Does a Healthy Alcohol Exist? Dr. Will Cole Explains

  • Written By:Dr. Will Cole
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You can make healthier choices when you do indulge in a drink (or two) with friends.

Whether it is a single glass of wine after work or a few drinks with friends on the weekend – alcohol is something you probably enjoy from time to time. But if you are health-conscious, you are also aware that not all alcohol is treated equally. In general, increased alcohol intake is associated with higher levels of the inflammatory C-reactive protein. And that is just the alcohol itself. The type of alcohol and the ingredients it is made from can also make a significant difference in how you feel.

As a functional medicine practitioner, I’ve seen firsthand how making different choices, can make a huge difference in my patient’s overall health. So, while we don’t expect you to go completely dry, you can make healthier choices when you do indulge in a drink (or two) with friends.

Red wine

If you are looking for a drink that could actually improve your health, red wine is your go-to. Packed with antioxidants like resveratrol, in moderation it can help improve cardiovascular health, and even lower inflammatory CRP. Just remember to look for organic, sulfate-free brands so you taking full advantage of its benefits.

Champagne

Due to the fermentation process, champagne actually has some probiotic properties making it a great choice for parties or when you want to switch things up from red wine.

Tequila

No need to skip out on Taco Tuesday, because this clear liquor made from agave is surprisingly a healthier choice. Just be sure to get tequila made from 100 percent agave, as some brands use grains in addition to agave.

Hard Cider

Naturally gluten-free, fermented cider is a delicious choice if you are looking for something on the sweeter side since it is made of fruit like apples. But with sweetness comes sugar, so you’ll want to drink this in moderation as to not go into a sugar overload. Look for dry cider as this variety will still be a little sweet but will be lower in overall sugar content.

Vodka is another good choice if you are choosing brands that use potatoes instead of grains in their distillation process.

Rum

Distilled using molasses and sugarcane, rum is a better choice if you don’t have access to one of the above options since it is grain-free. Its heavy sugar content is what lands it lower on the list though.

Gin

Gin specifically is distilled using a variety of different botanicals like coriander, juniper, or cinnamon which have their own unique health benefits including fighting free radical damage, antibacterial properties, and stabilizing blood sugar.

Gin is typically made using grains like gluten-containing wheat and barley. While there is some debate on whether or not the gluten protein is removed during the distillation process, depending on your level of sensitivity, you may still react poorly to alcohol made from grains. You can choose brands made with potatoes instead to avoid this. However, potatoes are considered a nightshade, so if you know that you have a sensitivity to potatoes also, you’ll probably want to skip this option.

Vodka

Vodka is another good choice if you are choosing brands that use potatoes instead of grains in their distillation process. Just be sure to check the label before making your purchase and avoid flavored options with added sugar. And again, if you have a sensitivity to nightshades, you might want to skip this choice as well.

Whiskey

Even though it is still made from grains, including gluten-containing grains like wheat and barley, there are a lot of brands that are made from grains such as corn which is gluten-free.

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If you are a fan of mixed drinks, here’s how you can elevate your drinks to maximize your health with each sip.

Choose mixers wisely

This might be obvious, but simply say no to soda or other pre-mixed syrups which are just loaded with sugar and can impact your gut health and further perpetuate inflammation. I like to stick with La Croix or even Zevia which is made with stevia instead of soda. If you are looking to up your game even more, kombucha will give you the added benefit of probiotics.

Play around with adaptogens

These plant-based herbal medicines have become increasingly popular in the wellness world. They are generally safe for everyone and are known for helping to restore balance to various areas of the body that are out of whack. You can check out my guide here to see which adaptogen is best for you. Since they are most commonly found in powdered form, you can easily mix these into your drinks.

Add in herbs

Not only can herbs enhance the flavor of your drink, many have powerful health benefits. You can muddle them in or make homemade infused syrups depends on your preference. Lavender, ginger, and cilantro are great choices for their subsequent benefits including alleviating anxiety and stress, easing digestive distress and inflammation, and enhancing detoxification.

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