Hydrate! Drinks on the patio!

Great weather, patios and ice cold (alcoholic) drinks to hydrate.  Makes sense to me…or does it?

    SMai Tai in Mauio many of us joke around in the summer about hydrating with a beer or Bellini, because it seems like the appropriate thing to do.  Caught you with that title, eh? I bet you thought I was promoting *these* kinds of drinks on the patio!

    Now, I understand how tough this can be. When I was in Maui, “happy hour” was easy to find at any restaurant, at all hours.  And I’m not a drinker but it really can seem hard to resist when it’s only $2 a glass!  And there are the local Maui wines…

    I may joke, but it does concern me when people honestly counter with “but I’ve heard that red wine is good for you.” Recent studies have suggested that alcohol such as red wine may have some positive health benefits, but it also has negative health implications.  Some news reports miss out on the cons of alcohol consumption, and I worry that clients may inadvertently use this as an excuse to start up, or maintain the habit.

Some studies show an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. Given the complexity of alcohol’s effects on the body and the complexity of the people who drink it, blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question. Because each of us has unique personal and family histories, alcohol offers each person a different spectrum of benefits and risks. Whether or not to drink alcohol, especially for “medicinal purposes,” requires careful balancing of these benefits and risks.

Did you know:

* Females in middle age who drink alcohol moderately and consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates have a 30% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to women with similar dietary habits who don’t drink.

* Red wine has been proven to know health benefits in lowering heart disease, but contradicting studies show that in middle aged women the consumption of small amounts of red wine has shown to increase the chances of breast cancer.

* There are studies that show an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes.

Most of these studies pertain to red wine, specifically, so for anyone that thinks that having a vodka tonic or Corona is going to impart these benefits, sorry to be the bearer of bad news (but I bet you knew that already!).  And in January of this year, a statement was released that the researcher who discovered benefits of red wine fabricated data.  Uh oh. So who do we believe?

I won’t trouble you with commenting on other studies demonstrating that:wine, beer, martini etc

* WHO estimates that worldwide, alcohol is estimated to have a role in 20-30% of all cases of homicide, esophageal and liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, epileptic seizures and traffic accidents.

* Alcohol can also increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Two drinks a day can increase a healthy woman’s risk by 10 per cent — or more if there is a family history of the disease.

* Red wine can trigger migraines in people who are susceptible.

And then there is exercise – alcohol consumption after exercise can lead to poor recovery and slow repair of injuries because of dehydration and increased swelling and bleeding of injuries. You may be asking: Does alcohol affect your ability to be physically fit?  The answer is yes!

* Alcohol dehydrates the muscle cells and if your cells cannot hold as much water, it is more difficult to build muscle and strength.

* Alcohol stunts muscle growth by blocking the absorption of important nutrients.

* Alcohol impairs your psychological well-being, you may be trying to mask having a bad day and drink to feel better, which does not work.

* Alcohol is fattening! One drink usually leads to another, and a potato wedge, and an extra helping of that tasty, fattening appy.  Our nation is in a crisis of obesity, so if for no other reason, eliminate those empty calories, grab a bottle of water and go for a walk.

I’m not saying that alcohol is banned from your life but it pays to know the facts and be able to weigh the pros and cons before having a(nother) drink.  Coming from someone that has finally learned to appreciate wine with food, my non-peer reviewed, health authority advice is this:

“If you are going to have an alcoholic drink, enjoy it.  Savour it, use the best ingredients possible and get all spiritual with that drink: focus on what you’re doing, get passionate and super appreciative of the drink. Don’t just slam it back because you’ve had a hard day, or waste your time with an awful tasting drink (too sweet, too tart, watery, whatever your poison is). Don’t order another round “just because.”  Be conscious of your actions and the consequences.  Then you can REALLY enjoy your hangover the next day and the extra burpees we’ll make you do to burn off those extra calories (for our healthy hangover cures, check out this link).  Because we love you.” So here’s to your health and hydration, pass the Perrier and a slice of lemon, please!

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