Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Oct

Choose Your Booze: A Guide to Healthy Drinking

alcoholicbeverages2It’s the question every Primal adherent faces: how does alcohol fit into a low carb lifestyle? Maybe you’re out with friends, bravely resisting the assorted chips and fried concoctions in the center of the table. You don’t mind waiting patiently for the steak and salad you conscientiously selected, but must you be relegated to the likes of club soda and tap water? What would happen exactly if you ordered, well, a “drink-drink”? A nice glass of red wine perhaps? Hmmm…maybe that’s too much to ask at a place where onion blooms are a specialty…. A mixed drink? You begin reminiscing about those great sidecars your best friendused to make. Maybe a shot? That’s simple enough, isn’t it? How about those memories? Well, maybe we’ll fast forward through those recollections. Beer? Beer belly. What about a light beer? They’re low in carbs, right? Whatever the case, you presume there’s no Guinness in your future tonight. Or? Sigh. Now you really need something. What’s a Primal type to do when it comes to a simple social drink?

Indeed, there are some legitimate scientific reasons to enjoy alcohol in moderation. Alcohol as a blood thinner enhances vascular health, and the phenolic content (potent antioxidants) can pack a healthy punch. Research has compared alcohol abstention with moderate and “heavy” drinking. Moderate alcohol consumption appears (PDF) to lower the incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, total and ischaemic stroke, as well as result in an overall reduction in mortality. And it seems older folks have the most to gain. Not only do they appear to benefit the most from a vascular health standpoint, research has linked moderate drinking in those over 65 with superior cognitive and memory function. It has also been linked to higher bone density in postmenopausal women. (There are still cautions, however, for those with a history or high risk of breast cancer or haemorrhagic stroke.)

Although we can likely obtain the same vascular benefits from fish oil and a low carb, high antioxidant diet (and through supplementation), there’s nothing wrong (and perhaps something to be gained) with the occasional drink, provided you’re someone who tolerates alcohol well. Not everyone does, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With that said…

When it comes to alcohol itself, there’s no reason a low-carber can’t indulge. Alcohol isn’t metabolized as a carbohydrate product, and it doesn’t send your blood sugar shooting upward. (It might actually lower it.) The body sends alcohol to the liver where it becomes first in line as an active energy source rather than stored glycogen. As long as you aren’t looking to lose weight, a modest drink here or there shouldn’t make much of a difference. If you’re looking to lose weight, however, we’d suggest avoiding alcohol all together. Alcohol doesn’t offer anything you can’t gain from a healthy Primal Blueprint diet, and you won’t have extra calories standing in the way of fat burning.

At the heart of the alcohol question, however, is a principle we often invoke: wise selectivity. In other words, not all drinks are created equal. Number junkies can check out the USDA’s breakdown of alcoholic beverages and brands (PDF) or scan a quick snapshot poster (PDF) put together by the Consumer Federation of American some years ago. It highlights several of the highest selling varieties and gives both calories and carb counts.

For our part, however, we thought we’d serve up our own PB-inspired alcohol hierarchy to assist you in the art of Primal indulgence.

Top Shelf

Red Wine

winepour

We’re not talking specially colored labels or price tags here of course. We mean the biggest health benefit with the fewest carbs and additives. The pinnacle, not surprisingly, is red wine. Research has supported time and again the impressive polyphenol power of red wine.

Another bonus with red? Resveratrol – that super antioxidant, able to combat cancer and reduce signs of aging, among other feats.

Any red (other than port) offers high antioxidant power with somewhere around 3-5 grams of carbs, however differences exist even in this top tier of Primal imbibing. Research has demonstrated that organic red wine boasts higher antioxidant and resveratrol content as well as lower OTA mycotoxin contamination (a common red wine contaminant defined by the European Scientific Committee for Food as “having carcinogenic, nephrotoxic, teratogenic, immunotoxic, and probably neurotoxic effects.”).

The same research showed that basic table wine had less antioxidant power than Controlled Denomination of Origin brands. In terms of USDA ORAC value research (PDF), Cabernet trumped red table varieties (5034 versus 3873 units per 100 grams), but red in general trumped white. Go for richer, higher quality reds, and seek out organic if you can.

