Fit & Fab: Can you drink alcohol and still be healthy?
This is a question I have been researching for years. I finally believe I have some answers for those of you looking for advice, or maybe an excuse, to drink alcohol once in a while (responsibly, of course).
Without getting into the details of the many studies (go to google scholar to check for yourself), the overall consensus is this: Regular consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol lowers the incidence of coronary heart disease and raises the level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (that’s the good cholesterol). WHAT?! So I can drink alcohol in moderate amounts and actually improve my health? Uh, yeah, it’s true. And besides these, there are other health benefits as well. But there are a few notes that we must go over before you run out and start the party, so let’s break it down.
There are essentially two basic types of alcohol. Non-Distilled beverages include beer, ales, cauim, chichi, cider, kumis, mead, perry, pulque, wine and sake. Distilled beverages are the cocktails, liquors and spirits. According to one of my favorite health gurus, Don Tolman, “Beer is health food in a mug!” I almost freaked out when he said that, and then he went on to explain that he didn’t mean just any old beer. He was speaking of the beer that is properly fermented, and zero chemicals are used in the process-namely properly fermented beers made outside of the U.S.
He says that non-drinkers often abstain in order to improve their health, but they are 70 percent more likely to die prematurely than those people who drink up to (get this) four beers per day! I freaked again. He then stated that properly fermented beers inhibit free-radical scavengers (those little buggers that cause you to get old and sick), and even help to remove poisonous heavy metals like lead, copper, and mercury.
In the case of wine, the sulfite free organic dark red wines from outside the U.S. are optimal. If you can’t find a sulfite free organic that you like, at least purchase the ones made outside of the U.S., as these most likely do not contain fluoride.
The top recent studies on red wine show that drinking moderately (defined by the American Heart Association as one to two glasses daily) promotes longevity, reduces heart attack risk, lowers risk of heart disease, reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes, lowers risk of stroke, cuts risk of cataracts, cuts risk of colon cancer and slows brain decline.
I also need to give a quick shout out to sake. Sake is fermented from rice, so it is completely gluten free. If you get good quality sake, it is naturally sulfite free as well. There are even companies adding beneficial herbs and coconut to their sake. And I’ll tell you what, if sake has anything to do with the longevity and brainpower of the Asian countries, there must be something pretty good in there!
So here comes our first “note of caution”. These results are all based on generally healthy people with a nutrient-dense diet. In other words, if you are eating pizza and drinking four beers every day, these will not be your results. If you are someone who decides to drink moderately, you must have a good whole food base for your nutrients. That means no processed foods, eating as much raw food as possible, eliminating white sugar and flour and taking the right whole food supplements for your body.
I also need to say that if you are fighting an immune challenge, such as a bacteria, virus, parasite issue or fungus/yeast/candida, drinking any alcohol will backfire on you. Your body will turn it directly to sugar, and these bugs will thrive off of it. Let’s also remember that drinking alcoholic beverages adds calories to your day, so if you know you’re going to have a beer or a glass of wine, make sure to work it a bit extra in the gym that day! One other point to make clear is the fact that alcohol will dehydrate your body very quickly. If you choose to drink in moderation, you should be drinking at least one glass of water per each alcoholic drink.
Back to distilled beverages. Whiskey, vodka, gin, etc. have a place in mouth washes, cleaning wounds and some personal care items. They also have a place in creating herbal tinctures because the small amount of distilled alcohol will help to open the cell and drive the herb into the bloodstream. These do not, however, have any place whatsoever consumed as a drink in a healthy body. Based on the loads of research I have done, these beverages can cause detrimental effects to the body if consumed regularly-anywhere from Alzheimer’s to Fibromyalgia, and many in between. Distilled liquors are a no-go in my book.
So there you have it, the basics on drinking alcohol in moderation. If you know you are someone who will have one drink and then beg, borrow or steal to get the next, you are better off not drinking at all, ever. Please make sure you consult your doctor for your own specific case, and listen to your instincts so you know what’s right for you.
So if you’ve paid attention to my notes of caution, and you’ve found the right alcoholic drink for you, enjoy with a clear conscience…CHEERS!
The information provided by Dr. Allen-Bergman in this column, or by any of her businesses, agents or employees, is for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as recommendations for a specific treatment plan, product, course of action or medical treatment/advice. If you would like further information on this or any other articles, visit EducatingWellness.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to Fit & Fab, Star Journal, 24 W. Rives St., Rhinelander, WI 54501. All submissions will be treated in a confidential manner.