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The Yin & Yang of Alcohol

Alcoholic beverage sales shot up 55% in the third week of March compared to the same time a year ago, according to Nielsen. As millions of Americans have been forced to stay home they’re drinking a lot of alcohol. It makes sense, alcohol is a totally socially accepted drug for helping us feel better in these stressful times.

But just as with any drug, there are health risks. You may not think of alcohol as a drug. Even though it is associated with 88,000 deaths per year in the U.S, it is not on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of controlled substances. All other drugs (legal and illegal) are on this list.

A drug is defined as any substance other than food that affects the function of the body, and alcohol (in any amount) does that. When consumed, it enters your bloodstream immediately and reaches your brain within five minutes of drinking it. Alcohol affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that control thought processes, behavior and emotion. We drink to enjoy these neurotransmitter alterations. More details here.

For many years Victoria and I enjoyed a glass of wine each evening with our dinner. Then about 7 years ago her naturopathic doctor advised her to stop drinking wine. For a while I continued to have my nightly glass of wine and Victoria had a glass of sparkling beverage. Not the same. Mainly, we just drink lemon water or tea now. We don’t miss the wine. In fact we are feeling healthier without it. However, we do enjoy a glass of bubbly for very special occasion …makes the celebration fun.

If you enjoy an alcoholic beverage each day, there are plenty of health experts who will tell you the health risks are minimal and there may even be some health benefits.  It’s a touchy subject. Everyone has their own views about alcohol. Like food, it is part of our social rituals of friendship and celebration. Everyone has to choose for themselves to eat healthy food and avoid alcohol or not. Celebrating occasionally with rich foods and alcohol isn’t the same as routine daily consumption. When we started a strict diet on fresh, organic green foods and no alcohol, we felt better and our health improved. It has become our life style and we are grateful for the health benefits we experience especially as we age..

If you are at all concerned about your alcohol intake (or someone you love), I recommend reading a wonderful book titled: “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober”. Here’s an excellent 4-minute read summary.

I always love to hear your perspective.

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