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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 20, 2014

Self-Experiment: No Alcohol for 45 Days and Counting

By Mark Sisson
214 Comments

Wine GlassI’ve always had gut issues – IBS and related challenges. In fact, the diarrhea, bloating, gut pain, gas, and the assorted other embarrassing IBS symptoms that make life truly difficult are what led me to this lifestyle. Getting rid of grains at age 47 was life-changing, and even as gluten deniers are becoming more vocal I will adamantly stand by that shift as one of the most important Primal behaviors anyone can adopt. I went from waking up everyday in pain most of my life, having to be continuously aware that an episode might occur at any time, and planning my daily excursions away from home based on where I knew there might be a (satisfactory) public bathroom, to feeling freedom from that cramping and pain, and being able to travel without trepidation. Adding probiotics like Primal Flora helped “regulate” me even more.

But even up to a few months ago I still would notice the occasional gut issues arising once in a while, mostly just in the morning, and mostly fully resolved after going to the bathroom a few times. So, as comfortable as I felt 98% of the time, I still wondered why that would happen at all, if in fact I had done everything I needed to do to fully “heal” my gut, or to at least unburden myself from any further severe gut pains.

For a while, I thought it might be lingering stress that was causing these irregular bouts of intestinal distress. I have often shared here how I don’t think I handle stress that well (even though I know a ton about the deleterious effects of stress – maybe I worry too much about worrying). It’s often said that people carry their stress in their gut, so that made sense to me on some level. And since research shows that psychological stress has directly deleterious effects on the gut itself, there was scientific plausibility. One of the reasons I decided to drink a glass or two of wine each night was to wind down after a stressful day. And that seemed to work very well for me. I came to cherish that end of the day routine, the pop of a cork, the click of the glasses, the quiet hour or two spent with Carrie winding down the day and sipping together. I swear I could feel the stress leaving my body.

My justification for drinking what amounts to a poison was that maybe the stress-reducing effects of wine outweigh the negative consequences of ethanol for some people. I assumed it was the case for me. But then there was always that little voice asking if I’d done everything to address this lingering gut issue, and maybe there was a connection between ethanol and gut health.

So I decided to look.

Obviously, a binge is bad. Recent research shows that it’s bad for our guts. Acute bouts of moderate-to-high dose ethanol administration (4-5 drinks in a short period of time, or whatever it took to raise subjects’ blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 in an hour) increase intestinal permeability and allow endotoxins to slip into the bloodstream to causes systemic inflammation. (Of course, there’s no mention of food intake. If the subjects drank vodka on an empty stomach, the results may not be applicable to someone having four glasses of wine with their meal. Alcohol absorption and toxicity increase rapidly on an empty stomach, and I’m not drinking like that. I take my wine with my meal, or after.)

But what if even moderate alcohol consumption – the “healthy” way that I’ve been doing for years – could affect the gut negatively?

Well…

There’s physiological precedent. Ethanol directly increases permeability in epithelial cells. So when you drink a glass of wine (or scotch, or vodka) and expose your gut to ethanol, tight junction leakiness increases. Plus, just like our livers metabolize alcohol into the extremely toxic acetaldehyde, gut bacteria themselves metabolize alcohol into acetaldehyde. This can also cause tight junctions to grow more leaky.

There’s clinical precedent. Moderate wine consumption (1-3 glasses a day) caused relapse and increased leaky gut in patients with inactive inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That wasn’t me – I “just” had IBS – but it’s relevant because a small amount of wine consumed regularly was enough to hamper recovery.

Moderate (1 drink per day for women, 2 for men) is also associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, a common cause of gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Meanwhile, another study out of Spain found that moderate red wine drinking led to increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria. It seems contradictory, but red wine contains polyphenols which can act as prebiotics for gut flora, whereas the first study failed to distinguish between different types of alcohol. “Alcohol” could have been a shot of gin, a can of PBR, or a thimble of moonshine.

There was evidence that alcohol could have negative effects on the gut, albeit in other people. It was time to experiment on myself.

So I dropped alcohol entirely. No wine at night, even after a stressful day. That was 45 days ago. I’ve only had a couple glasses of wine here and there as challenges to test my progress and see what’s changed.

What have I noticed?

I have a theory that once we clean up our act by going Primal, once we’ve gotten great results by sticking to the plan, we then sometimes try to “see what we can get away with” in terms of reintroducing non-Primal fare. This is totally normal, and I do it too. In my case, I know that I don’t store fat easily, so I can get away with eating more safe starches or fruit than most people. I generally don’t do that, but I know I could anytime I wanted. On the other hand, I know that anything with gluten will rear its ugly head if I do too much. I know where the line is (say, two small bites of fresh sourdough bread slathered in butter on a restaurant plate, but not four) and yet I sometimes still see what I can get away with. Maybe it’s a eating a little chili with beans, some edamame at a sushi restaurant or a handful of peanuts. I know my limits.

