Ah! I’ve been meaning to create a post dedicated to alcohol….
In particular – this provides some much-needed additional info for my fellow gluten-sensitive and Celiac cohorts.
Some of you may have noticed the martinis that are featured in the “Loungy-Vibe” photos that help to create some atmosphere around our site. Since our Vitality Lounge is virtual – we were going for a laid-back and comforting vibe – with an ode to not giving up the things we enjoy in order to live & eat clean and achieve a life of vitality.[Side Note: Please let us know if this is working! What are your candid thoughts on this online environment?]
Alcohol has one of those reputations that require us to walk a fine-line (and a fairly straight line, I might add!)
Because yes – there is some science-based evidence of alcohol’s health benefits….
However, there is also plenty of science to suggest that it’s easy to over-do it – even on irregular binges – which can all be detrimental to our health & well being. The key is – as always – moderation…..
Additionally – there is a lot of confusion out there surrounding the ‘safety’ of alcohol for gluten-sensitive folks, and those who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Here I’m going to give you a basic, nut-shell overview of the bennies, the dangers, and some gluten-guidance when it comes to imbibing…
First – we all are aware of the many dangers of going overboard with alcohol. Even binge-drinking (drinking in intervals with the intention of getting drunk) – no matter how irregular – can impede our health on a grand scale. Let’s just recap briefly, some of the negative impacts of regular over-consumption and/ or binge-drinking:
- fatty liver disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver [death of liver cells, replaced by scar tissue, impeding the ability of proper liver function]
- brain damage/ permanent changes within the brain
- dependency for those who are predisposed
- cancers (particularly of the mouth & throat, but also of the colon, breast, and liver)
- impaired judgement (and the potential for fatal accidents)
- let’s not forget the potential for embarrassment, regrets and a general inability to truly connect with people
Then you have the info that touts alcohol’s health boosts. Apparently (according to science) it can have a positive impact on overall health if you practice moderation, and limit any daily consumption to 1 standard drink for women, and up to 2 for men.
Due to the antioxidant content of wines, they are generally regarded as having the greatest health impacts, in spite of their glucose content. *BUT – be sure to avoid heavily processed wines. Today’s wineries aren’t often following the old-fashioned methods of fermenting the good stuff. There are often unsavory additives involved now, besides the potential pesticides & fertilizers used to grow the grapes. I favor organic and biodynamic wine varieties – and often notice a difference at times if I employ a more standard wine option. FOR GLUTEN-AVOIDERS: I recently learned this from an online source called Gluten Free School. It’s said that sometimes wine makers use a gluten paste to seal the barrels – which can then of course, leach into the wine itself. So we have to use some caution, even with wines.
The list of bennies for moderate consumption includes the following possible links:
- reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and improved insulin sensitivity
- reduced risk of gullstones
- reduced risk of dementia
- reduced risk of stroke
*A few extra tips & guidelines regarding alcohol to keep in mind if you are incompatible with gluten:
I have indeed had symptoms as though I’d gotten ‘glutened’ after drinking hard liquors over the years. [I’m not a lush – but I do enjoy an occasional drinky-poo. I’m partial to wines, but enjoy a fru-fru drink on occasion as well. Again – there’s something to be said for moderate enjoyment. That’s the key to our healthy living – still LIVING!]
In more recent years – I’ve stayed away from anything that does/may contain or come from a gluten-derived ingredient. EVEN DISTILLED spirits (which some claim will not harbor the compounds that induce the gluten-response) – can still have an adverse affect on certain people. (I’m
pretty sure certain I’m one of them.)
Additionally, some glutenous-grain-based hard liquors that are distilled during processing have some of the mash added back to the final product to enhance flavor. If that’s the case, a gluten-sensitive person is likely to react.
And – watch out for caramel coloring! It can be derived from gluten-containing components…. However, even when it isn’t – it’s best to avoid, as iIt’s considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent.)
To wrap up – here is what I contributed to the comments relating to the GF School article referenced above:
“I’ve personally had experiences with a gluten-like response to alcohol in recent years, (surprisingly, this includes wine.) However, I may be sensitive to the level of sulfites found in certain varieties, as well as a prior sensitivity to sugar/ glucose consumption. [Added for this article.]
For Wine, I tend to stick with organic or biodynamic varieties and those sit well with me. *Overall, I’ve had good responses to wine since eliminating a systemic yeast! [Added for this article.]
I try to stick with potato vodka *(or other non-grain-derived varieties) [Added for this article]. [Corn is so inflammatory in the body, with its exceptionally high omega 6 content. If it’s not organic – it’s also most likely GMO-derived.] *I will partake in a dirty martini made with Prairie Organic Vodka (corn-based) when it’s the only safe option while out and in the mood for a taster.
I enjoy rum as well – though we have to be aware of those additives. Particularly for gluten-free connoisseurs like ourselves – watch out for caramel coloring. (NOTE: It’s carcinogenic even if not glutenous; I avoid it regardless.)
2 MAJOR THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
– Some non-glutenous alcohols could have shared an aging barrel with things like whiskey. Use caution with things like brandy, rum, wine….
– Be aware of any MIXERS you may intend to use with a hard alcohol. Many of the mixers contain gluten-compounds (in addition to other nasty inclusions.) I highly recommend making your own authentic drink mixes from real ingredients. It tastes better, and is much better for you!
As an example – make your own margaritas using: Tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec, agave + salt for the rim. Presto!
So go ahead and enjoy a drink or two on occasion, while forgoing the guilt.
That IS actually considered healthy.
I’ll drink to that!
PS: Please let me know in the comments if you have feedback on the imagery used to set the lounge-vibe around the site. Your opinion matters to me! Thank you for your insights!