Respectable Middling Choices

Wood Aged Spirits (particularly Whiskey, Brandy, Scotch and Cognac)

whiskey

An underappreciated class, we’d say. Unflavored distilled spirits in general are a low-carbers dream. What could be better than zero carbs? Well, how about zero carbs with a kick of antioxidants? Research has found impressive antioxidant activity in Bourbon whiskey, Armagnac brandy and cognac.

In fact, whiskey contains more ellagic acid, a free radical fighter, than red wine. Wood aging, researchers believe, confer the benefits of high phenol and furan concentration.

The research has been less clear about the health benefits of other wood aged spirits, including dark rum and 100% agave tequila. Although agave itself has been linked with cancer-fighting properties, it’s disputed whether these properties are fully present or potent in the tequila form. Furthermore, one small study found that a daily serving of tequila during a 30-day period decreased insulin sensitivity.

Berry Daiquiri (Primal Style)

berrysmoothie

Surprise! What do you get when you add alcohol to berries? Try a thirty percent hike in antioxidant activity!Researchers stumbled upon the finding while trying to find alternative means of preserving fruit. Note: they happened to use strawberries and blackberries. For a true Primal version, skip the sugar and syrup, and go easy on the lemon/lime juice. Add crushed ice to the pureed berries and liquor, and you’ve got yourself a respectably healthy dessert drink. (For an even bigger boost, make brandied berries.)

White Wines

whitewine

Sure, red wines generally contain about five to ten times more phenols than white wines. And as for resveratrol? Nada. If you’re a diehard white wine lover, don’t sweat the occasional glass. You’ll still enjoy a healthful dose of antioxidants for around 3-5 grams of carbs.

Light Beers

lightbeer

Beer, like wine, offers polyphenol power. According to research, beer seems to hold its own with white wine in terms of antioxidant activity. As for carb content, light beers vary generally between 3-6 grams (although a few like Michelob are more than 11) and contain around 90-100 calories.

Bottom Shelf to Bottom of the Barrel

Other Spirits (Vodka, Gin, Clear Rum)

liquor

As mentioned, unflavored spirits don’t come with carbs, and the alcohol content itself can boost vascular health. Nonetheless, these varieties don’t offer much in the way of antioxidant benefit either.

Hard Cider

cider

Hard cider offers an impressive and healthy antioxidant boost, but the carbs typically measure around 15 grams per glass. As good as hard cider is, we’d suggest skipping the Strongbow and eating a heftier salad.

Regular Beer

beer

As mentioned, beer offers an antioxidant boost, but at 10-15 grams of carbs we think there are better choices to be had. (And, by the way, the basic Guinness variety falls into this category. The calorie and carb count for beer can often be deceiving. Darker and heavier doesn’t always equate to more calories and carbs, and vice versa. It might be worth looking up if you aren’t sure.)

Creamy/Dark/Stout or Rich Microbrew Beer

stout

We know it’s tasty (especially a good microbrew), but those 15-25 grams of carbs just aren’t worth it.

Sugar Swill

tropicaldrinks

All right – this is admittedly the fun one, but did anyone really expect us to promote the likes of Jello shots and mudslides? Let’s see what else we can add here: hard lemonade, packaged or otherwise sweetened hard liquor drinks like Smirnoff Ice, Fuzzy Navels, etc. (This is reading like a bad Spring Break story.) And then there are the cordials. And the liqueurs: Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Irish cream drinks, Kahlua (sorry Lebowski fans), Frangelico. You could be looking at at least 15 grams all the way up to a whopping 40-some grams of added sugar. (No wonder The Dude spent so much time in that wrap around robe.) Add to that American schnapps varieties. (The Germans, Czechs and others do true schnapps without added sugar.) Finally, keep your distance from any packaged mixers. The labels say it all: high fructose corn syrup, colorants and all manner of preservatives and stabilizers. (Now there’s a recipe for a hangover….)