I suspect that there was something more than hormetic about my consumption of ethanol combined with whatever normal gut challenges I might allow myself on those occasions, such as a little bread here or there or an increased legume intake. Rather than being an acute stressor that promoted a stronger compensatory recovery, I suspect daily wine was having an additive effect on the integrity of my gut which, over time, prevented complete recovery. This constant moderate exposure to a toxin that’s already hard on the gut made those intermittent challenges (the sourdough, the beans, a particularly stressful day or hard workout) to the gut’s integrity even more damaging.

Since I’ve been on this experiment about six weeks, I do feel as if I’ve reached a new level in gut comfort. My gut issues, although almost entirely resolved on Primal, have become nonexistent. When I challenge myself with a gut-irritant like bread, my discomfort threshold is higher. And I’m figuring out other ways to deal with end of day stress that don’t involve alcohol. Who knew that you could mimic the other aspects of the ritual – relaxing with your significant other after a great meal and talking about your day – and get the same benefits without opening a bottle of Zin?

I’ve noticed other changes, too.

With two glasses of red wine at night (say, from 6-7:30 pm), I’ll fall asleep easily when it’s bedtime, but often wake up at 2 or 3 am and have a tough time going back to sleep. Without wine (or with a small single glass early) this past month and a half, I’ve generally been sleeping comfortably through the night.

Now, I’m not anti-alcohol. There’s a time and a place, the good and the bad, and many people can enjoy it without incurring major negative effects. But I do think we in the ancestral health community tend to give it too free a free pass. We use a few cursory references about polyphenols, maybe an observational study or two on mortality and alcohol intake, and throw in the word “hormesis” and leave it at that. So today, I’m suggesting that you guys give an alcohol-free trial run just to see if you notice any improvements. It’s tinkering on the margins of health, but sometimes the margins hold the most promise for the otherwise healthy.

Because until we do give it up, we won’t know. Remember how you felt about grains and sugar and vegetable oils before you got into Primal – how you “felt fine” until you removed them and realized you had been suffering all along?

So I’m pretty sure I won’t go back to two glasses a night from here. I’ll likely do one glass a few times a week and maybe two glasses on special occasions.

Let’s hear from you guys. Have you ever given up alcohol or noticed an interaction with the integrity of your gut? Will you try a no-alcohol experiment?

Thanks for reading!

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214 Comments on "Self-Experiment: No Alcohol for 45 Days and Counting"

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NOLA Paleo (new orleans)
2 years 4 months ago

I actually started my own no alcohol experiment on Sunday. I didn’t drink often and usually had issues after I did partake in even the smallest amounts. New Orleans is a hard city to live in without alcohol. I’ve managed without the MSG ladened crawfish for four years so I think I’ll manage the lack of alcohol for a bit.

Nothing is better than self assessment occassionally!

Dubs
Dubs
2 years 4 months ago

Whose crawfish has MSG added? I’ve never known anyone to do that.

NOLA Paleo (new orleans)
2 years 4 months ago
I’m extremely allergic to MSG and haven’t been able to find it anywhere without. It’s in almost all the store bought boil seasoning mixes. You can buy a brand from Whole Foods but it is for 1lb of crawfish…I’d have to buy more than they stock on the shelves for just my serving. But it’s also in all liquid boil as well. I did call around recently and found a place that said they didn’t use MSG. After I got a 4 day migraine, I called them and said that I was told they didn’t use MSG but they were… Read more »
James
James
2 years 4 months ago
WHOA! A NOLA PALEO Group!? Not drinking is tough around these parts. I usually keep a box of wine on the shelf, but some friends brew delicious beer with things like their own loquat tree, and I have a particular predilection for scotch and bourbon, already. I also noticed anecdotal evidence that last time I gave up alcohol for 8 weeks (in the fall), afterwards when I’d drink even 1 or 2 (liquor, wine or beer didn’t matter), I’d wake up in the night and not get as restful of sleep around 2 or 3am. After a few months that… Read more »
NOLA Paleo (new orleans)
2 years 4 months ago

Yep, NOLA Paleo is a facebook group that has over 500 very active members! Please join us if you’re in the area.

Shary
Shary
2 years 4 months ago
I rarely drink any kind of alcohol for the same reasons listed in the article. It’s almost guaranteed to trigger an IBS episode. Since I don’t drink and don’t do much in the way of grains, it was a bit difficult to pinpoint what else could be causing my occasional GI issues. I discovered it was the cheapie fat/oil that is sometimes used in restaurant cooking, specifically things like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, fake butter, and various other strong-tasting, weirdo fats that nobody uses at home. Fortunately, I can usually smell or taste the stuff and will immediately send it… Read more »
Julie
Julie
2 years 4 months ago

I’m with you. I have noticed significant improvements alcohol-free.

