Myth: Alcohol can’t be a part of a healthy lifestyle
Following on from last week’s #mythbustermonday talking all things restriction, over indulgence and moderation I thought I should dive a little deeper into one particular, possibly more controversial items that is usually labelled unhealthy and one of the first things restricted.
FACT: Alcohol isn’t the problem, it is how much we drink
Ok that is not entirely true. Alcohol is classed as a toxin and when broken down by the body can cause an array of side effects.
The first I want to highlight though is a positive, and the reason so many people do still reach for the bottle. Alcohol can relax you, alcohol is a sedative and depressant and acutely increases dopamine, GABA and serotonin. The hormones and neurotransmitters that positively influence your mood.
So when drunk in moderation alcohol can be great to relax you. I know for myself a drink or two every now and then helps me to unwind – I am a massive over thinker and struggle to switch my brain off when it’s time to relax.
The bigger issues come about when alcohol is frequently drunk in excess/ binged. Have you ever woken up after a big night out with a pounding head, dehydrated and even a little anxious? Well this is to do with how alcohol is metabolised by our body.
Alcohol like other drugs and toxins is broken down by the liver. It uses two main enzymes, ADH and ALDH. However, it has been found that these enzymes can be in slightly different forms and work at different paces in different people. That is why you might not have the same tolerance as your friend that is the same height and weight as you!
These enzymes are also the reason you wake up feeling incredibly dehydrated even through you desperately need to pee. Alcohol is a diuretic. So, the more you need to pee, the more the alcohol is dehydrating you.
Some of the more serious impacts of excess drinking are increased risk over time of developing alcoholism, liver disease, alcoholic pancreatic and cancer.
I am not going to tell you not to drink. That would be highly hypocritical of me. However, do so in a safe way. Always make sure to drink plenty of water during and especially afterwards and take a night off sometimes.
Similar to the questions I ask around food last week. I want you to think about why you drink?
Why do you find yourself reaching for the bottle every night? Every weekend? Why do you find yourself drinking in excess all the time?
It doesn’t make you unhealthy or a ‘bad’ person if you drink.
However, the level and frequency you drink can have negative impacts on your health.
If you are someone that suffers from anxiety, I would discourage against drinking in excess as it can prolong and amplify your feelings of anxiety.
OR If you are using alcohol as a crutch in social situations or to avoid your ‘problems’ all together I urge you to get help to cut back a little. Because alcohol isn’t going to make these problems disappear. When you wake up they will still be there.
Just as it is when it comes to our diet, drinking in moderation can be great when celebrating with friends, unwinding on holiday or after a big week at work. But regularly check in with yourself about why you are drinking!
Drink wisely and stay safe!