dinner, 7 nights a week? Of course you know the answer is no. Can some people do this successfully and be healthy? Yes.
Do drinkers live healthier and happier lives than non-drinkers? Some do; some do not.
What exactly then should a person do?
Alcohol has been used for centuries as a tonic and a poison like many other things we ingest.
Here are some nuggets of information you may not know:
On the negative side:
• Alcohol slows metabolism – quicker in women than men;
• Alcohol aids in weight gain as it is consumed as pure carbohydrate that the body will utilize first during digestion, and, therefore stores more of your food as fat. Spirit alcohols are by far the worst;
• Alcohol furthers depression and is responsible for a large portion of suicides;
• Excessive alcohol can lower the level of testosterone in men leading to impotence;
• Alcohol use during and leading up to perimenopause can bring about menopause earlier and exacerbate the symptoms with it.
On the positive side with a bias towards wine:
• A small daily portion, primarily found in wine (150 ml) has been shown to help control hypertension, increase the HDL, prevent inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and prevent blood from clotting in the arteries. All these factors protect the body against heart disease;
• French scientist Dr. Serge Renaud who is in part responsible for the French Paradox studies states that wine is a more diluted form of alcohol, which is important to the body and, if taken moderately at mealtime, it is easily absorbed;
• Alcohol, specifically wine has been used for hundreds of years to aid gastric digestion;
• Alcohol in moderation with meals, again, specifically wine has been reported to help with longevity when combined with a Mediterranean-style diet and more relaxed social meal times;
• Drinking organic wine drinking lowers sulphite and pesticide intake – associated with the “hangover” feeling after a night of celebrating. Organic wine in moderation has increased health benefits due to its viticulture methods and organic raw product.
Alcohol, like everything else is one proponent of your social being. Moderation is the key to living a well-rounded existence. Living well, eating well, and making smarter choices are all part of the health equation.
If you are sick or depressed, have a life-threatening condition, allergy, a highly stressful job, or the like – you know that alcohol consumption is not for you. The trade-off will have grave consequences that are so not worth it in the oh-so short-term. Food is medicine and, therefore, what we can consume can also be considered poison.
Here is a pertinent example to consider. Ask yourself, if you have a digestive condition like celiac disease, do you really think drinking because it is gluten-free is going to help you heal? Your goal is to be asymptomatic or cured, not part of a movement, which people tend to gravitate to these day through social media. I have met several people who are cured of severe gluten-intolerance and believe you me, alcohol was one of the first things to omit while they healed their digestive systems.
Enjoy life. Enjoy eating better. Indulge, for those of you who truly can – occasionally in alcohol – and drink better quality wine, a quality spirit, organic beer, etc. Choose well. Savour what you drink because it is amazing – not like it is a glass of tap water or a way to escape a bad work day.
The public at large is much better educated about making choices for a better life. Not a restricted life. So take this knowledge and enjoy what life has to offer. Always think quality over quantity!
Over-indulging whether in food and/or alcohol is just simply wrong. But, you knew that didn’t you?
Image Courtesy of Life Magazine Archives