Julie
Julie
2 years 4 months ago

I could probably be more detailed about that. I gave up alcohol before I tried primal. The energy I got doing so, the mental acuity I experienced eventually and the improved sleep all inspired me to continue trying “to get better”. To this day I haven’t had the strength of will to eliminate everything for enough time to determine which or how many ingestible items may cause my discomforts. That’s this round of experiments.

Michel
2 years 4 months ago

There is no doubt I feel better completely abstaining from alcohol. Even 1 glass of wine throws off my digestion and sleep. Heartburn and IBS symptoms are guaranteed with more than a glass. So I limit alcohol to social functions only (which isn’t often with 3 kittle kids!) and just view it as one of those things that makes me feel bad that I choose to have only if it’s really worth it.

Cinnamonbite
2 years 4 months ago

I’ve had one drink my entire life, recently. Took about 3 hours but yeah, totally sick.

Anyway, morning IBS symptoms–we all have that. It’s the cortisol spike.

tkm
tkm
2 years 4 months ago

I’ve never had a morning IBS symptom (or any sort of IBS). I have to pee in the morning, asymptomatically, but never had any digestive issues in the morning or heard that that was common, nor have I ever heard about a cortisol/digestive issue connection. Personally, if I had bowel trouble as a result of cortisol spiking, or if I had it every morning, I’d think something was amiss and I’d get it checked out. That doesn’t sound “normal” to me.

Lauren
2 years 4 months ago
I’m actually in the midst of a no alcohol experiment now! I’m about 4 weeks in with a couple weeks to go. This is my second round (I also gave up alcohol for the month of January) I find it not as hard as I thought it would be. I don’t suffer from IBS, so I can’t testify that it has cured my digestion, but it does improve my quality of sleep, decreases residual body fat, and increases my overall productivity! I really enjoy wine and will reintroduce it once my 6 weeks are up, but I have also really… Read more »
Logan P
Logan P
2 years 4 months ago

Mark,

I was listening to a podcast with Jonathan Kiefer (brilliant guy, I’m sure that you’re familiar with his work), and he mentioned that antioxidants from plant sources are not nearly as effective as the body’s primary antioxidant, Glutathione. The precursor for it is zinc and he seems to argue that plants aren’t necessary because of this intrisic anti-oxidant providing capability of whey isolate and meat. What are your thoughts?

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/podcast-transcript-19-carb-back-loading-with-john-kiefer/
http://www.seanhyson.com/blog/backloading-interview-w-kiefer-part-iii

-Logan P

Jason
Jason
2 years 4 months ago

Holy topic hijack batman…..why would he answer this question here in the middle of a post on alcohol??

BlueEyedDevil
BlueEyedDevil
2 years 25 days ago

THe commenter refers to glutathione, a substance the body creates and uses as an anti-oxidant. Alcohol consumption depletes the body’s reserves of glutathione, hence the question.

Smileyprimaljulie
Smileyprimaljulie
2 years 4 months ago

You’ve inspired me, Mark. I’ve been thinking of going alcohol-free for a while now. It’s hard with frequent trips to the ballpark (and no, I drink scotch, not beer, but still!), but I think I’m ready to try it for at least a month and see what happens (or doesn’t!). Thanks!

Siobhan
Siobhan
2 years 4 months ago

I’m in! Or should I say out?

Thijs Hottenhuis
2 years 4 months ago

Mark, I appreciate this article. I have been a drinking man in the past, and since I quit I feel a lot better. The main thing for me was finding other things to make me happy, e.g. sport, travel, and so on… Once I did I never looked back.

Greg
2 years 4 months ago

This is key, for me at least and I’m sure others. I use alcohol to fill a void in my life (happiness). What I realized, when I eat primal with no alcohol, I’m happy and more productive, reaching goals, which in turn makes me happier.

Ralph
Ralph
2 years 4 months ago
Years ago I noticed that “cheaper” wines would make me wake up at 2:00am or 3:00am with my mind racing and unable to get back to sleep for an hour or so. However, “better” wines didn’t seem to cause this problem. In recent years though, I seem to wake up a lot between 2:00-3:00am, and it doesn’t seem to matter if I drank wine that night or not. I never associated alcohol intake with gut issues, but there certainly is the possibility. The amount of gas and bloating I experience is significantly reduced since giving up wheat, eggs, corn, dairy,… Read more »
Michael
Michael
2 years 4 months ago

I definitely agree that cheaper tends to cause more problems. Beer under ~$8 for a 6-pack, wine under ~$12 per bottle, and bourbon under ~$30 per 750mL all play hell with my stomach.

Fortunately, I can drink the good stuff with no ill effects (stomach-wise, that is!)

Jason
Jason
2 years 4 months ago

Cost of the bottle has more effect on your wallet than your sleep/gut. Wine is made from grapes, yeast, sulfites and a fining agent (to a minor degree). Two Buck Chuck is the same a Domaine Romanee Conti as far as the ingredients go, quality and price differ just a bit though!. Now cheap booze and cheap beer on the other hand, that’s a different story…

Georgia
Georgia
2 years 4 months ago

Lucky in Australia there are a million taxes on alcohol, so there’s a natural disincentive to drink a little less. Whilst you can find some really good, really cheap wine, that’s where quality at a low price stops.

michael
michael
2 years 4 months ago

simply the effect on sleep is enough to make me regulate consumption. Sleep is more important than the beer I like to have in the afternoon.

Liminal_luke
Liminal_luke
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks Mark. I think this is an especially courageous post. It´s easy to throw out more info on the negative effects of grains, post a recipe, or poke holes in a study that supports conventional wisdom sponsored by nestle corp. Well, relatively easy. We´re already on board with such things. But to come right out and suggest that people conduct a self-experiment ditching alcohol, well, that´s a whole nother animal.

This is a cutting-edge experiment for many. So thanks for continuing to push.

Michele
Michele
2 years 4 months ago

People often mention how many “glasses” of wine they drink as Mark has. Can anyone tell me how many milliliters Mark means? In Germany we usually go by 0.1 or 0.2 Centiliters as standard.

Chris
Chris
2 years 4 months ago

Most of us in the U.S. pour about 4-5 “glasses” out of a 0.75cl bottle So you’re estimate is right on.

Kyle
Kyle
2 years 4 months ago

I though the metric system was supposed to make things easier!

I think you mean 0.1 or 0.2 liters, no?

0.1 centiliters is 1 ml…

Michele
Michele
2 years 4 months ago
Thank you Chris for the reply. Kyle, yes…my bad…what I meant to say is that here in a restaurant you get a 200 milliliter glass as standard that translates to 20 cl. It gets more interesting though – in Italian restaurants (I’m in Munich), wine is offered at 100 ml, 200 ml, 500 ml…in certain traditional Bavarian places you order “an eightth or a quarter”…. In France (the husband is French), 150 ml is common. All very confusing and sorry to nitpick. So, I will assume that 100 ml is what Mark is referencing and that he was having 100… Read more »
Katherine
Katherine
2 years 3 months ago

Here, a “glass” of wine is typically 5 oz at a restaurant, though home pours tend to be slightly larger. If Mark were having 2 glasses, he was probably drinking 5oz*2 or 10 oz (at least) which is nearly 300 mL.

Anyway, I also notice significant benefits to reducing alcohol consumption:

1. better sleep
2. improved control of SIBO
3. less reflux
4. fewer migraines

Kathy S.
2 years 4 months ago
Get outta my head, Mark Sisson! This article is so timely for me. I’ve had life-long IBS issues, too. Going primal (actually more like paleo, diet-wise, because I can’t do dairy at all) helped a lot, as did an awareness of how many FODMAPs I was eating on any given day. But a few gut issues not only persisted, but seemed to get worse. Finally after months of elimination/challenges I figured out alcohol was the problem. Like you, I loved the routine of it and the relaxation that went along with my usual nightcap (or two), but I liked the… Read more »
Jacob
Jacob
2 years 4 months ago

Not sure about going totally alcohol free….yet…but I am trying to cut it down. My drink of choice is beer, which is a LOT of empty calories. Not good when I’m trying to lose the spare tire.

Erin C
Erin C
2 years 4 months ago
I have done many, many booze-free trials, mostly to try to zero in on my lingering issues (skin problems, chronic fatigue, depressed mood, lack of sex drive, inability to recover after a workout, weight gain). However, it never made a difference. No matter how long I cut it out, consumption of the booze never directly improved my symptoms or made them worse. What did make a difference is the type of alcohol consumed and I was able to test out the individual liquors only because of the elimination process. I can do top-shelf tequila, two brands of rum, three brands… Read more »
Kris10
Kris10
2 years 4 months ago
I like how much experimenting you did with the brands! I might have to do that thorough of an exam on myself. But I’m with you, I like to drink. I’m on day 30 of a Whole30, and I am fantasizing about gin, whiskey and wine. Honestly, I thought that my craft beer crusades were why I was having gut issues and hanging on to some weight since that is the only thing I haven’t cut back on in a while. But the 30 day abstinence has not put even a dent in either of those issues (not that I… Read more »
Erin C
Erin C
2 years 4 months ago

I would highly suggest experimenting with different liquors and different brands while you’re still “squeaky clean” from the Whole30. I did my massive AIP first cutting out booze (along with pretty much everything else) and used the reintroduction phase to really focus on what my body could handle and what it tended to protest against. None of my food reintroductions went well (so no nightshades, seed spices, chocolate, eggs or even garlic!), but I successfully brought back coffee and some very specific alcohols. It took a looooong time too 🙂

Carisska
Carisska
2 years 4 months ago

I’m super curious which brands were okay for you and if you ever figured out why (were they made from different grains). Please share!