A word about mixers…

soda

You know to skip the 7Up, Coke, etc., but even much beloved tonic water sets you back nearly 90 calories. Keep it simple, and drink straight up. If you need water, go for a light tasting mineral water, seltzer or club soda.

However Primally compatible any beverage might be, we don’t intend this as an endorsement to drink on a regular basis. As mentioned, a good diet can offer the same nutritional benefits and then some. You aren’t missing out if you choose to abstain, and we’d recommend it, in fact, if you’re in weight loss mode. For an otherwise healthy individual, red wine or – more occasionally – other low carb drink choices can certainly fit into the Primal 80/20 principle. It’s ultimately about making an educated choice among the many options and then being perceptive to your body’s response. It’s that good old Primal lens at work. For all of you who have been looking for an excuse to enjoy, bottom’s up!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions. Have questions or want to share how alcohol fits into your Primal practice? If you enjoy the occasional libation what do you usually reach for and why? Thanks for reading.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Hey Mark, how do you feel about the high hop levels found in certain microbrews? Hops are a known anti-carcinogen.

    Dan wrote on October 19th, 2011
  2. I strongly disagree with the hierarchy on this page.

    Craft Beer and particularly Stouts and dark ales should be the top of the list as far as healthy choices:

    ” 1. Drinking beer is good for your liver! Drinkers of beer can get rid of poisonous heavy metals like lead and copper up to five times more effectively than tee-totalers. Alcohol causes the small blood vessels in the liver to expand which speeds up metabolism. (Beer Net Publication, April 2001 Biological Institute, University of Charkov, Prof. Anatolij Bohkov)

    2. It lowers your risk of heart attacks. Those drinking beer on a daily basis, averaging 4-9 litres of beer per week, have the lowest rate of heart attacks. Their risk is approximately 50% lower when compared to non-drinkers. (Bobak et al 2000; Hoffmeister et al 1999; Kitamura et al 1998).

    3. It prevents cholesterol from oxidizing. Hop compounds xanthohumol and quercetin, both strong antioxidants are very effective in their ability to prevent LDL (the bad form of cholesterol) from oxidation. When LDL is oxidised it will be laid down on the artery wall causing them to narrow, thus increasing the chances of blockage and heart attacks (Miranda et al 2000). Antioxidants are thought to be able to quench and inactivate the free radicals, which may cause the types of cellular damage that can lead to both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.

    4. It boosts your antioxidant levels. Recent studies have turned its attention to the anti-oxidative role of plant polyphenols in general, their beneficial influence on various aspects of health and in particular, their role in dealing with dangerous free radicals within the body. Analysis can show how much of these good compounds are in beer- but can it be absorbed (called bioavailability) by humans and hence have a positive effect on health? Yes! The malt-derived antioxidant ferulic acid is 100% absorbed by humans (compared to 11-25% absorption of ferulic acid from a tomato). The total level of antioxidants in the blood increased significantly after just a single glass of ale, again proving that antioxidants in beer are well absorbed (Ghiselli et al 2000) Not that any person in his right mind would settle for just a single glass!

    5. It boosts vitamin B6; B12; folate and mineral levels. If compared to wine and spirits, beer is the only beverage that contains significant levels of vitamins. High homocysteine (Hcy) levels in the blood are associated with increased risk of CVD. Vitamins like B6; B12 and especially folate (all naturally occurring in beer) are now recommended as part of doctors orders to be taken daily to control elevated levels of Hcy (Walker, BRI, 2001). The minerals in beer come from both the malt and the brewing liquor. The beneficial ratio of potassium to sodium is particularly important in relation to cardiovascular disease.

    6. Keeps homocysteine (Hcy) levels low. Van der Gaag and his colleagues found that drinking wine and spirits increased serum Hcy levels, where as, counteracted by folates and vitamin B6, beer consumption had no influence. A clear case of beer should be first for thirst!

    7. Drinking beer boosts your soluble fibre intake and lowers cholesterol. One of the most effective forms of soluble fibre for lowering cholesterol is betaglucan, which is the predominant form of fibre in beer. Beers with high malt content like craft beers may provide up to 30% of the recommended daily fibre intake (Gromes et al 2000).

