WHY I DRINK ALCOHOL?
Last night I was walking passed a cafe with outdoor seating and I noticed a guy drinking what looked like a nice cold beer. I walk passed this cafe every night and I rarely notice this sort of thing. Not because it isn’t happening, it just never caught my eye. I have learned in recent years that sometimes when things catch your eye it is for a reason. And on this night the reason was that I needed a nice cold beer. I didn’t ask why, I just proceeded to the local health food store (which I knew carried high quality beers) and I grabbed a bottle. Not a 6 pack. A bottle. Guess what, it was my lucky night as the beer was on sale. This is how things happen when you are in the the wave state. It doesn’t have to be some big life changing occurrence, just simple things like that. The fact that I am making a big deal of sorts about drinking a beer might sound odd to most of you, but I am not much of a drinker. I drink occasionally, in the right setting, but when I do, I make sure that I enjoy that drink, every sip. As I was drinking this brew I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just enjoying a nice cold beer and then all of a sudden, this damn article idea popped in my head and I so I spent a few minutes writing it. Maybe me wanting a beer was so that I would write this article and help people understand a few things about alcohol intake and how it relates to the mind and bod
Below are some common questions related to alcohol consumption. Some are questions I ask clients, others are questions that clients ask me, others are just things that you may want to think about that I framed into a question. This is quite a comprehensive article and I probably could have made this a multi-part email marketing campaign, but I don't roll like that. Don’t worry, I will give some hangover prevention tips at the very end.
What should I drink?
Well for the most part whatever you enjoy, but with a few caveats. As with food, quality is king and so you would do best to select high quality beverages. So in the instance of my beer above, I grabbed a small batch brew made from high quality grains. Small batch vodka, tequila, higher quality whiskey’s are all nice options. I might watch out for drinks that are derived from corn (i..e bourbon) since the corn supply in the US is quite suspect. I tend to think that gluten free beverages are superior and if you avoid beer that is not so difficult. If you want to have an occasional cold beer then no biggie, but if you term yourself a beer drinker then know the following. Beers that tend to be “hoppier” (the ones everyone seems to like thee days) can boost estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen is not just a female hormone and it is not really a good hormone in excess (or possibly at all). Increased estrogen is a problem for men and women due to various estrogenic substances in our environment and food supply. Excess estrogen can lead to fat storage in all the wrong places. I mean what do you think a beer belly is. A combination of excess estrogen coupled with an inflamed gut (more info to follow).
What about alcohol and gut health?
Alcohol can often irritate the lining of your gut. Depending on your individual gut health and microbiome, this may or may not be a problem which translates into ongoing health problems. If someone is dealing with health issues (especially those that center around the gut ) I always recommend avoiding alcohol for a period of time and maybe permanently. It is also beneficial to incorporate gut healing foods regularly. Namely bone broth, collagen powder, probiotics and small amounts of grass-fed heavy cream (if tolerated).
What about my liver?
Alcohol is not good for your liver, no surprise here. I might argue the liver is the most important organ in the body and unfortunately it is forced to work pretty hard in this day and age. The liver does too many things to discuss here, but it plays a major role in detoxifying the body. Alcohol is a toxin and so when you consume it you make your liver work a little or a lot harder. We live in a toxic world so the liver is already working on overdrive, add a little alcohol and you may or may not push the body overboard. Lastly, The liver also plays a role in your metabolism/thyroid. So if you liver is stressed, your metabolism will suffer. Yup!
Does alcohol have an impact on my hormones?
Yes, alcohol can impact numerous hormones in the body in a negative way. Estrogen (per above), insulin (blood sugar), thyroid hormone (per the correlation with the liver above), testosterone (numerous factors) and other hormones which would take too long to discuss here.
Do you enjoy your drink?
When you take a sip of your drink do you enjoy it or do you just chug it mindlessly without thinking about it. I can tell you that I still remember many of the drinks I have had over the years, because I really savored the experience. One in particular was at a restaurant in upstate NY - a maple infused old fashioned made with local maple syrup. And that is what I am talking about with quality right there. It took the bartender 10 minutes to make, but I could feel the love she put into it. I might have had more than one.
I can’t handle drinking like I used to?
This is quite common and chalked up to old age but it probably means your liver is in need of a break. The body (and especially the liver) are quite resilient and can handle a real beating, but eventually you will start getting "check engine" lights of sorts. If you don’t pay attention to these signals you might break down (get a disease). In this case you might need a break from drinking and a liver tune-up. Most of my clients go through a period of specific liver support. I don’t always tell them this is what I am doing but that is my goal. A happy liver is critical for overall health.
Is it beneficial to take a dry period a few times a year?
Yes. Very much so. Usually during the change of seasons and post-holiday are good times. Also, if you are getting check engine lights.
Why do you drink?
