Let’s talk alcohol. Believe me, I like a nice glass of Chianti just as much as the next white girl! But how much is too much before damage begins to occur 🤔
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to get swept away in the holiday festivities. Enjoy yourself this season but yes, sadly there is such a thing as too much wine (say it ain’t soooo!). Here are a few ways to take care of yourself and your liver over the holidays…
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
🥴 Once you start feeling “tipsy”, it’s too much. However, this amount will vary for each individual! So although you may start feeling “tipsy” after 5 beers, this doesn’t mean that you’re NOT doing damage to your body! Our bodies detoxification system can only handle so much: see MAX guidelines below.
The tipsy feeling is generally a good sign that our bodies are no longer able to keep up with its natural detoxification system, and damage has begun to occur. Alcohol also crosses the blood brain barrier meaning it definitely affects your mood, cognitive function and especially that good quality REM sleep! 💤 So when you can’t remember what has happened throughout the night or by the next morning, that isn’t to say you had a “good quality night rest” – it is more likely that you have done damage to your brain.
Buuut are there benefits?
Although alcohol is definitely not considered “essential” for survival, like all things used in moderation, it definitely can have some benefits! However the type of alcohol, processing, quality and amount consumed is essential when referring to benefits. Some examples when drinking in small quantities could be:
- Shockingly, heart health! For a few reasons but essentially it helps increase circulation as well as raising HDL (“good” cholesterol) when taken in small amounts however, large amounts can do the opposite and cause cardiovascular issues.
- Some alcohol is super high antioxidants, probiotics, nutrients, polyphenols and more! A few examples could be high quality red wine, homemade/fermented alcohol or locally made spirits. See aa list of examples below.
- Could help with social issues, energy levels and metabolism. Again, when used appropriately and taken in small amounts, alcohol can help to calm the nervous system and studies have shown that it may help increase metabolism. This helps the body feel less stressed and moree relaxed when socializing in new environments. Likewise, it may help boost confidence and encourage activities like group sports, BBQ, group programs etc.
- Ideally, if you are having less than 1 – 2 glasses per day, and hoping to get some health benefits from it, opt for organic, locally made or high quality RED WINE for optimal benefits. See more tips below!
HOW MUCH IS 1 SERVING?
🍺 1 serving of Beer is considered = 12oz
🍷 1 serving of Wine is considered = 5oz
🥃 1 serving of Spirits is considered = 1.5oz
🙎🏼♂️MEN should not exceed:
- 1 – 2 servings per/sitting,
- no more than 3 – 4 drinks per/day and
- no more than 14 servings per week.
🙍🏼♀️ WOMEN should not exceed:
- 1 – 2 servings per/sitting
- no more than 2 – 3 drinks per/day and
- and no more than 7 servings per week.
👫 Men and women metabolize alcohol bit differently. Women break down alcohol a lot slower; therefore, women aren’t able to withstand as much alcohol as men. Weight can also play a factor as well (no matter then gender as well as medications, food consumed, etc). For instance, 1 glass of wine for a woman can sometimes be comparable to 2 glasses of wine for a man!
PREPARING FOR A NIGHT OUT
🎄 When you are planning on indulging, support your body with optimal preparation and recovery to avoid alcohol damage by following these simple tips:
- SUPPLEMENT: Take extra liver support supplements before and after such as NAC, glutathione, turmeric and/or milk thistle.
- IMMUNITY: Support your immune health by taking Vitamin C and D consistently when consuming alcohol regularly.
- FOODS: Increase your glutathione intake by eating these glutathione-boosting foods: Vitamin C rich foods and Sulfur containing foods.
- HYDRATION: Increase electrolyte intake and hydration before, during and after consuming alcohol to help the body metabolize alcohol better. Simply adding himalayan salt, fresh lemon and/or ginger to your water will help immensley,
- CLEAN BEVERAGES: sugary alcoholic drinks is the #1 reason for unhealthy alcohol consumption! Sometimes it is not actually the alcohol itself, but what is added to it… some healthier alternatives are:
- Naturally fermented beverages: this is ideal!! Think homemade alcohol like hard kombucha, hard ginger beer, hard apple cider, homemade wine/beer, distilled spirits if possible, etc…
- Clean cocktails: SUGAR is the true enemy when it comes to cocktails. Keep it clean, keep it simple. Use natural sugars when flavouring like honey, maple syrup, raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc. and use natural flavours like fresh juices, food grade essential oils, fresh fruit/herbs/veggies/flowers.. get creative! Avoid items in cans and opt for liquor stored in glass containers. See my few notes on the carbonated bevy craze and how it could be affecting your health.
- Locally made distilled-spirits: the craft cocktail craze is REAL these days and I’m loving it! So many great companies and herbs added to ensure optimal quality and taste. Discover your local distillers and get to know their ingredients and processing habits.
- Tequila – made from the agave plant and is considered one of the “healthier” spirits and lower in sugar
- Whiskey – made from a variety of grains and aged in a variety of ways so it is essential to know what you’re looking for when buying- especially if you are gluten-free! Not considered as “healthier” due to its aging/darker colour, higher sugar content and potential allergies.
- Gin – gin is so fun because it is generally made from juniper berries but can be distilled with natural herbs/spices like orange peel, cardamon, cinnamon, etc. to add a fuller flavour and extra benefits! Also considered a healthier, cleaner alternative and low sugar.
- Vodka – generally made from grains or potatoes (again, good to know the ingredients if you are gluten-free) and also considered a healthier, cleaner alternative that is low sugar.
- Rum – generally made from sugar-cane/molasses and aged similar to whiskey meaning it has similar health benefits.
- Red Wine: aside from the red wines that are poorly processed, high in sugar and high sulphites, red wine will generally have the highest overall nutritional value when referring to alcohol. Some benefits are antioxidants, polyphenols, lowers LDL (“bad”cholesterol), may help cardiovascular health and blood sugar levels. Champagne can have small amounts of benefits and White Wine will have less. When you can, opt for organic, locally made, high quality with minimal to no processing/sulphites (hard to find!). Or, choose to aerate/decant your wine first to help remove the sulphites and increase flavour.
- Last and unfortunately least is Beer: yes, beer is probably the only beverage that does the most damage to people when talking about alcohol. Generally, they are cheaply made with poor quality ingredients, highly processed, filled with sugars/additives/preservatives, SUPER high in sugar (even craft beers..), most aren’t actually vegan (did you know that most breweries use fish bladders in their filtering processes?!), they’re generally stored in a can and a lot of them aren’t gluten-free. HOWEVER, there are a lot of craft companies that are creating better quality beer (I’m also making my own medicinal mushroom beer with a homemade wild yeast starter from Pascal Bauders Wildcrafting Brewing book! I’ll share me experience soon..) along with some gluten-free and better processing habits (Vancouver Island Brewery is one brewery that IS Vegan!). But even with good processing habits, beer still contains phytoestrogen and prolactin. These two chemicals can increase the estrogen levels your body produces. If this happens too much, your body will react and decrease testosterone levels. If you’re an avid beer drinker, stick within your limits and opt for the better quality craft beers or try making it home!
- Learn more fun stories about how certain alcohols were made and their historical benefits from: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Heidi MacAulay, R.H.N.
“Eat more plants. Do more yoga. Read more books.”
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