Erin C
Erin C
2 years 4 months ago
I know for a fact that I can’t handle most grain-based liquors and the distilling process makes a big difference too. So far, no scotch, whiskey or bourbon has been able to make the cut. I”m not a big sweet drink person, so I prefer the kind of booze that needs very little adornment. The best vodkas I’ve found are (all unflavored, of course): Ciroc-distilled from grapes; Tito’s-made from corn, super, ultra distilled; Prairie Organic-the type of wheat and distilling process used somehow doesn’t cause me issues. Rum (most rum is naturally gluten free, but a lot of the dark,… Read more »
Carisska
Carisska
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks! I’ll be checking some of those out soon. 🙂

Adam
Adam
2 years 4 months ago

Yeah, I’ve often wondered if alcohol and coffee elimination would take things a bit further at in terms of gut health, sleep and stress. As of yet, I’ve lacked the willpower to find out.

Elle F.
Elle F.
2 years 4 months ago

I quit coffee 4 months ago… 3 weeks of hell and a good 2 months before I felt “normal” again. The most noticeable improvement is my quality of sleep. I also love going on a trip and not worrying about making it to the next stop before I run out of coffee. Hated something having that much control over me!

Adam
Adam
2 years 4 months ago

Coffee really seems the more difficult of the two to eliminate. In my case I drink so much I feel like dropping it completely would be too life altering. Which shows just how much control it has over me!

Elle F.
Elle F.
2 years 4 months ago

Luckily, I didn’t have to work during my first 3 weeks of quitting coffee. I was able to really take care of myself, baby myself. I don’t think I would have made it otherwise.

CP
CP
2 years 4 months ago

I just started my own coffee reduction experiment. Mentally, it was too hard to go cold turkey so I am two days no coffee, 1 day with one cup then repeat. Not sure how effective it is but it is the best I can do for now!

Hannahbelle
Hannahbelle
2 years 4 months ago

My husband eats AIP paleo with me for support. It’s hugely restrictive, and he’s never batted an eyelid. Except for his coffee. He can’t fathom functioning without it. I don’t begrudge him that, either 😉

Greg
2 years 4 months ago

I have to try quitting coffree and see if my sleep improves. I cant make it through the night without waking up every 2 hours. Im sick of it.

D.M. Mitchell
D.M. Mitchell
2 years 4 months ago

I’ve quit coffee three times in my life, cold turkey. Three days of mild headaches, and feeling lethargic, and then I was fine. I quit because, back then, years ago, all the reports were that coffee was bad with no redeeming qualities. I went back to drinking coffee a few years ago, but I only drink coffee in the mornings, from about 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. while watching the news. Then nothing after that.

Adam
Adam
2 years 4 months ago

Yeah, the caffeine withdrawal headaches suck. I generally drink between one and two pots of coffee a day so perhaps tapering down from that at first might help avoid them.

SB
SB
2 years 4 months ago

This may be cheating, but I’ve gone off coffee and subbed in a mate tea (just about as much caffeine) in the morning to work on some gut issues. The tea has been quite a bit better so far. I’ll probably mix in some other caffeinated teas and see if I notice the drop in caffeine (going cold turkey no caffeine leads to a headache for me).

Elle F.
Elle F.
2 years 4 months ago

Magnesium was a big help for me with caffeine withdrawal.

JohnFinn
2 years 4 months ago

Letting go of coffee usually starts by replacing it with some other caffeine drink, such as green tea. You can then start lowering the amount you drink daily if you do want to cut on caffeine. Tea will always have other benefits that you couldn’t get from coffee, so it’s a step in the right direction.

AmyB
AmyB
2 years 4 months ago
I, too, quit caffeine (and wine) in January and experienced terrible caffeine withdrawal for two weeks and sad cravings for the social time with my husband. However, after about two months (couldn’t believe it took that long) I finally began sleeping better! I was the chronic waker in the middle of the night and always woke up very early and very tired. Now I sleep very soundly and feel rested. Additional bonus: I am just now (five months later) starting to shed the 15 pound weight gain acquired during my 48th peri-menopausal year. Added bonus that I did not anticipate!
Elle F.
Elle F.
2 years 4 months ago

Do you drink any caffeine at all these days? I will have green tea in the morning…. and reuse the same bag several times. Other than that I stick with herbal teas.

Kit
Kit
2 years 4 months ago

Alcohol – pregnenolone steal (Ameer Rosic does a good explanation of this). Coffee similar. What will Mark do in the mornings if coffee also causes problems?!