    8. Drinking beer help in combating cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other immune system attacking diseases. Hops contain compounds that are unique and rare in nature –like prenyl flavonoids (8PN) which are phytoestrogens that are natural plant based compounds, which mimics the natural oestrogens in the body (Bingham et al 1998). The highest 8PN levels in beers have been found in dark and bitter ales and stouts and from craft breweries where whole hopping is practised.

    9. Beer ensures healthy bones. Beer has a nutritional benefit that promotes healthy bones and connective tissue (Dr Jonathan Powell, Kings College, London). Because of the brewing process, silicon is leached from barley grain in a form that is readily accessible to the body.

    10. Beer protects against gallstones. Prof. Oliver James, from the school of clinical medical studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, says that beer protect against gallstones, kidney stones and the bacterium Heliobacter pylori, which is directly linked to stomach ulcers and cancer.

    11. Hoppy beer protects against cataracts. Certain hop flavonoids, in particular xanthohumol and its isomerised form isoxanthohumol, can show positive effects against heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, cataracts and certain forms of cancer.

    12. Beer promotes sleep. A famous vitaminologist Professor Steep from Germany prescribes beer (not drugs) for insomnia. Two vitamins, lactoflavin and nicotinic acid that are present in beer are the secret weapons that promote sleep. The same two vitamins also speed up bone degeneration after a fracture and prevent low blood counts. Hops in beer itself is a natural sedative that also promotes sleep.

    13. Beer reduces risk of thrombosis The flavonoids that are present in roasted malt, also to a lesser extent in hops and barley, prevent blood platelets from clamping together –making the blood less sticky – therefore decreasing your risk of blood clotting that can cause heart attacks or thrombosis. “

    Tim wrote on November 1st, 2011
    • WOW I don’t know if you’re actually profiting through beer sales, but you convinced me!!

      I came in here to ask Mark what he suggests I should drink: I’m small and I get easily buzzed, especially now that I’ve gone primal and also I’ve abstained from alcohol for a year..

      Red wine leaves a bad taste and also gets me a headache..Whiskeys taste disgusting (unless mixed with amaretto or something sweet therefore no chance I guess)..And my ever favorite cocktails like pina coladas and mojitos got too much sugar..

      SO, Mark, would you agree that beer is as good as this guy says? Considering the low alcohol content, it does sound like the best choice (I was avoiding it because of gluten)

      Theodora wrote on December 9th, 2011
    • Almost ALL of the benefits you propose we’re beer drinkers vs. non-drinkers. How do the benefits stack up if compared to wine drinkers, spirit drinkers, ect.?

      Then it becomes more complicated.

      Drumroll wrote on December 21st, 2012
  3. I’m with you guys. I’m really strict with my diet 6 days a week but once a week I go out with my girlfriends and we get some drinks with dinner. I did some research and found that vodka with a club soda tends to be the lowest calorie mix out there. I specifically use Voli because it’s the lowest in calories and also has some electrolytes. If I’m going to have a drink that what I get.

    Julie wrote on November 2nd, 2011
  4. So true. I’ve used voli before too, lemon flavaored is my fav…for some good cocktail mixes.

    Selena wrote on November 4th, 2011
  5. I used to be a big fan of cocktails until i found out that the sugar content in most of the drinks i was sipping had over 30g+ Recently i got into vodka that mixes into a cocktail drink with low calories. Sugar content is low as well. Check it out. Voli Vodka, http://bit.ly/sW80EH

    Michael wrote on November 4th, 2011
  6. For sure, Voli spirits are the bomb. Here are some more healthy drinking recipes as well http://bit.ly/fPDtNZ

    Achmed wrote on November 4th, 2011
  7. Hi Mark,

    LOVE the Daily Apple!

    How about alcohol-free beer, how would it rank on your list?

    Thanks!

    Nuno

    nuno h luz wrote on November 8th, 2011
  8. This is amusing and fun, but beer is not gluten-free, even though many people like to pretend it is.

