Those who drink alcohol do it for different reasons. Maybe it’s to celebrate or relax, to forget our problems or “take the edge off” our anxiety. Maybe it’s a comforting habit that marks the end of a busy day, or just an occasional treat. Maybe it’s a heavy addiction. Whatever your reason for drinking alcohol, it’s worth considering how healthy and beneficial it is to your mind, body, budget, and family dynamic.
Here, we discuss how and when to drink alcohol in the healthiest way possible, as well as the benefits that may be involved in giving up regular or heavy drinking.
Is Alcohol Always Unhealthy?
No. Certain drinks, enjoyed in moderation, offer a few health benefits. For example, red wine may be a good antioxidant, regulate lipids, and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Beer might strengthen bones, reduce cholesterol, and be good for kidney stones. Vodka tends to be easier to digest for those with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis and is a more effective stress reliever than wine. Whisky might lower your risk of heart disease, and tequila may help to fight dementia.
In addition, research shows that people and cultures that habitually include some booze in their daily routines do tend to live longer. This can be for a variety of reasons. Many of these communities and cultures are also in places with clean air, make a habit of eating a balanced diet, and tend to be slower-paced and more social.
But, whether or not alcohol could be good or not harmful to you depends on your existing health conditions, weight, stress levels, genetic susceptibility to disease, addiction history, and whether or not you’re prone to anxiety or depression.
Benefits When You Reduce or Quit Alcohol
Considering how you’ll benefit might be a huge motivation to reduce or quit your drinking. You could:
- Have healthier organs (including your heart, brain, and liver).
- Sleep better and for longer.
- Lose weight.
- Enjoy better digestion.
- Feel a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
- Drive safer and avoid accidents.
- Slow down the signs of aging.
- Not have to deal with embarrassing texts, conversations, or incidents the morning after.
- Avoid nasty hangovers.
- Enjoy better health in the long term, thanks to a healthier blood pressure, blood sugar, inflammatory level, and so on.
- Have better relationships, as having less or no alcohol can help you to focus on building relationships and not hurting those around you (in the case of those that have developed problematic drinking).
- Improved self-esteem.
- Lower chance of developing various kinds of cancer.
- Better sex life as booze tends to lower sex drive and lead to various degrees of impotence in men and vaginal dryness in women in the long term.
- Improve your immunity.
- Have clearer thinking and improved ability to retain information.
The Safest Ways to Drink Alcohol
If the booze-free life isn’t for you right now, there are still some steps you can take to be the safest and most responsible drinker possible.
How you drink is more important than what you drink. So, enjoying 1 or 2 drinks every night of the week is a lot less damaging than having a binge of 7 drinks on a Saturday. It might also be a good idea to keep less alcohol on hand at home so that there’s less temptation to over-indulge.
It’s crucial to stay hydrated when enjoying a glass of wine, exotic cocktail, or refreshing beer. So, always have a glass of water nearby when indulging in an alcoholic drink. Be sure to sip your water regularly so you don’t start chugging the booze out of thirst. If you have a favourite water bottle that motivates you to sip-sip-sip, take it along.
Remember to finish the day or evening with some REVIVE electrolytes to build up your body’s stash and prevent a hangover.
Always have something nutritious to eat before drinking; preferably something high in protein and good fats.
Stick to as few drinks as possible. Generally, a “standard” drink means:
- 350ml beer
- 150ml wine
- 1 shot of spirits (including gin, whisky, brandy, rum, and vodka)
As a point of reference, the standard coffee cup or a full wine glass is about 250ml. Usually, restaurants or pubs will pour about 150ml of wine per serving.
It’s not an easy habit to ditch, especially when having a drink with friends or at the end of a long day is a highlight…or a lifeline. But, reducing or quitting alcohol has so many health benefits and will, ultimately, lead to a better quality of life – now and in the long term.
Reach out to local organisations to help you to quit, if necessary, and tell your friends and family of your decision so that they can support you.
As part of an overall detox and support for your body, include the following in your daily routine: