Sometimes when I am invited to dinner by someone who has met me through me being "Dr. Austin" and not just Austin there can be an awkward silence when the waiter asks if anyone would like a drink. Like I will be judging their decision, trust me i will judge you more if you don't swap that baked potato for a veggie much quicker than if you order a drink. But I myself like to enjoy a drink or two on occasion or the weekend to unwind and relax. My wife and I generally stick to wine since we both grew up in wine country, California. Im not going to tell you that drinking is healthy. Even though you can find studies saying there are health benefits from drinking wine due to the antioxidants. Or studies showing that consuming regular alcohol cuts your risk of stroke and heart disease. And most recently a study showing that drinkers have an overall lower risk of morbidity than non drinkers. Or my professional observation that people who enjoy an occasional drink are overall just more fun than non drinkers...JK. But Im not going to tell you that it's "healthy", you can find just as many studies showing the ill effects of drinking alcohol. But i do think drinking in moderation isn't going to kill you, and i base that predominately on the fact that it is "time tested", been around for thousands of years. Some of the same reasons I have formed my opinion on coffee. But there are some major do's and don'ts when it comes to drinking and some overall tips to making your drinking as healthy as possible.
- Avoid sugary mixers. Alcohol naturally metabolizes in your body as sugar, so when you mix it with a mixer that is full of sugar you are just pouring gas on the fire. Sugar should be your worst enemy, sugar causes inflammation, sugar spikes insulin, sugar is the fuel for cancer, I could go on and on. One misconception on mixers is well it's a "juice" so it's healthy. If you are talking about cranberry juice in particular, it's most likely not even real juice. But even if you are getting real juice, juice is loaded with sugar. natural or not, it's still sugar. Go for mixers like sparkling, tonic, or soda water, and add a small dash of lime or cranberry instead.
- Avoiding sugar doesn't mean jump to diet mixers. Mixing alcohol with artificial sweeteners has been proven to allow alcohol to enter your blood stream faster. Which could cause you to get "drunker" faster than you expected. But specifically artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame have been shown to cause cancer and cause long term weightloss intolerance. If you your drink with diet soda try an alternative like Zevia which is a sugar free soda option that is sweetened with a natural sugar alternative called Stevia.
- Even though there are some conflicting studies, red wine does contain polyphenols and antioxidants that can have some added health benefits. I still say when reaching for an alcoholic drink red wine is your best option. Especially now that it is very easy to find organic and sulfite free wines. And there has to be some reason why all those Mediterranean countries are living longer than us right? It's gotta be the wine and siestas!
- When choosing a liquour try to stay with clear liquours like Vodka and Tequilla. Clear liquours have much less impurities than dark liquours like whiskey. The way they are processed is a "cleaner" process. Dark liquours are also higher in sugar.
- When drinking moderation is always key...Duh. You've heard that before. But anytime you binge drink which results in a hangover, it takes you body's attention away from other important tings it may be doing. You body has to deal with the immediate toxicity at hand, but what if your body was focused on healing an old injury at the time, or even worse killing cancer cells...
- There is a cultural stigma around drinking. What I mean is it is culturally acceptable to take prescription drugs for anxiety or depression but looked down upon for having a daily glass of wine or two. In Italy, if you go to a doctor in the second half of the day (after siesta) it is culturally acceptable to smell wine on his breath, I'm serious. But I have some European patients that have told me if you are on "depression meds" it's like you have mental illness and its very rare. It's all on how you look at it, there are potential side effects with both. But personally I would take my chance with a glass of wine when stressed out rather than popping a pill.
This blog was again not to promote drinking or the consumption of alcohol, but merely to point out the fact that a lot of Adults do participate in drinking, so we want you to make the best out of it!
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