VODKA TO GIN — HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ALCOHOL FOR YOUR HORMONES
The approaching holiday season means more indulging, more celebrating, and more imbibing is likely on the horizon. We know booze can be a bit of a setback when you’re trying to balance your hormones and improve your skin, but sometimes you just gotta live a little. If you make better choices about what you drink, you can find a happy medium between fun and health without being struck by guilt every time you enjoy a happy hour drink or two.
Not all alcohol is created equal. The biochemistry of how your body metabolizes alcohol is complex, causing a variety of hormonal and health impacts that extend beyond the calorie count. Alcohol like bourbon, wine, and beer contain phytoestrogens (estrogen-mimicking substances), which can raise your estrogen levels, worsening PCOS, endometriosis, and fibroid symptoms. Wine and beer also contain more sugar and carbohydrates than, say, rum, tequila, and vodka causing your body to handle them in the same way it does pure sugar, resulting in a spike in blood sugar levels and cortisol.
The answer instead is distilled alcohol. Distilled alcohol is alcohol that has been processed after fermenting to separate it from the water and additional substances, making it even more concentrated. Liquors and spirits are distilled alcohols, whereas wine and beer are just fermented.
Science says if taken in moderate amounts, vodka can help induce sleep and help you stay asleep. And we all know how important sleep is for your hormones! Vodka also contains no sugar or carbohydrates so it won’t impact your blood sugar levels. Tonic water can negatively affect your glucose, however, so in the name of balanced hormones, take the shot!
Gin is made from juniper berries which are high in antioxidants and have been used for centuries as medicine. When consumed lightly (as in 1 drink/day), gin has been shown to have positive impacts on blood pressure and heart health. Skip the tonic and opt for soda water, high quality gin, and a splash of bitters for some added digestive benefits.
Some studies have found whisky aged for over 10 years contains about as much polyphenols as red wine. So if you happen to have lower estrogen levels and don’t mind a small dose of phytoestrogens, invest in a higher quality, longer aged whisky on the rocks — it’s for your health.
Tequila / Mezcal
Many dieticians and doctors recommend tequila, which is a type of mezcal, as the healthiest alcoholic choice — here’s why. High quality tequila (made from 100% agave) contains no sugar, so it won’t spike your blood sugar levels and is even safe for people with type 2 Diabetes to drink. Tequila also contains probiotics (although not enough to make it your main supplement) and dietary fiber, making it more gut friendly than other alcohols.
Rum contains antibacterial properties and has been used to help cure strep throat and in moderate amounts, may help protect brain cells. Opt for dark rum, as it ages longer in wood barrels than white rum and contains more healthy antioxidants. But be warned, rum is made with sugar cane juice or molasses, so it’s not the best option to prevent your blood sugar from spiking.
Brandy contains vitamin C and polyphenols which can help keep inflammation at bay and prevent heart disease and strokes. One shot of brandy contains your daily recommended vitamin C intake, so keep that in mind the next time you’re ordering a drink!
Finally, Do As the French Do
Never drink on an empty stomach. Be sure to eat a good meal with a little fat before you begin imbibing or pair it with your drink(s) of choice to slow down your body’s glucose uptake and prevent fainting, alcohol poisoning, and magnified hangovers. The French also know the health benefits of a good drink with friends and family, so relax, pour yourself a glass, and enjoy the season — it’s good for your hormones.