Summer typically brings with it an increase in social activities that revolve around alcohol. Whether it's 4th of July, happy hour on the patio, potlucks, vacations... alcohol tends to go hand in hand with warm weather.
We all know that alcohol is "bad" for us but unless we are actively trying to quit drinking, on medications with side effects or have underlying health issues, this is kind of a vague threat that can make us feel guilty for no specific reason.
Let's get specific - because once we know why alcohol isn't great for us (we all know about our liver! that's still vague!), we can get into how to drink it to lessen the damage - because to be frank, I'm going to continue drinking (in moderation) and I refuse to feel guilty about it - and neither should you.
First: how alcohol impacts our body
Your body registers alcohol as a toxin, which means that it prioritizes the elimination of alcohol over other bodily functions. This leads to slower digestion with reduced efficiency, and also means that your body doesn't absorb nutrients as well as it would otherwise. Frequent alcohol consumption can lead to nutrient deficiency & illness due to toxin buildup from reduced digestion/elimination.
By reducing the efficiency of our digestion (& causing spikes in our blood sugar) alcohol causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to a whole host of skin issues (including acne, psoriasis, hyperpigmentation & advanced signs of aging). Systemic inflammation & dehydration can also destroy collagen, creating permanent damage to the structure of our skin. Frequent alcohol consumption can lead to breakouts, fine lines/wrinkles & puffiness.
Now: how to minimize the effects of alcohol on our health
The best choice for your health is to abstain from alcohol. The second best option is to follow these tips & practice moderation.
Not-so-fun fact: If you're 20, an alcoholic beverage leaves your body in about 3 hours, but if you're 40, it takes an average of 33 hours.
It's easier for your body to process clear alcohols (vodka, gin, tequila) than dark alcohols (such as whiskey).
Eat a nutrient rich diet (& supplement where needed)
Since alcohol decreases nutrient absorption, it's extra important to make sure that your meals are balanced. Especially at risk are B-vitamins & minerals like magnesium, selenium & zinc - if you drink semi-regularly (in moderation, I'm sure) I'd suggest taking a daily multivitamin to make sure your bases are covered.
This one is a no-brainer. Boost your overall health with 30+ minutes of movement a day. Bonus points if you're getting your heart-rate up! This will help your body bounce back from the effects of alcohol & helps to minimize these effects to begin with. Exercise boosts your digestion, helps regulate blood sugar, boosts your endorphins, & is key for overall skin & body health.
Never drink on an empty stomach
When you drink on an empty stomach, there is nothing in your system to slow the absorption of alcohol. Since alcohol is essentially sugar, your blood sugar spikes dramatically - contributing to inflammation & dysregulated cortisol. Instead, eat fiber, protein & healthy fats - like hummus/veggies, charcuterie, or a handful of nuts.
One glass of water per glass of alcohol
This one is also a no-brainer. Increasing your water consumption helps to protect your organs, boosts your digestion & helps to protect against a hangover! win-win-win
Here's one for the road: Avoid sugary drinks
Protect yourself against blood-sugar spikes by opting for reduced-sugar drinks. This means avoiding mixers like soda or tonic water & instead choosing soda water, kombucha, or other low-sugar options.
Alcohol wreaks havoc on your digestion & your skin health BUT there are ways to protect your body & minimize these effects.
The best choice for your skin is to abstain from alcohol, & there's no shame in the sober game. That being said, if you want to drink, have a drink! Just ask yourself... why do I want to drink? If the answer is to feel less awkward/more social/because you feel uncomfortable not drinking... that's info, so take a moment to reflect on it. If the answer is simply - because I want to indulge! That's just fine too - have that drink (or have a few!) just remember to follow the above tips.
Life is about balance and joy, so drink that cocktail but remember food, water & moderation, & have a great summer!!!