To drink or not to drink? That is the question. 

What is alcohol anyways? Alcohol is created when yeast ferments sugars in a variety of foods. Wine is made from sugar in grapes, vodka from sugar in potatoes and so on. The active ingredient in the ethanol.

The fact that alcohol affects your body is no secret. The whole ‘getting drunk’ thing is a clear indication of that. But what exactly happens in your body when you consume alcohol? Have you ever actually looked into it? I definitely haven’t until now. 

Let’s learn together! Basically your entire body takes a toll so we will start with the brain and make our way through the internal organs and to bones and nerves. I’m not joking when I say your entire body is affected. 

Brain. Alcohol can interfere with a lot of things in your brain. It can change your mood and behavior as well as make it harder to make thought through decisions. Your speech can begin to slur, alcohol can also cause you to have a blackout, you know, when you just have a blank for a night out and even hallucinations. 

Heart. When you drink a lot over a period of time, or even on a single occasion, it can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy. 

Liver. Liver is your “filter”. When the liver functions well it detoxifies chemicals, filters the blood coming from the digestive tract. The issues that can arise with regular alcohol consumption are fibrosis, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis and steatosis.  

Pancreas. Alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can cause pancreatitis. It can affect the digestion flow and cause inflammation and swelling of blood vessels. 

Immune System.  After the few previous categories, the weekend immune system from consuming too much alcohol wouldn’t be remotely surprising. When your immune system is weak though, there’s a higher chance of contracting illness. There’s also a higher chance of getting pneumonia and tuberculosis compared to people who don’t drink much. Even one night out with heavy drinking can make your body more susceptible to infections for 24 hours after. 

Cancer Risk. Last but not least, research shows that people who drink more have a stronger chance of developing certain cancers. Cancers that have been found to be associated with drinking are: head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer.

This post is not to scare you by any means, but make you aware and provide information. Like donuts or cake alcohol is not inherently bad or good. It is a substance and you should be educated about what you’re putting in your body.

Nonetheless moderation and balance is truly key in anything and alcohol is no exception to the rule. When it comes to drinking it’s also not the worst idea to know your genetics and predisposition to addiction. If you are a generally healthy individual a drink here or there won’t do much harm.

Creating a system that works for you can also help with balance. For example:

If you’re drinking on Friday night, maybe take Saturday off.
If you drink on a regular basis throughout the month, doing a sober month can be where you find balance.

You get the idea. Balance it out.

You also must’ve clicked on the link to see the ways to have alcohol while following a healthier lifestyle. I think it is time to talk about it. 

I feel like one of the common assumptions about people who follow a healthy lifestyle, work out and eat healthy is that they don’t drink alcohol. While it might be true for some people, and that’s the way they choose to do it, it’s not by any means a rule or a general assumption. I am also here to tell you that the two can live in balance together and not ruin your gains. 

Most and foremost I want to remind you that alcohol is its own macronutrient, just like protein carbs and fats.  Alcohol has 7 calories per gram and those calories can easily creep up on you if you’re having a fun night out. A shot of vodka is only 97 calorie, but 4, 5, 6 shots and it’s already a meal worth of calories. Your diet can be also potentially lower in sugar, so if you want to keep your drinking in tune with that, maybe go for liquor and not beer, champagne or wine (some of them but not all)  that can be higher in sugar. 

If you like visual aids, as much as I do, this image can help you get a easy and digestible visual for different alcohols and their calorie amounts. Let’s get into the logistics of it all and learn what makes one type of alcohol different from another. 

types of alcohol

The goal here is to now break down different types of alcohol and help you find your beverage of choice that won’t interfere with your goals.    

Beer. Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages to be created going back all the way to 10,000 B.C. and was discovered by Mesopotamian culture and was later picked up in Egypt. Beer has been known to have the highest amount of carbohydrates, compared to other drinks. “Beer belly” is not a myth and drinking lots of beer can definitely make you gain some weight. 

In vino veritas.  “In wine there is truth”. And I do feel like the effects of wine have this communication enhanced and bonding experience. However, each person experiences different alcohols differently. Wine is full of antioxidants and polyphenols. Usually red wine would have more of those than white. Wine also tends to be higher in sugar than other drinks. Wine is known to have health benefits but those benefits are only applicable when you have a glass or two, not so much if you go for a whole bottle. 

Dark Liquor. Whiskey, bourbon, scotch and other darker liquors would be included in this category. Darker liquors usually have a higher amount of toxins. That means that your liver will have to work harder to process it and if you drink a lot chances are there might be a case of a hangover in the morning.  

Clear Liquor.  That will be vodka, tequila, gin and other clear drinks. These drinks will be digested easier than the dark ones and they also have lowest calories and sugar and is one of the easier ones for your body to metabolize. That is if you drink it straight and don’t add a sugary mixer. Duh. 

So we now know the effects alcohol can have on your body, you may have decided to switch to a different drink after reading about different alcohols or reinforced your decision to stay with your current drink of choice. Next question is…

How can you make it healthier? 

There are so many mixers on the market. A lot of them are full of sugar that you probably would want to avoid in large amounts.  So how can you make it better? 

Using club soda or sparkling water for a mixer won’t get you properly hydrated, so you should still drink water parallel to that, but as a mixer it’s a great, clean and 0 calorie benevage to add. Berries can provide natural flavors and will make it taste delicious with low calories and natural sugars and vitamins. 

healthier alcoholic beverage

Some other mixers that can be good:
-Natural Juices (orange, cranberry, lime or lemon)
-Ginger Ale
-Flavored bubble water like LaCroix
-Extra ice to add some water
-Coconut Water

And for the flavor enhancements:
-Veggies(cucumbers go well with vodka drinks)
-Matcha powder
-herbs for toppings.

If you decide to make a cocktail out of some of the ingredients above, let me know how it goes. And don’t forget to drink responsibly and safely. 



By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio