Thoughtful alcohol intake during the holidays

heart disease

When we think of the holidays, tasty libations are often part of our plan. Eggnog and rum, an expensive bottle of wine with dinner, an Old Fashioned or Manhattan when you’re out to eat, beers with your old friends, the choices seem limitless. Once you have one, it typically always feels better to have two. Why not? It is a celebration. 

Unfortunately our alcohol consumption has skyrocketed though the pandemic and it’s starting to take a toll on our health. Can we reposition alcohol from being used as a stress management tool and put it back where it belongs, as a catalyst for festivities?

What is “excessive alcohol intake?” The CDC interprets heavy drinking as “8 or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.” As a practicing physician, I’ve worked with many people over the years to educate them on alcohol consumption and its influence on their health. This CDC definition seems high as I have seen less consumption per week have a profound effect on an individuals’ health. An individuals’ baseline health is an important variable when determining the effects of their alcohol consumption. 

Many of you have often heard me talk about the bucket. Let us do a quick review for those that are new to the concept. Your body is like a "bucket." Let me explain:

  • Stress and toxicity fill up your bucket 
  • Your organs of elimination (liver, kidney, lungs, colon, uterus) have to get rid of this burden; ie empty the bucket

As long as the load of the burden does not overwhelm the organs of elimination, then you can tolerate some adversity, such as a little more excessive drinking over the holidays. But, if your bucket is full, and your organs of elimination cannot keep up with getting rid of the burden, then too much alcohol consumption will put your health in a more vulnerable position. 

This may seem common sense, but often we are not encouraged to look at our health from this perspective. Our focus tends to be on managing symptoms such as our increased body and joint pain, regular headaches or digestive distress that can happen after too much alcohol consumption. The biggest concern with health is not about those short term symptoms but rather the influence of the overall toxic load that the body has to manage. This puts us in a more precarious spot when dealing with diseases such as cancer, heart and autoimmune diseases. 

Heavy alcohol intake also disrupts our endocrine system by impacting our livers. High in sugar, alcohol has to be processed through the liver. Accumulation of triglycerides (blood fats made from sugar) happens faster with increased alcohol intake and eventually depositing them in the liver tissues. Metabolic dysfunction caused by excessive alcohol consumption will drop testosterone levels in guys.  

When healing from chronic disease or wanting to move towards optimal health, improving your relationship with alcohol is an important part of the process.  How do we do this? 

First, become educated about your choices and their impact on your health. Awareness is always the first step to change. Then, be intentional with your decision making. Have a plan and a strategy to become clearer about why you make your choices and decisions. 

What are you looking to achieve this holiday season? What’s your vision for how you want to feel both coming into it and coming out of it? Increased alcohol intake may be an obstacle to achieving the outcomes you desire. 

Here is an idea: this holiday season, plan out when you will choose to drink. Spend some time visualizing the joy, connection and celebration that will happen when you are partaking in these festive rituals. Does it help you connect and create a bond with bigger energy? Then, make a decision about what types of drinks and how many will help you achieve this more robust energetic connection. 

If you find yourself indulging and feel the symptoms of excess drinking, B vitamins are a great way to restore your health. They are part of virtually every metabolic pathway in your body and help detoxify your liver. Check out my Methyl-Detox Recovery B’s at my new online store. Find some great stocking stuffers to take care of your family today!

I know you can have a wonderful holiday season keeping your health in mind while still enjoying some tasty beverages. It all starts with intention.

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