Are We Wine-ing Too Much?
Your workday is over and you’re tired, frustrated and ready to relax. You think you have a healthy lifestyle, but at the end of a stressful day, do you say F*ck it! and pour yourself a drink to unwind and change gears? Do you drink to soothe or change your emotional state? Are your drinking habits healthy? Initially I planned for my first post to be about saying goodbye to the beautiful days of summer. Everyone who knows me, knows that I dread the end of summer. We’ll look at that another time. Why? I couldn’t decide what to write about the end of summer (possibly because of my extreme sadness), and I became so frustrated that I poured a glass of wine hoping to unwind and fetch some focus. That’s how I often deal with frustration. Do you? Seems pretty harmless…right? Uh, not so much.
Does Wine Affect Women’s Health?
Lexi Williams’ article in Wine Spectator https://www.winespectator.com/articles/how-alcohol-affects-female-health sheds some light on your favourite girl-time activity.
- Women-drinking-wine has increased 7-fold in recent years.
- Women in high pressure jobs are more prone to drink wine.
- Wine seems to be the liquid form of comfort food.
I can’t say that I’m surprised by this. Just walk by any restaurant, pub or bistro after work and you’ll see specials for Toasting Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and so on. Maybe you pass a gym on the way that is promoting a healthy lifestyle, so you look the other way, because wine isn’t just for weekends anymore. But ladies, here’s a word of warning. As much as you just want to relax with your friends, your new book or the latest sexy episode of Outlander with your beautiful glass (or bottle) of ruby red by your side, keep this in mind; according to Dr. Theresa Tam’s 2018 Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, “having one drink a day over the long term can increase our chances of getting at least 8 types of cancer. Between 4-10% of all breast cancer is caused by alcohol. There is an increase in the rate of heavy drinking among women. Part of the reason could be that women are using alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety.”
So, what exactly does alcohol do in and to a woman’s body? According to Dr. Sheryl A Ross, OB/GYN and author of the book She-ology, THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO WOMEN’S INTIMATE HEALTH https://www.drsherry.com/sheology-book/ we have enzymes in our stomachs that process alcohol. “Alcohol is metabolized by several processes or pathways. The most common of these pathways involves two enzymes—alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes help break apart the alcohol molecule, making it possible to eliminate it from the body.” But of course…yet another way men and women are different- alcohol stays in a woman’s body longer than in a man’s, because we have lower levels of the enzymes that break alcohol down, explaining why in general, men can handle their booze better than women; also explaining women’s increased risk of alcohol related diseases such as liver inflammation because drink-for-drink, a woman’s blood alcohol level (BAC) will be higher, therefore the liver has more alcohol to process.
What Are We Doing To Ourselves?
The list of possible detrimental effects of women over-drinking alcohol are:
- premature aging of skin
- weight loss/weight gain
- fertility issues
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and liver inflammation
- liver disease
- high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
- increased family problems, broken relationships
- sexual problems
- gastritis (inflammation of stomach wall)
- cancers such as mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, bladder and bowel
Now For Some Good News!
Now, about these enzymes…and here comes some good news! As women age, estrogen decreases and we reach menopause (no, that’s not the good news). As a result, once we reach menopause, our bodies begin to metabolize alcohol better! So does that mean that women of a certain age can imbibe with slightly less guilt? Maybe! Want more good news? Dr. Sherry tells us that moderate alcohol consumption actually increases bone density in women and provides relief from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Did you know that non-drinkers are four times more likely to develop arthritis than drinkers? What? How does that make sense? Red wine is known to reduce cholesterol and inflammation because it contains an anti-oxidant called resveratrol https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281, so women who drink moderately are less likely to develop heart disease.
Confused yet? This will make it clear as mud. If we drink lightly we can reduce risk of disease, but if we drink more than lightly we increase the risk. During a conference on whole food eating and healthy lifestyle choices, Julie Daniluk, (find her at https://www.juliedaniluk.com/) Registered Holistic Nutritionist and author of Meals That Heal Inflammation, told us that drinking red wine is good for us. The crowd of mostly women erupted in raucous shouts of joy. Then she smirked, telling us that the proper and safe amount of wine is 2.5 ounces. Check it out for yourselves. That’s little more than a swig for some of us! To make it even more interesting, that 2.5-ounce swig must be consumed while eating in order for it to provide the protective benefits. Whoop-de-do.
So, what’s a girl to do? Hang on. I need a minute to focus.
I don’t mean to trivialize this. It can be a very serious issue. I wouldn’t be writing about this if I wasn’t concerned myself. Being locked in from Covid-19 didn’t help matters either. Many people have reported drinking more than usual since the lock-down.
Well, we should do our research; know the risks so you can enjoy the benefits. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, recommends 10 drinks max per week- no more than 2 per day, and to plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit. You can see the brochure and other information on addiction at https://www.ccsa.ca/canadas-low-risk-alcohol-drinking-guidelines-brochure.
We’ve all heard of Dry January, when we are encouraged to go alcohol-free after all our Christmas celebrating and New Year’s Eve partying. Now, there is Sober October. Timothy Dowling, an American journalist and author writes that “drinking is often a habitual response to a need we have not taken the time to articulate.” That makes a lot of sense. You can read his blog at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/30/sober-october-17-ways-to-unwind-after-a-stressful-day-without-hitting-the-booze.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE!
What if we took some time after work to change the routine? Make a drink with sparkling water, or walk the dog. Kids in bed? Grab your book and read, or do your favourite craft. Can’t sleep? Do some quick yoga, or drink some herbal tea. Distract yourself with something other than reaching for that wine bottle. Let’s get out of the habit. Why don’t we do Wine-Free Wednesday? Share this post with your girlfriends and start something new. Are you up for the challenge? I’m in! Off I go to buy some sparkling water.
Happy Saturday! Thanks for reading. Check back each Saturday around noon, to see my next post.
Carol Paino~ Parts Of Ourselves