We all have those friends who never drink alcohol because they simply don’t enjoy the taste! I hate all of those people! (sorry to those friends of mine!) Okay, that’s a little harsh, but seriously, how is that even possible and why can’t that be me! lol There is nothing better than the taste of a really good tequila, bourbon or IPA beer! UGH! As I’m getting older though I’m feeling the negative effects of alcohol more than I did even five or so years ago and it’s honestly to the point where it’s not worth it. If I have even three drinks in a night the next day would feel like I pulled an all nighter that included mixing different alcohols, several rounds of shots and dancing on the bar! Like that’s just not right!

Because I’m an exercise fanatic and a healthy eater I know how good you can naturally feel when you live a healthy lifestyle. It’s crazy to me how literally just one drink affects your sleep, recovery, performance and mood. Although actually not surprising when you realize alcohol is a poison! It is a toxic, dependence-producing substance that is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen! This is the highest risk group, it’s lumped in with asbestos, tobacco and radiation! WTH?!?! Like take a moment and process that… Alcohol is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen. But it’s totally socially acceptable, not only acceptable, it’s encouraged in a lot of social settings. In fact, often times people are shamed into drinking simply to fit in with the crowd. I think however, we are starting to finally see a shift in this mentality, especially thanks to recent health findings.

For decades we were told by the experts (we all know where listening to the experts gets us…) that having a glass or two of wine a day and drinking alcohol in moderation was good for our health. More specifically they boasted about the heart health benefits. There is now more and more data coming out proving this to be false. Sorry to be a buzz kill, but there’s nothing healthy about alcohol.

In the Today Explained podcast, Dr. Tim Naimi with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, explains how new studies have found that drinking even small amounts can still be harmful to your health. (forget about beneficial like once believed) He discusses how alcohol changes and negatively affects our DNA leading to an increased risk in all major forms of heart disease, at least 7 types of cancers, as well as a variety of stomach, intestinal, kidney and liver problems. The more you drink, the higher the disease risk.

Now let’s say you’re an athlete, but you’re also a drinker. Good luck. Alcohol is so bad for athletic recovery! After a tough workout your body needs to refuel, rehydrate and rebuild muscle. Alcohol does just the opposite. It promotes dehydration which can hinder recovery. It slows down the repair process of exercise-induced muscle damage as well as disrupts certain signaling pathways that tell the body to build muscle. Add to those the fact that you don’t get that good REM sleep your body needs to feel restored which leads to a weakened immune system. It’s honestly a total sh$t show!

In another great podcast I recently listened to, Huberman Lab, Andrew Huberman Ph.D. discusses the physiological effects that drinking alcohol has on the brain and body. He covers everything from how it impacts inflammation in the body to the negative effects on hormone balance. He explains how this poison produces substantial stress and damage to cells because it is water and fat soluble so it’s able to pass through to all the cells and tissues in the body. (and it unfortunately isn’t doing anything positive!)

Huberman explains how people who drink chronically experience changes in the brain-to-body stress system. Chronically may be a drink or two a night or a few on the weekend, basically on a regular basis, even be it a moderate amount! When they consume alcohol there is an increase in cortisol release from their adrenal glands that actually makes them feel more stressed and more anxious when they’re not drinking! Well that goes against the very reason so many people say they need a drink in the first place…to calm down, relax, unwind, destress, not feel more stressed! It’s honestly mind blowing that it’s accomplishing the opposite and causing a vicious circle of anxiety!

Poison to the body and brain, yet alcohol is the most widely consumed recreational substances?! Thankfully in the past few years podcasts like Huberman’s and articles published by varies news outlets such as the ones written by Fox News and The New York Times are bringing some awareness to this newer research and the deadly effects of drinking alcohol. We’re also seeing less of a stigma attached to sobriety and with the help of new non-alcoholic brewing/beverage companies popping up, you can still enjoy the taste of alcohol without all the negative side effects!

My favorite non-alcoholic beer is Athletic Brewing Company. (umm actually the only one I like!) I first heard of the company at a Spartan Race in Nashville. Usually after a hard race or endurance event a beer goes down so easy and is so satisfying! Most of the race venues actually give you a free beer at the finish too. Why not drink it? You earned it and it’s free?! 😐 Well at this race I just said no and opted for the non-alcoholic option! It was their Athletic Lite one which ironically is now one of my favorites at only 25 calories and 5 carbs packed with a clean, delicious taste! Since I LOVE IPA beer, my other go-tos are their Run Wild IPA & Free Wave Hazy IPA. They are seriously SO delish! Another alcoholic drink alternative I discovered is Curious Elixirs. These booze-free craft cocktails are infused with adaptogens to help you unwind. Adaptogens are herbs that have been used for many years that have been shown to reduce cortisol levels while boosting your mood without all the detrimental effects of alcohol. It’s a win win! They have several different cocktails to choose from and it seems like they’re always adding new ones. Their No. 4 Blood Orange Spritz with basil and turmeric and No. 7 Champagne Cocktail with elderflower and lavender are both refreshing and delicious!

Knowing now that there is absolutely zero data that a small amount of alcohol is good for you, rather the opposite is true. Is it really worth it? A few hours of a buzz equals more stress, depression, brain fog, irritability, poor sleep, binge eating, etc. Whereas, alcohol free equals feeling amazing, better sleep, improved memory, better skin, less stressed and far better athletic performance! That’s not even mentioning all the serious diseases and health risks that are associated with drinking that you’d be avoiding.

So what will you choose? I’m not saying you should stop drinking altogether. I haven’t even quit completely, although I’m drinking a fraction of what I used to consume. When you really weigh all the pros and cons, the decision is abundantly clear if you care about your health and well being! I think it’s only a matter of time before I say to myself, “NO ALCOHOL FOR YOU”!Β  #justsayno #healthylifestyle


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