June 13th, 2024

Common Sense Health: Are non-alcoholic beverages the better choice?

By Dr. Gifford-Jones and Diana Gifford-Jones on June 7, 2024.

Do we enjoy alcoholic drinks? We do! A relaxing drink before dinner with our loved ones is standard practice. We are supported by a landmark study involving 490,000 people involving the American Cancer Society, World Health Organization, and Oxford University that found one alcoholic drink daily decreased the risk of death by 20 percent. Moreover, moderate drinkers have increased levels of the good cholesterol. Platelets, part of the blood clotting process, are more slippery making them less likely to form a fatal blood clot. Medically, for moderate drinkers, it’s a win-win.

But irresponsible and heavy drinkers cause too many road deaths year after year. Excessive alcohol can also lead to family violence and many other societal ills. This is why non-alcoholic beverages need more promotion.

But instead of providing the alternative of a stylish, healthy non-alcoholic product, the problem remains. Whether it’s quitting smoking, going on a diet, or vowing, “I’ll stop drinking while driving in the New Year,” it rarely happens. Failing to make the change can be a deadly error. Why?

Because driving while drunk can kill an innocent child or an entire family – unthinkable consequences for such carelessness. Even without such catastrophes, drinking and driving rightly amounts to criminal charges and jail time. So why not embrace the alternative? No one gets hurt from drinking a non-alcoholic beverage (NAB).

What are the advantages of NABs and why should we promote a new trend in drinking them? First, all the dangers of drinking are eliminated, including drunk driving. It’s estimated that the harmful use of alcohol causes 3 million deaths every year. Next, say good-bye to hangovers that cause three to eight times more absenteeism from work among heavy alcohol users. Hungover drinkers who make it to work are more likely to cause accidents leading to injuries. Heavy drinking also increases the risk of liver disease, brain damage, cancer, and immune system disfunction.

Swapping the empty calories of booze for a low-calorie NAB will help with weight loss. But people neglect to watch out for calories in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks alike, and sugary drinks, including many wines, are no good in the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes. NABs can be loaded with sugar too, so to get the benefit, do your research before making your selection.

Ask anyone who has decreased alcohol consumption and they will tell you they sleep better. If there’s been strife in the family from alcohol, adherence to NABs can restore happiness. And it will be big news if the trend away from alcohol to NABs results in a decrease in cancer rates.

Switching to NABs can be a financial gain too. Even just a few alcoholic drinks a week can add up to over a thousand dollars per year for the consumer.

But all this said, keep your mind open about the positive effects of alcohol. Alcohol in moderation has a relaxing effect that dilates arteries. This translates to a lower risk of heart attack and strokes caused by blood clots. As the saying goes, “Alcohol is for the elderly what milk is for the young.” For the depressed or anxious, alcohol isn’t the wise choice as a tool for coping, but a social drink with family and friends can be soothing at the end of a stressful day.

Taking the personal decision to drink NABs can be frustrated by friends that insist on pressing alcoholic drinks. Social settings that traditionally involve alcohol, like bars and restaurants can also be a problem. Everyone will need to adjust if the NAB trend is to grow. Let’s hear what readers think.

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