People often ask for my take on alcohol, and where (or if) I see it fitting into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. There are many schools of thought on how terrible alcohol consumption is, and others that stress the benefit of having an occasional tipple. I believe, like anything, that one person’s poison can also be another’s medicine – what makes sense for one won’t necessary for another.
There are of course some unavoidable facts about alcohol: it is toxic, can be addictive, impair liver, stomach and colon function, disrupt sleep, negatively affect judgement and perception, and promote bad eating habits. However, sensible alcohol consumption has also been known to dilate blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, improve endothelial function, reduce stress, promote socialising, lower high iron levels (and contribute to some of our best nights out!)
What is comes back to, again, is mindfulness. Why do you want a drink? Why are you continuing to drink? What is the mood behind each sip? No one enjoys being or accompanying an angry or sobbing drunk. Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. These are the times it’s better to exercise, dance, sing, breathe. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate.
Tips before, during, and after drinking: hangover avoidance!
- Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink – you’ll realise it won’t ruin your night but help you to enjoy it for longer!
- Eat good quality high-fat foods while drinking like olives, cheese, nuts. NO sugar, bread or crisps – they will only make you feel awful!
- Drink green tea before or during the night to help the liver out
- Drink two big glasses of water before bed – add a pinch of salt to balance your electrolytes (blood salt/sugar levels)
- If ordering a cocktail at a bar, always check to see what exactly is going in it. Bad cocktails tend to include sugar syrup which is only going to make a hangover worse. The high fructose content is very dehydrating which puts further stress on the liver
- Bone broth before or after drinking is the ultimate nourishment
- Make sure there is at least an hour between your last drink and bed for some form of movement – dance, walk, stretch… safely of course!
- The morning after: MOVE! It may not feel like it, but you will feel better if you exercise!
- Eat well the next day: broth, eggs, protein, berries, bananas, black coffee, freshly pressed vegetable juice, good quality fats – avoid sugar like the plague!
- Supplements that can help: NAC, magnesium
…If you crave alcohol
- You could be deficient in vitamin B, trace minerals (magnesium and zinc) and the amino acid glutamine. In this case removing grains and sugar and having a diet rich in proteins (eggs and meat) and fresh vegetables will really help. Supplementing magnesium and zinc may also help but of course a healthy diet will assist. Bone broth and lactofermented prepared drinks and food are particularly nourishing as they aid digestion and thus help better assimilate much needed nutrients
Red wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic
White wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic
Champagne – ideally organic and/or biodynamic
Vodka – Ciroc and Vu Qo are good gluten-free brands
Rum – 10 Cane Rum is a good gluten-free brand
Gin, Scotch, Whiskey – if possible choose brands that are made from gluten-free grains (can be tricky unfortunately!)
Unpasteurized beer (anyone still home brewing?!)
Freshly squeezed lemon or lime
Mint, basil, ginger
Freshly squeezed juice (not pasteurized or from a bottle)
To blend: berries, avocado, cucumber, lime, lemon, coconut milk
Just like the food you eat, you want to keep your drink of choice natural and simple. Stick with a plain old glass of wine or have a spirit on ice or with only fresh natural mixers. If I had to name one drink to never consume it would have to be any sort of alcohol mixed with an energy drink – please people, gross!