    I like your recommendation for wine and the hard stuff and tequila. If I suggest people do Paleo for a month in On-Ramp and give up their liquid bread (beer), they are far more likely to try it if they can drink other stuff. A couple of weeks of truly gluten-free living makes a big impression on a fair proportion of our athletes. Trying to suggest people stop drinking altogether would make people give up before they even start!

    Vanessa wrote on November 15th, 2011
  9. living in Belgium at the moment where amazing dark craft beer is plenty and French wine is cheap is no easy task. Now that it’s -2 out there I have 2 glasses of red with lunch and go biking round town. But I sure miss my 2x week St Bernardus…

    Marcela Tizo wrote on December 4th, 2011
  10. Hi,

    I’ve been on a low carb diet for a Month now and it’s been a month since my last drink since I’m trying to lose weight. The thing is, I’m Irish and love Guinness. I am deeply saddened to find out that it’s high in carbs, though the exact amount is unconclusive from my research. It really depends on where it’s brewed, as well as whether it’s bottled, canned, or extra stout or draft (I actually found this site on the day of my last Guinness searching if it was ok to drink Guinness). I’ve only lost around 1.5 kilos in the month so I don’t think the diet is as effective for me as most people. Still though, it’s working.
    The thing is, it’s now the season of the Xmas parties and it’ll be very difficult to abstain, especially when all the friends are home for Xmas. The month off had been difficult and I’ve stayed in the house as going out watching everyone else party isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
    On a good night out it would be typical to consume 12-14 pints of Guinness and I’m very worried that this will seriously set me back. If I continue to eat high fat will these carbs make me store it all? Even if I limit it to one night a week (or maybe 2 every 2nd weekend)? Would I be better to go back to my normal diet consuming minimal fat during this period to avoid storing it? I’ve been really looking forward to few a ‘Vitamine G’ all month!

    Any advice that would allow this would be a dream.

    Seasons greetings,

    Irish Jack

    Irish_Jack wrote on December 9th, 2011
    • Ummmm…12-14 pints in a night? I know this is a huge stereotype for Irish men to drink themselves to death but I didn’t think it was THIS real.

      I don’t care what country you’re from. Drinking 14 pints of beer on a regular basis, even once a week, is called alcoholism. You need help. My advice is for you to drink zero alcohol until you don’t have the cravings to binge drink anymore at all.

      Iris wrote on December 9th, 2011
      • While it may be hard to believe, many of us simply have a high tolerance for alcohol. I’m very careful not to drink myself into oblivion but I have caught myself consuming 3/4 of a bottle of rum in an evening, and yes i was intoxicated but i felt mostly tired (no stumbling or spinning). Generally I have a drink or two a night, but skip nights, weeks, or even months just because i dont feel like it. If my Irish brother above is consuming 14 pints in one night and doesnt continue to drink all week long then he is NOT an alcoholic. It certainly not good for weight loss, but doesnt equal alcoholism.

        My father was an alcoholic and eventually drank himself to death at 56. A typical day for him consisted of a case (24 cans) of beer and anywhere from 2 to 4 5ths of southern comfort, and it started the moment he woke up. I dont think you’ve witnessed alcoholism before.

        Ryan wrote on December 15th, 2011
  11. This is totally value packed. I was so misguided. I love hennessy(cognac) but had this idea that it was heavy in carbs for some reason. Also underestimated the carbs in beer. Will definitely pay attention to what I order next time I’m out drinking.

    Mike wrote on December 28th, 2011
  12. Hey guys. If you want a list and info about REAL beer and how it fits into a paleo lifestyle check out http://www.itsbetterwithbeer.com

    It’s a record (still in progress…day 77) of a year of 365 Crossfit wods and 365 quality craft beers while eating within Paleo restrictions (minus the beer obviously).

    It’s not so black and white.

    Kristin wrote on January 10th, 2012
  13. What about eating before you drink? I just started the Primal Blueprint, and I feel great. It’s a shock to my system, and after day 4, I stopped craving all the bad things I used to eat. However, I am Irish, and I do drink once or twice a week. Before going Primal, I’d load up on breads and rice, things like that, to keep my stomach calm.. but now, I don’t know what to do! I understand I should just collect my losses and go on with life. But, are there any Primals out there that drink like an Irish man? What do you eat before you drink?