Duh, its fun. I love socializing while drinking. It is part of life. All of my friends drink and so it is hard not to. My job requires me to entertain. I feel better when I drink. I drink because life is tough and it takes the edge off. Those are some common answers. The real questions to ask yourself are: Do I feel better or worse when I drink? Am I drinking to avoid something? The first might be easier to answer, the second might require a bit more work.
What’s wrong with a little alcohol?
Nothing in theory, but if you use that as an excuse to get hammered multiple nights a week and it is impacting your health then you might want to reconsider. One of my greatest health tips - Listen to your body, it will give you all sorts of great information.
Should you avoid alcohol 100% of the time?
Maybe. Depends on your state of health, your level of stress and your reason for drinking.
Can I drink and be in THE WAVE STATE?
Absolutely. In a way, THE WAVE STATE is about getting in touch with who you really are and finding what works for you.
Am I a bad person for drinking? Is there something wrong with me for not drinking?
No and No. You are not a good or bad person for drinking. You are just a person. Just be aware of the story you tell yourself around drinking. More on this to follow.
Life is really stressful and drinking makes me feel better?
A drink here and there won’t hurt you but are you taking down a bottle of wine every night or pouring something brown when you walk in the door. Are you drinking to get through life. Then you are missing something and your entire life might need re-working. You are certainly not in the wave state.
What do you think about people who don’t drink?
Most people on this email chain are probably nice enough not to give a friend a hard time about not drinking, but what do you think about them not drinking. Think about it, there is a probably a strong story in your head around it. I will let you think about the story, but often it views the drinker in the “positive” and the non-drinker in the “negative”. Do you drink to feel better about yourself? We do this with all sorts of things, not just drinking. The point is to become aware of why you drink and this exercise might help.
What if I am addicted to drinking?
Obviously you should get help, if you are ready. If you are asking this question you might be ready. I can’t directly relate to alcohol addiction, but I can relate to other forms of addiction and the ultimate driver is usually some unmet need in your being. It could be very deep in your being. (My "Pebble in your Shoe" article might be a good one to read). As with any addiction, chances are you won’t be able to stop until you bottom out and surrender to the fact that you are addicted. When you get there it will be easier.
Do genetics play a role in my ability to tolerate alcohol?
Absolutely. If you have always been a lightweight when it comes to alcohol or you notice some immediate response when you drink, chances are that alcohol is not right for your physiology.
What about wine? Isn’t it better for me?
Probably not. The problems with wine are mostly that people get really into it, start calling themselves winos (often coupled with a foodie) and they drink way too much of it. This can lead to poor sleep, sinus issues, blood sugar issues and gut issues. Do you ever drink wine and get sinus congestion, it is because wine (and many other foods) contain histamines (you take an anti-hitamine during allergy season right). Not all wines are like this, so monitor your response and drink higher quality wines. Home made wines are great. Have you been to Italy and drank a bottle of home made wine and had no headache or hangover. You see how it works.
Seasonal allergies and alcohol consumption?
Per above, it is often best to avoid or limit alcohol if you suffer from seasonal allergies. In part because of the histamine comment above and additionally, alcohol irritates the gut, the gut basically IS the immune system and so if you tweak your immune system with alcohol your allergies will probably be worse.
I am not addicted but I just can’t imagine a life without drinking?
Okay cool then enjoy yourself and refer to this article occasionally to see if any part reads a little differently.
Is there anything I can do to prevent a hangover?
Yes, stop drinking. Or think about incorporating some of the tips below. Note these are not all my tips. I have to reserve those for clients.
Eat a balanced meal before drinking. Don’t drink on empty stomach. You got drunk faster in college doing this, I know, but you were more resilient then.
Eat or drink something high in fructose when you get home. Apple, Apple sauce, grapes, watermelon, watermelon juice are good examples. But really any fruit can be helpful. Fructose can help the liver detoxify alcohol more efficiently. If you like research you can probably find a good study on this.
Hydrate. Obviously drinking dehydrates you and that is part of the hangover. Slam a bottle of water in between drinks. Coconut water even better, or maybe make a cocktail with coconut water.
Eat foods that support your liver on a regular basis - Beets, artichokes, bone broth, dandelion, liver, collagen powder, egg yolks are some good ones. If your liver is functioning better it will work better which results in less of a hangover.
Alcohol can deplete many nutrients, especially the following (B-Vitamins, Vitamin C and Magnesium) so it can be beneficial to supplement with those before and after drinking. Or possibly longer term depending on your situation.
Give yourself an IV drip with vitamins and minerals. This is not doable in every state but in places like California you can go to the juice shop and get a hangover infusion via IV. There are definite benefits to this in my mind, but don’t make it a reason to drink. Also, I have worked with a few people professional trained to give IVs and so they have the added benefit of being able to give themselves an IV, not bad, ay.
Enjoy each sip of you drink. You will probably drink less.
Don’t BS yourself about some of the deeper questions above (although you probably will). You may even decide to dial back the drinking.