Once upon a time, if you craved a mocktail in a bar, chances are there was little to tempt you on the menu. Now that is a thing of the past as an increasing number of mixologists are shaking things up to create drinks that are just as classy and tasty as their boozy counterparts. Couple this with the fact that there are health benefits involved in cutting back and you’ve got the perfect concoction for trying out some tasty alternatives. Living a long and healthy life doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abstain from alcohol altogether.
Is Booze Holding Your Health Back? Photo Gallery
In fact, some tipples like red wine have an abundance of antioxidants that help to protect your ticker and keep your mind sharp. “Enjoying the odd glass of wine that is rich in polyphenols, which are micronutrients with antioxident properties, is all part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle,” says Dr Jenna Macciochi. However, the bottom line is that alcohol is a drug that can affect reaction times, perception and control as Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa explains: “You may not be able to think clearly if you’ve had a lot to drink, and this may have a negative effect on the level of neurotransmitters in your brain.” These neurotransmitters include dopamine, which helps to regulate movement and emotional response, as well as endorphins, our happy hormone. An imbalance of the two can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
An increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages can also interfere with your body’s ability to activate vitamin D – a key nutrient that is produced naturally when you are exposed to sunlight, and one that is needed to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Dr Jenna Macciochi says: “Excessive drinking puts an unhealthy overload on the liver, making it less likely to perform vitamin D conversion. This could be particularly important in winter where less sun exposure leaves us prone to deficiency.”
RETHINK YOUR DRINK
There’s no need to abstain, but cutting back on your alcohol intake can have significant health benefits. Alcohol and mixers are generally very calorific – they have no nutritional value, so limiting your consumption could help you lose weight. Dr Lauretta Ihonor says: “If you’re someone who struggles to shed the pounds but regularly consumes alcohol, you’re likely to notice a slimmer waistline by eliminating it from your diet.” While alcohol may take you to the land of nod quickly, it also reduces rapid eye movement – and that is the restorative part of the sleep pattern. It’s simple, really, cut back on alcohol and reap the benefits of better sleep, positive mental health, a slimmer waistline and a general feeling of happiness.
5 Ways To Cut Back On Booze
1 Tune in before you start drinking. How do you feel physically and emotionally about having a drink? Avoid drinking to improve mood or as a solution to problems.
2 Pause to remember: how your body feels during and after drinking. Did it encourage any collateral damage e.g. encouraging overeating, regret etc?
3 Make a plan: talk to friends and family in advance. Come up with boundaries that you know you will be comfortable with e.g. abstinence, lower alcohol drinks, swapping for virgin cocktails. Touch base with yourself throughout an event where you are faced with booze.
4 Remember alcohol does not equal stress relief. There is a reason the first drink goes down fast. It is both a depressant and stimulant.
5 Always be curious about your habits. There is nothing wrong with having a drink but it can be mentally strengthening to take a time out.