Elle F.
Elle F.
2 years 4 months ago

Without a doubt, I feel better with no alcohol in my life. Even 1 drink will lower my mood for several days, disrupt my sleep, and give me nasty bowel problems the next morning. Not worth it!

Rhodri
2 years 4 months ago
Kudos for bringing up the Alcohol rebound exiticity issue! This topic is oft overlooked in discussions of alcohol pros vs cons. Older folks that have been working hard and drinking steadily for most of their lives will often make comments about not needing much sleep or not being able to sleep in past 4am, etc. Without going any further overboard on generalizations, suffice to say that I’ve long believed that people with late night / early morning insomnia are actually suffering from rebound exiticity. There are people out there, I think, that have actually come to rely on it. They… Read more »
Susie
Susie
2 years 4 months ago

I’m wondering if this works the other way too. As someone who tends to drink alcohol very rarely, (just not that keen), I find that when I occasionally have the odd few days of drinking red wine I find it speeds weightloss and I sleep better.

Unfortunately my vice is dark chocolate, of which I spend far too much time justifying and eating…

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 4 months ago

I’m with you Susie, I love red wine, but only drink about 3 glasses a week. It helps with everything including pooping easier and fat loss. I actually don’t feel going wine-free helps me at all. I don’t have gut issues though.

Gwen
2 years 4 months ago
Exact same response here. I had to give up wine sooner though, because of a tendency since 2005 to get uric acid kidney stones. But I had the waking up issue, the acid reflux, the gut issues…with wine. (and the few forays back I take now and then.) Keep in mind, that when they say ‘a glass of wine’, they are referring to 4 (lousy, barely anything) ounces. Most modern wine glasses (especially the big ‘balloon’ type) hold 8-16 oz. Most wine drinkers drink 8-10 ounces per ‘glass’, which makes it easily, medically-speaking, 2 glasses right out of the gate.… Read more »
b2curious
b2curious
2 years 4 months ago

That’s why I stick to the smaller glasses. One of the ones I normally use barely holds 4 oz. I figure that if I use a little glass, it’s easier to stay at the official “glass of wine” serving.

Farzaneh
Farzaneh
2 years 4 months ago

Psychologically the smaller glasses help you drink less (much in the same way as smaller plates helping you eat less). I notice when I use the tiny Med “village” glasses I refill them several times and feel like I’ve had a lot but when I look at the bottle it’s the equivalent of only one glass.

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago
We went small plates and small glasses several years ago. That really helps. I measured a “glass” and it was about 3 oz. So if I had two glasses of wine (enough for sure) it was only 6 oz and after about an hour it is through the system and I can drive, or at least that’s what a Crime Lab guy has testified to in the past, yes, I sit in the courtroom for work so I hear things. I am amazed at how much people can drink and still find their driver’s door. One crash I saw happening… Read more »
Mike
Mike
2 years 4 months ago

In traditional Chinese medicine I think 1(2)- 3 am is the time of the liver. I also wake up at this time if I drink more than a couple of units.

Ray
Ray
2 years 4 months ago

No gut issues of which I am aware (other than loosing my gut when I cut wheat!), but I do experience the 2 or 3 am wake-up when I drink. I like my after dinner drink, but I am to the point where I would rather sleep through.

Thanks!

Erin
Erin
2 years 4 months ago

oh, yes I have noticed a difference. I gave up alcohol… it’s been at least a month, because I was having terrible bouts of acne. Currently, my skin is fairly clear 🙂

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 4 months ago

It only makes sense that if you have trouble with grapes and grains in their whole form, that you would have trouble with them in the fermented or juiced form.

and don't forget
and don't forget
2 years 4 months ago

Grapes are also one of the dirty dozen, heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. Ninety percent of French wines have pesticide residues–and that’s only known because the french are tackling the issue.
In the US we loooove our chemicals. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s worse here.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/02/your-french-wine-has-9-pesticide-traces

Diane
Diane
2 years 4 months ago
I don’t have the IBS type issues at all but I have gone without daily wine at times and the result is that I feel more even, more sunny disposition, and I don’t fall asleep in front of the tv at 8:30pm. For me, I think the dark chocolate is actually a gut irritant. Experimentation has shown that I’m allergic to eggs if I eat them daily. And if I eat bananas and apples daily, whoo boy can I clear a room with the resulting gas! The whole experimentation thing is so useful. I’m not very detailed at it, but… Read more »
primalpal
primalpal
2 years 4 months ago

I’m pretty convinced this is my kryptonite…I give it up for a few weeks and feel great…have one IPA at happy hour on Friday, still okay, but then slides to two or three a week, and I feel like I’m back to square one in terms of digestive well-being. Learning my limits! Wine is the same…more than a glass, and no bueno…but interested to see if it’s more a combo effect. When out at happy hour, typically indulge in a bite or two of something not-so-primal.