    Rebel_Conservative wrote on June 8th, 2012
  14. Well, I hope a few light beers won’t do too much damage because after the say I have had I am quite certain that all 5 of the miller lites In my fridge will be gone tonight :)

    Jena wrote on June 14th, 2012
  15. Stout, Porter, and Wiskey. If it doesn’t fall in to one of those categories I’d rather have water. I can do Rum and Tequila at least, Vodka and Gin do not sit well with me, not only do I feel like crap later but I get wasted off barely any.

    Morghan wrote on June 28th, 2012
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    due to it’s pleasant posts

    treatment of cancer wrote on July 7th, 2012
  17. Isn’t most beer made from grains which we’re not supposed to eat anyway? In that context I would say drink the cider over the beer no?

    JesseJe wrote on July 10th, 2012
  18. Moderate alcohol consumption may benefit women’s bone health and lower their risk of developing osteoporosis.
    http://www.besthealthmag.ca/blog/post/news-can-alcohol-improve-bone-health

    Animanarchy wrote on July 14th, 2012
  19. Red wine is oh, so fine. Beer is the enemy! (I let him win for a little bit when it’s hot out…HA!)

    Jim W wrote on August 9th, 2012
  20. I want to try mead.
    Got Mead says “The Norse sagas are littered with mead references, as are many of the old Celtic tales.”
    I’m of Swedish, Scottish, and English heritage and I love honey. Convinced this a good enough basis to try mead beyond curiosity.

    Animanarchy wrote on August 9th, 2012
  21. What about meade?

    William wrote on October 2nd, 2012
    • “mead”

      William wrote on October 2nd, 2012
  22. Hi Mark.
    I do agree that alcohol has some benefits for the human body but overall, it seems that so many studies indicate that the net effect is more detrimental.

    Your comments are appreciated.

    Saeed wrote on October 3rd, 2012
  23. White Russians are not good for us?! Grok is a real reactionary, man. That mastodon fur really tied the cave together…

    skunkbear wrote on October 3rd, 2012
  24. I have just finished Lesson 7, and efore going fully primal,I need to knwo how it would affect my standardised lunch of homemade lunchs more so than my night out. I eat like a Provincial Queen at lunch, Chicken Chasseur or Cacciatore, Beef Bourguignon/ &Guiness and was concerned I might have to sacrifice this amazing tasting food But this post has shown me I can stil eat like a Queen at lunch without too much sacrificed.. Beef and Guiness maybe once a month

    Nicoll wrote on October 28th, 2012
  25. According to Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Diet Solution, the only “Paleo Friendly” buzz is the infamous “Nor-Cal Margarita”. It is as follows….
    2 shots of gold tequila
    Juice of one lime (the whole damn thing!)
    Splash of soda water

    Drink one or two of these on an empty stomach early in your evening.Wrap up the night with some protein and fat, and you are set. You socialized, got your head changed, and didn’t do too much damage to yourself. There is also some chemistry behind the recommendations. The lime juice blunts the insulin release and the carbon dioxide in the soda act as what’s called a “nonpolar solvent”. This extracts the alcohol from the drink and delivers it to your system much faster. Better living through good chemistry! Alcohol is not paleo. This is your best choice if you choose to drink. Most beer is loaded with gluten. The dry red wines have less sugar.

    Marshall Stephenson wrote on January 5th, 2013
  26. What about champagne and prosseco Mark?

    Rayan wrote on January 19th, 2013
  27. Um most beer contains gluten so i really don’t think it makes for a healthy choice at all. Mark isn’t gluten an addictive anti-nutrient? I have noticed regular beer drinkers always look like their skin is sooo dry & red whilst regular wine drinkers, particularily red wine drinkers look like they have a healthier skin colour compared to beer drinkers, also wine drinkers have skin that looks just as moist as those who don’t drink. I suppose this helps to show that beer does inhibit nutrient absorbtion? whilst red wine doesn’t? Since our skin is our bigest organ. For those that hate wine let me say there are many different tasting red wine so i would suggest people sample a few before declaring they hate red wine. Same goes for the second best choice which is white wine. If people try a huge variety of red/white wines and are still replused THEN go to gluten free beer.Regular beer is made from barley. A GLUTENOUS GRAIN! & we all know what damage thise do.

