Is It Okay To Drink Alcohol In Moderation?
Many people have a love/hate relationship with alcohol. It’s one of those unique beverages that can be fun (and delicious) to consume, yet also comes with some downsides if you’re not careful.
If you’re someone who wants to keep alcohol as part of your lifestyle but also wants to support your health, this article will help guide you to do just that.
Is Alcohol Always Bad For You?
The research regarding the potential negative health effects of alcohol is strong. Alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients, weaken your immune system, interfere with normal gut function, interrupt good sleep, lead to weight gain, and contribute to many chronic diseases, just to name a few things.
However, you can also fully recognize that alcohol is fun and festive and can be part of social gatherings that you may look forward to. It may simply be something that helps you unwind and relax after a long day.
The good news is that alcohol can be safely consumed in moderation and it doesn’t have to interfere with your health when consumed responsibly and appropriately. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines moderate drinking as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men. One drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5oz of hard liquor like rum, vodka, and tequila.
However, drinking alcohol every day, even if it’s a moderate amount, can still lead to health issues, including unwanted weight gain. For overall health and weight management, we strongly recommend to our clients to limit alcohol to about 2 or fewer alcoholic drinks each week.
Best And Worst Alcoholic Drinks
Consider these tips when you want to enjoy a drink without interfering with your health too much.
Best Alcohol Drinks For Health:
- Red wine, which is low in calories and provides an excellent source of antioxidants
- Hard liquor on the rocks (ie: one shot of something like whiskey or vodka directly over ice)
- Light beer, which has fewer calories and carbohydrates than regular beer
- Hard liquor mixed with sparkling water
- Wine spritzer (part wine and part sparkling water)
- Mulled wine, which is warm red wine mixed with herbs and spices for extra health benefits
- Hard kombucha. This is a form of fermented tea that has a higher alcohol content compared to regular kombucha. Kombucha has the health benefit of being a source of natural probiotics.
In addition, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festivity of a fun alcoholic drink without actually consuming any alcohol. We’ve got plenty of delicious (and nutritious!) alcohol-free “mocktails” on our website, such as:
On the flip side, there are some alcoholic drinks that should be avoided or at least saved for very special and rare occasions.
Some Of The Least Healthy Alcoholic Drinks Include:
- Sugary cocktails, such as a long island iced tea or traditional margarita. These can be loaded with fructose and calories that are likely to be stored as fat.
- Frozen (ice-blended) drinks like a pina colada that are also usually very high in calories and sugar.
- Regular beer
Other Things To Consider With Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration by causing your body to remove fluids and can make you more likely to make less-healthy food choices. This is why it is important to make sure you are also drinking enough water when consuming alcohol and to make sure you have eaten balanced meals throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
It’s important to think about the reasons you drink alcohol. If it is for an occasional party or special event, it’s less likely to interrupt an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle. However, it can be easy to get into the habit of depending on alcohol for situations like stress, to help you sleep (even though it can actually have the opposite effect), or in order to have fun. In these situations, drinking alcohol is more likely to get out of hand or become a habit that is harder to break.
If you think you are depending too heavily on alcohol and are ready for support, it’s important to talk with your doctor and/or a trusted loved one. In addition, you can find support on websites like the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.
Some types of alcohol, particularly red wine, can have some health benefits. However, it’s always important to consume alcohol in moderation to protect your health and wellbeing.
Whether or not to drink alcohol is an individual choice that only you can make. If you have any medical conditions, it is always best to talk with your doctor before starting or increasing the amount of alcohol you consume.
Ultimately, if or when you do choose to consume alcohol, be sure you’re actually enjoying it and not just drinking out of habit or in order to escape from problems that should be addressed in other ways.