Do you love a glass of wine on days that ends in “y”? Do you think vacation is synonymous with a blended drink and pineapple garnish? Can’t imagine Taco Tuesday without a frosty margarita? Same girl, same. But although you love alcohol in all its delicious forms, alcohol does not love you back. Talk about an unhealthy relationship. This is especially true for those of us lucky enough to be diagnosed with autoimmune disease. So, here’s the scoop.
If I could describe alcohol and its effects on the body with one word it would be INFLAMMATION. And if you’ve taken a read through any of my previous posts, you know that inflammation is the common denominator behind countless health conditions. When your body metabolizes alcohol, it can disrupt tissue homeostasis and the gut microbiome. This can cause a chronic state of inflammation in the intestines. And as we know, prolonged periods of inflammation can lead to all sorts of health problems impacting everything from your brain to your mood and your hair, skin and nails.
Also, alcohol takes its toll on our livers. Rather than allowing your liver to process and detoxify all the usual pollutants making their way through your body, it has to stop what it’s doing and turn its attention to processing alcohol. This puts a major wrinkle in your body’s natural detoxification process and can lead to liver disease overtime. No Bueno.
And this why you should never have another sip of alcohol as long as you live….
And the purpose of this article is not to tell you that you need to cut alcohol out of your life completely. After all, I still partake in alcoholic beverages. However, if you are having any sort of prolonged health complications, or are tired of not feeling your best, you should consider cutting it out for a period until you get to the root of your issues. I also think it’s important to stress that not all alcohols are created equal. If you are going to drink, some choices are definitely better than others.
Let’s dive in!
Clear liquors like vodka and tequila tend to be lower in sugar, decreasing the chances of a blood sugar spike and making them easier for our bodies to metabolize. Tequila comes from agave, a plant high in inulin, a naturally occurring dietary fiber. Further, tequila and vodka are both naturally gluten free making them a safe choice for those following a gluten free diet.
Whiskey, Bourbon and other dark liquors:
Darker liquors tend to have higher sugar and calorie content which can add to the hangover and inflammatory effects. Many of these liquors also contain higher amounts of congeners, impurities that form during the fermentation process. These add to the flavor of the alcohol, but the extra chemicals and toxins may leave you feeling worse the next day. And they are certainly harder on your system to process!
Beer, Seltzers, Ciders, oh my:
One benefit of these options is that they have a lower alcohol content than the hard alcohols discussed above. However, if you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or suspect you have a gluten/wheat allergy, beer is off the table (unless it is specifically labelled as gluten free!). While most seltzers are gluten free, some are malt based – a warning to the Celiacs among us (myself included)! I personally love cider but these can be very high in sugar, which, when combined with alcohol, can be especially hard on the digestive system. Further, all of these options are carbonated. Based on my own personal experience, carbonation often makes my acid reflux worse, and I know it can be problematic to those suffering from GERD.
There is a lot of research that supports the health benefits of a daily glass of wine, particularly red wine. And I am not here to argue with science! When it comes to wine (red, white, rose, sparkling) I would simply advise you to proceed with caution. Wine is very high in histamine which can lead to unpleasant side effects such as a stuffy nose, flush skin or general stomach irritation (I plan to write a big article on histamine intolerance in the future so stay tuned for that!).
Red wine is also a very common migraine trigger for those prone to migraines. If you can have a glass of wine and feel ok, by all means, carry on! I would just encourage you to really listen to your body and consider cutting it out for a while if you are experiencing any unpleasant side effects. Further, all wines are not created equal. I personally have not tried Dry Farms Wines but am eager to give them a try! These are certified organic, low sugar and lower alcohol wines that are getting a lot of positive attention. If you’ve given these a try, please comment your experience below! I myself, and I’m sure others, are interested in hearing an honest review!
A note on mixers:
Less is more! If juice and soda are not good for your health on their own, they definitely are not any better when combined with alcohol. Stick to club soda and a lemon or lime garnish when pouring a cocktail. Trust me, your hangover will thank you.
I REALLY hate playing the bad cop. And it is absolutely possible to lead a healthy life and partake in alcoholic beverages. However, if you want to get serious about your health, are suffering from gut related health problems, are struggling to lose weight, or are simply pursuing a healthier lifestyle, consider taking a break from alcohol. Don’t worry, it will still be there when you’re ready to reintroduce it!