We have been trained to tolerate and to accept drinking as the norm. Commercials, tv shows and movies all portray getting drunk and having hangovers and having a drink every single day as normal and even “healthy”. Red wine gives us “healthy doses” of resveratrol – all things I used to (and wanted to) believe in order to justify my glass a day habit. After noticing consistent nose congestion and disrupted sleep I decided to question my relationship with alcohol and whether or not it was something I wanted to keep in my routine.
We associate coming home from a long day and rewarding ourselves with a lovely glass of wine or perhaps some other cocktail – we believe it helps us “relax” and wind down, and many believe that alcohol helps them sleep. In reality alcohol does not do any of these things – it actually does the opposite! Trust me, for so long I thought to myself “I could never give up wine!” – I needed it as much as I need and love my morning coffee. I accepted it as a part of who I was – until it stopped working for me and made me feel like trash (even just a small, acceptable amount).
DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF CONSUMING ALCOHOL:
- Alcohol (ethanol) is converted into acetaldehyde once consumed which is an actual poison – it damages and kill cells – then it’s further converted into acetate; if your body can’t process the alcohol fast enough it will build up as acetaldehyde in the body
- Alcohol is water and fat soluble: it passes into all cells and tissues in the body (thus explaining the damaging effects)
- Alcohol increases risk of breast cancer due to the fact it increases estrogen in the body and negatively affects hormones (due to the ethanol, so steer clear especially of higher alcoholic beverages)
- Alcohol impedes detoxification: alcohol is the most toxic thing we ingest and the liver and kidneys prioritize processing it through the body before processing anything else in the body
- Alcohol impedes restful sleep. We normally experience 7 REM stages of sleep – when we drink alcohol we experience about two of these levels. Deprivation of sleep overtime causes a laundry list of health problems
- It takes 3-4 days to fully remove alcohol from our body (again, discussing the detoxification process and how detrimental it is if we consume alcohol regularly, our body is always working overtime)
- Alcohol causes weight gain and interferes with weight loss
- Alcohol causes facial redness and broken capillaries (even moderate consumption)
- Forebrain shuts down the more and more you drink (frontal cortex) – however there is a small percentage of chronic drinkers who do not respond normally to the alcohol and they become more and more energized the more they drink due to a gene variance – and these people are the future alcoholics/have genetic predisposition to alcoholism
- People who drink 1-2 drinks per night or a few on weekends will have changes done to the hypothalamus in the brain that cause increase in cortisol when not drinking
This is not an extensive list! There are so many other damaging things alcohol (ethanol) does to the body. I highly suggest watching or listening to the below podcast by Dr. Andrew Huberman on the effects of alcohol on the body and health.
When I decided I wanted to cut it out it was due to the fact most red wines severely congested my sinuses, made me wake up at night feeling hot and restless, and because of the fact it raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Once I cut it out I no longer craved a nightly glass, I noticed I had much more energy all throughout the day, I breathed better, and slept deeply without waking up hot (or at all). Let me remind you that I never drank to get drunk, never had multiple glasses, and I didn’t like liquor or any other form of a drink besides a glass of red usually with dinner. That is still a very damaging effect to the body – even 1 drink per night or a few drinks per week! I had no idea, and now I feel like I need to cut it out as long as possible to allow my body to recover and resume baseline.
Sometimes we think something is not affecting negatively us until we remove it from our lives and notice how much better things are without it. That was my case with alcohol/red wine. I thought that 4-6 oz glass every night was not “too much” and “the norm” and “couldn’t possibly be affecting me negatively” until I removed it completely. Ever since cutting it out I don’t crave it or want it and we are saving so much money! My energy levels are just dramatically higher LONGER in the day – well past 5 pm I feel energetic. My brain and thinking is better, I prefer feeling alert and completely cognizant of everything at all times. Alcohol is a depressant and makes you lethargic and it clouds your mind (and as noted is terrible for your brain). I prefer how I feel when I have zero alcohol in my system and realized it’s not something we need to wind down at all.
We are taught that when we turn 21 we are supposed to celebrate being able to drink alcohol – but I think we should certainly question this common way of thinking. I started wondering “what is the point???” of drinking — I sit at home and have a glass with dinner and then fast forward a few hours and I can’t breathe and my sleep is ruined – so why did I need to have that glass? Did it benefit me? Was it worth the shitty way I feel now??? To me, the answer is no.
Now, I am not saying I will never have another drink – BUT I am so much more cautious with when I will decide to have one because my eyes have been opened to how BAD alcohol actually is for us. I mean yes we always knew excessive amounts of alcohol are terrible and getting drunk is terrible for you, but have you actually read how alcohol is processed in the body?! I listened to a podcast by Andrew Huberman about alcohol and it completely opened my eyes to the detrimental effects of even “moderate to light” drinking. I also read Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker which also opened my eyes to more of the negative effects of drinking and made me question my general relationship with alcohol, and if it is something I even want to consume at all. I will say that going forward I plan on avoiding it 90% of the time and perhaps have some once a month or less – and certainly never two days in a row (do you know it takes DAYS for alcohol to get out of our system???)
These are my thoughts, what are yours? Let’s open up and discuss this substance more and normalize being sober! You do not have to have a problem with drinking to decide you don’t want it – and don’t let anyone make you feel uncomfortable for choosing not to drink. Remember there are tons of celebrities, athletes and others out there who choose to stay sober all of the time – so don’t feel obligated to drink if you are feeling like you should cut back! Perhaps you don’t cut it out 100%, but maybe you want to reduce consumption. That is perfectly OK! I will say it might seem like at first you could not possibly eliminate alcohol, but once you do it’s like opening up a whole new world of opportunities and mental clarity!