    Ben wrote on February 5th, 2013
  28. Hi Mark,
    I heard that on a Primal Diet, Hard Cider was better than beer because it’s gluten free. Is this true?

    Clara wrote on February 17th, 2013
  29. This is good news, I love my wine and whiskey.

    Bob wrote on March 9th, 2013
  30. Alcohol has been part of human culture for longer than was officially believed, apparently. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/alcohol-s-neolithic-origins-brewing-up-a-civilization-a-668642.html

    9,000 years ago isn’t quite Paleo (though it misses Late Paleo by an eyelash) but the archeological evidence of mead brewing from that era, already refined to an active cultural art and science, means that 9000 years ago was not the very dawn of alcohol discovery and use by humans. So quite likely, it was going on, before that, as well, and could reasonably be assumed to be part of Late Paleolithic cultures; at least some of them. We are limited to what archeological evidence has been found.

    It seems pointless to me to argue about whether a Paleolithic person might possibly have enjoyed alcohol (and therefore, draw conclusions about whether alcohol is “primal” enough to be healthy) when we have solid enough science showing that for some individuals, moderate alcohol intake is indeed healthy, (with measurable benefits to blood pressure, blood viscosity, cognitive health, and so forth), and for some individuals, the harm seems to outweigh any benefits.

    I don’t think we are all alike. Epigenetics allows for more rapid differentiation of subgroups than previous understandings of human evolution allowed for. We know that descendants of certain tribes of First Peoples in North America, whose ancestors lived healthfully on beans, squash, and maize primarily, with far less meat than their herd-following contemporaries enjoyed, aren’t healthy at all on a diet that strays too far from what their ancestors were healthy on, and their health is optimized, apparently, when they return to their ancestral diet, which was a far cry from the diet of the herd-followers.

    In other words, there is no one universal human “best” for everyone, even genetically. Food and medicines that help a descendant of one group, can be harmful to a descendant of another group. One person’s genetic blueprint may reflect very different reactions to the same inputs, from another’s.

    So I totally respect each person seeking out their own “Grok” to attempt to follow, for better health. Not as easy when most of us are such amalgams of so many different groups, but that’s when you get down to seeing for yourself, what makes you feel healthier, and making decisions on your own, instead of making decisions based on what someone else says. And then stepping back and allowing for the possibility that someone else’s “healthiest” may not be yours, and that doesn’t necessarily make one of you wrong.

    Meg wrote on March 11th, 2013
  31. How about vodkas that aren’t grain based? Such as coconut vodkas or grape vodkas? Haven’t tried them but would like to … Any opinions?

    Karen wrote on May 26th, 2013
  32. Please do not include herbal distilled products with vodka. Most herbal distilled products like absinthe and gin were originally medicinal due to their high herb bill. Alcohol was purely the preservative. Fortified wine products like vermouth are also in this category. I may need to trot over to the lab to test out products for antioxidant properties. And realize today’s conventional gins may not have much but more traditionally prepared liquor s are a basket from the garden in a drink. See Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist.

    Karen wrote on December 9th, 2013
  33. did you say alcohol improves vascular health???since when?

    ri wrote on December 30th, 2013
  34. Hey, Mark –

    Just saw this today and thought of you.

    http://jezebel.com/tequila-will-help-us-all-lose-weight-says-most-perfect-1546868806

    Jen wrote on March 19th, 2014
  35. I’m surprised to see grain-based alcohols recommended. My autoimmune issues require me to stick to non-grain-based alternatives.

    Bobby wrote on May 12th, 2014
  36. No, forget organic anything, it’s all greenwashing bunk. Check out Scientific American’s article “Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture” It’s a real eye opener. No, when it comes to wine, you want biodynamic.

    Lulz wrote on July 22nd, 2014

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