On this day, I must honor my Irish roots and write about what I like to drink. I sometimes joke about my Irish roots which explains why I love alcohol. There is actually some truth to this based on my genetic report from 23andMe, but I won’t go there now. For me though, it is not really the alcohol that I love. It is the complex and intense flavors that can only be experienced from an alcoholic beverage.
Because I am an omnivorous predator, I am very discriminating in my alcohol choices and consumption. I also practice some techniques to avoid the negative effects of alcohol. I only drink in moderation but also I only drink things that 1. Taste good, 2. Have little or no sugar, 3. Don’t return negative effects like headaches or hangovers.
I thoroughly enjoy the social aspects of drinking but the enjoyment of flavors and textures and the fact that it pairs so well with great food is more important to me. I am careful these days not to abuse the privilege of drinking because I want to enjoy it well into old age without any health consequences. By hacking your alcohol, you can enjoy the many pleasures while minimizing the downsides.
One of the most common questions I get asked as a nutritionist is what kind of alcohol can I drink or can I drink alcohol period? If you don’t currently drink alcohol, I would not encourage you to start drinking. But if you do drink, this article may be of interest.
I have actually been testing this for quite some time and I wrote a small piece on the health benefits of whiskey. I test my blood glucose level sometimes while partaking. I do this mostly to satisfy my curiosity. I get a blood glucose response from most any beer, very little increase from the wine that I choose and zero blood glucose increase from distilled spirits.
Distilled spirits by themselves have no sugar or carbs, just alcohol and the polyphenols (plant compounds). It is what are added to them that changes the value and effects on the body after consumption. My favorite distilled spirit is American bourbon. I mostly drink it neat and usually just a shot is plenty. It’s not just the oaky flavor, but the wonderful aroma after it has sat in a proper whiskey glass for a few minutes.
Guinness– Ubiquitous dark beer (actually red) they have been making for over 250 years, so it must be good. Low in alcohol(5.2). Guinness is probably one of the healthiest beers one can drink. There has been much written on the benefits of Guinness. Guiness contains some of the same plant based antioxidants found in dark chocolate and red wine.
Here is one subjective article:
Wine is actually considered Paleo. Wine can really put a hurting on you if you have over-consumed, even worse if you drink high alcohol/high sugar wine. The key to healthy wine drinking is to understand this and I’m no expert on wine and fermentation but this is my general understanding of the process:
During the fermentation process when making wine, the yeast consumes the sugar, producing the by products of alcohol and carbon dioxide. If left to a full fermentation, the yeast will consume all of the sugar and then they die of starvation. The remaining natural sugar is less than 1 gram per liter. Many wines in the US have the fermentation process stopped prematurely by adding sulfur dioxide(aka sulfites) to the mix to kill the yeast. This process leaves some sugar and thereby making for a sweeter wine. Some wines even have additional sugar added providing an even sweeter tasting wine.
The ideal healthy wine from a nutritional standpoint is a wine that is dry, not sweet, low in alcohol and mostly carb free. How can this be achieved when left to full fermentation? I believe that it mostly as to do with the sugar content of the grapes. Picking the grapes sooner or before becoming fully ripe is key. This means that there is naturally less sugar to begin with and hence less alcohol that can be naturally produced.
I go for the natural wines that are produced to a full fermentation. These are usually dryer and not sweet. Most European and South American wines are actually naturally fermented and organic. Europeans have stricter standards on most of their food and wines especially. Go for the foreign stuff and check the alcohol content.
Some low sugar/low alcohol wines:
Dry Farm Wines is currently the best and healthiest source of great wines on the planet. Please use the below link to order your case and get an extra bottle for 1 penny.
Fit Vine Wines Their wines are higher in alcohol and carbs than Dry Farm.
My favorite: Bull’s Blood hungarian red wine. Very dry and complex flavors. 12% alcohol.
Montepulciano wines are lower in alcohol and nutritionally friendly and of course delicious.
A good after dinner wine: Madeira wine comes in many different brands but all taste similar. A highly acidic wine which makes for good protein digestion. This was a popular wine and personal favorite of some of the USA’s founding fathers. This wine is abused in the production process and the taste is most impressive by tasting like “old” or “vintage”. I personally love this wine but due to its high sugar, I limit to an occasional after dinner drink.
I always provide extra support for my liver in the form of milk thistle and mega doses of vitamin c supplements, and of course a healthy diet. I usually accompany my drinking with Oolong or Puh erh tea and water to stay hydrated. As always, drink responsibly and enjoy the many pleasures that are to be found in alcoholic beverages without the negatives.