Jim
Jim
2 years 4 months ago
As an n=1, I can say that the effects of alcohol can be very interesting. When I cut out grains,alcohol and excess sugar, then added back good fats, my weight and perceived health improved dramatically. When I work out, I monitor my heart rate using a device that can track in one-second samples. When I look at the historic heart rate data during my “cleanest eating periods”, it looks good – heart rate tracks well with exertion and recovers well – resting HR ~58. I recently had a couple occasions where I consumed a moderate amount of alcohol (wine), and… Read more »
Gwen
2 years 4 months ago

Keep in mind, too, the sulfates in wine (especially red wine, I think): many of us are sensitive to sulfates, and that can cause issues, too…

Graham
Graham
2 years 4 months ago
I pretty much don’t drink anymore. Like Mark said, there is a time and a place. At a wedding I will have a few glasses of wine, but then I cut it off. After sports, I will sometimes “go for a drink”, but it’s usually club-soda with lime. It was hard to get everyone used to the fact that I now rarely drink (based on the precedence beforehand…whoops), but I have grown confident in just saying no thanks. I feel better without it, so screw it. That being said, I have my vices. At the end of a stressful day,… Read more »
John
John
2 years 4 months ago

Oh no you didn’t! 🙂 Cannabis is the 1000 pound gorilla in the room here that no one ever wants to talk about despite the fact that few could argue it’s not absolutely primal.

Of course many, many of us enjoy this particular herb but I suspect there is fear it might derail the whole primal movement so there is little interest in talking about it.

We use it in our paleo / primal household for relaxation, sleep, pain relief, stress reduction and have cut way back on alcohol consumption as a result.

Graham Ballachey
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks for the reply! That’s a good theory. I know I’m still very hesitant to bring it up when I’m around new people as I know that there are still a range of feelings on it. I wish it was totally cool, and it probably will be in the future.

Well, I know I’m not alone in this community now ;).

Lynna
Lynna
2 years 4 months ago

Nope. Random drug testing at work. A part time co-worker already got caught, although I don’t know which drug it was; she was suspended and decided not to jump through the hoops required to return.

b2curious
b2curious
2 years 4 months ago

I have cut out wine for a couple of months earlier this year and did not notice an difference in my health or sleep. Since adding it back in, I have noticed that on the evenings that I have 2 glasses of wine (the official 4 oz glass) I tend to be more irritable shortly thereafter. If I stick to 1 glass, or space them out by quite a bit, then I have no issues.

Superchunk
Superchunk
2 years 4 months ago

Hmmm…When I cut back too much on my drinking, giant spiders the size of elephants invade my house, so I have to be careful to keep my alcohol up to a certain level…thankfully I don’t have IBS to contend with.

However, for people trying to cut back, going to the single serving wines (I know, not the best quality) is something I find helpful since it reduces the urge to finish a bottle that would otherwise go bad.

Stacie
2 years 4 months ago

Or boxed wine, since it keeps longer (super classy, I know!). However, it is tempting to just hold the spigot to one’s mouth on really stressful days as well…. 😉

Superchunk
Superchunk
2 years 4 months ago

There is some very drinkable boxed wine from Chile and Argentina, and it’s much less damaging to the house than shooting at the spiders

paleozeta
paleozeta
2 years 4 months ago

rationalization makes bad things look good. meaning alcohol is a toxin, but it contains polyphenols… lets have it. grain contains gluten but also fiber. let’s have it

Wes
Wes
2 years 4 months ago

Not just wine… why should the ancestral community give *anything* a pass?

Jean
Jean
2 years 4 months ago
This is interesting. A couple of years ago, my then teenaged daughter had to be on a course of ‘monster’ antibiotics. To try and deter the growth of c-diff, we wanted a probiotic that would be powerful enough to deal with it. After some research we discovered that the best probiotic to combat c-diff is a yeast…the same yeast that my husband uses to brew beer and mead! My daughter’s probiotic was a glass of mead a day :). It is so full of good bacteria! I guess it’s all in what your body can deal with.
dankandco
dankandco
2 years 4 months ago

Yes. I’ve noticed that I feel fine after drinking my unfiltered, unpasteurized homebrew whereas any commercial bottled or canned beer, even real craft beer, leaves me feeling less than ok. I haven’t tried mead yet. I also want to try cider. Still, I am drinking less and less each month.

