Rethink Your Drink!

Non alcoholic bee
There are many options for non-alcoholic beverages. Here are a few hubby enjoys on occasion.

Are you working to improve your health? It might be the right time to rethink your drink. It could be the one thing holding you back from living the life of which you’ve been dreaming. 

 As a dietetic student, I remember interviewing a Registered Dietitian as part of a class project. I had a list of questions prepared; “Why did you become a dietitian? What is most rewarding about being a dietitian?” “What has been the most challenging aspect of your work as a dietitian? It was her answer to this last question that caused me to pause.

She said, “Having to address alcohol use with a client.” She went on to tell me, “I knew my client could never reach her health goals until she focused on her use of alcohol. I had to be honest with my client and it was a little uncomfortable.”

Her client went on to stop drinking and that is when an amazing change began to take shape with the client’s goals! Have you been thinking about reducing your alcohol consumption? Has the pandemic left you having more spirits than you think you should be? I’ve compiled some research to support your decision. Here are the top 5 most compelling facts I found.

There is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional drink women regularly have each day. Alcohol has also been linked to an increase in head, neck, esophageal, liver, and colorectal cancers.

Although past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective heart health benefits, recent studies show this may not be true. However, there is much we can do to support heart health through nutrition and physical activity. Contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Any type of alcohol is bad for your blood pressure since regular consumption increases blood pressure. It is estimated that approximately 16% of hypertension (high blood pressure diagnosis) is due to alcohol consumption. The good news? This effect is largely reversible within 2-4 weeks of refraining from alcohol consumption. This increase in blood pressure occurs irrespective of the type of alcoholic beverage – so yes, even red wine can be the culprit. Studies that have looked for a link between the effects of vasodilation (blood vessel dilation) and the flavonoid compounds in red wine have not been supported by interventional studies.

As a dietitian, I typically point out to my clients that alcohol accounts for 7 calories per gram. This puts them in the driver’s seat when deciding if they want alcohol to contribute significant calories to their intake. Instead, they may opt for more nutrient-dense foods that promote health. Studies find that high average daily alcohol consumption was independently associated with an increase in BMI. Subjects who consumed alcohol also had a significantly higher prevalence of obesity when compared to those who did not.

My personal holy grail of feeling well, a good night’s sleep, is disrupted by alcohol consumption. In fact, the consumption of alcohol has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. Studies demonstrate that alcohol use can exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

There is help if you are looking for support in an effort to re-think your drink. Helplines, resources, self-management recovery training, and apps to are available.

Interestingly there has also been a surge of non-alcoholic beverages being offered in the marketplace, however, that can also be a slippery slope for some folks. Have you decided to rethink your drink? Here is an article that considers the options for non-alcoholic spirits.

Want more information on alcohol and its effects on your body? I’m just about to read “Alcohol Explained” a book that was highly recommended by a client.

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