Virginia
Virginia
2 years 4 months ago
I was alcohol free for about 8 years in my mid-twenties to early-thirties due to severe Crohn’s Disease and my quest to get healthy again (and because of med interactions). During that time I was also completely dairy free. I was not grain free, in fact I pretty much lived on simple processed carbs (the medical community wasn’t offering a lot of food advice and I could eat a poptart at times whereas I couldn’t so much as eat a piece of lettuce without PROBLEMS). So, I can’t really suss out what the effects were due to, what was no… Read more »
Louise
Louise
2 years 4 months ago
I was recently at a bar that serves a lot of fancy craft cocktails and they had a substantial list of non-alcoholic drinks that were all amazing (not just Shirley Temples and the like)! Made it so easy to avoid the alcohol while still drinking something thoughtfully made with some complexity. There was a strong emphasis on house-made bitters in these beverages – in fact, you could even just get a big glass of seltzer with the bitters of your choosing for $1. Anyway – seltzer with flavored bitters (like cherry or orange) is a fantastic, mature-tasting option if you’re… Read more »
DeftTitan
DeftTitan
2 years 4 months ago

I enjoy red wine moderately, and coffee liberally, even with my Mormon background. I’ll go days or weeks without a glass of red wine, but I have black coffee daily. Sometimes an entire pot by myself, easily. It’s something I eventually want to change, and I have gone weeks without it before, but one small change at a time on my primal journey. I definitely know what happens to my gut when I eat grains, but I have to think that losing coffee will be the thing that improves my chronic gut issues.

David Birney
David Birney
2 years 4 months ago
I have drank a whole bunch on my life, but I decided to quit (more or less) about 8 years ago. I still had binges sometimes, and as I got older I would feel more and more sick from them. So I quit more or less completely before it became a problem. I can still drink if I really want too, but I really never want too, it has been a year or so, it certainly did help a great deal. However my drinking pattern was never everyday glass or two it was a month or two and a whole… Read more »
Joe Bob
Joe Bob
2 years 4 months ago

I sure don’t miss the IBS, I had the same problem where I had to plan to be within a few minutes of a public restroom at all times. Like you it was cured by giving up grains.

Kiah
Kiah
2 years 4 months ago
Oh man, seeing this is so refreshing. I quit drinking for the same reasons and it has made all the difference. Some people don’t have a sensitive digestive system, but for those of us who do, alcohol is a HUGE factor. It may “just” be IBS, but as you are well aware, it can be debilitating! Can’t say I’m totally cured 100% of the time, as it is also stress/anxiety related (I think it all goes hand-in-hand), but the biggest weight has been lifted now that I feel more in control – in all aspects of my life. I recommend… Read more »
Linda KK
Linda KK
2 years 3 months ago
This is a major-league life-changer for me!!! I searched for Jason Vale’s “How to Kick the Drink Easily” on Amazon, after reading your post and Mary Decker’s post that also highly recommended this book. I ended up with Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Control Alcohol” on eBook. Yes, my mind was muddled by the beer I had been drinking:/ Turns out Jason was a counselor/trainer in Allen Carr’s Easy Way clinics, so their methodology is the same. Two days later I finished Allen Carr’s book, and had my last drink. No cravings at all, some withdrawal, but what an uplifting,… Read more »
Kim
Kim
2 years 4 months ago

Alcohol definately causes bloat. I have adult-onset asthma and I’ll breathe fine on medication but one drink and I’m wheezing. So, I try to avoid alcohol (if I know what’s good for me), but sometimes I do have a drink on the weekends.

Mark, consider whether it’s the alcohol itself or a substance in it. For example, could it be the sulfites in your wine? Have you tried experimenting with sulfite-free wine? The taste is vastly inferior, so you may need to shop around for semi-decent one. Do you get the same reaction with all forms of alcohol?

Mia
Mia
2 years 4 months ago

A friend just sent me an article yesterday how wine in particular is a histamine releaser, so when you said wheezing after drinking that caught my eye. I’m not sure if all alcohol falls into that category. Interesting learning each day!

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago
Funny, I’ve decided to experiment with cutting out that glass or two of wine. I wondered if it was having the rebound wake effect on me around 2:30 / 3 AM as well. Turns out “no” that isn’t it, there are hormones that release that don’t always release to keep us asleep ( those of us over 50 have interesting lessons to learn like this I guess). The pressure point is at the top of my ribcage smack in the middle on my underarm area. A little pressure is enough to help me get back to sleep. I did read… Read more »
Gwen
2 years 4 months ago

try decaf orange spice tea, 2Rae. 😉

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago

Will do, thanks Gwen. Maybe with some coconut oil in it?

Noir Rees
Noir Rees
2 years 4 months ago

I did “sober october” last year for cancer research and give up for lent 40 days every year to give my body a rest. I can honestly say I don’t notice a difference. I dont tend to drink much but if I feel like a glass of wine or two, I dont fret about it . I think as I’ve aged I don’t tend to drink as much, if I go out with friends I over indulge but thats more a few times a year not every weekend these days

Suzanne
Suzanne
2 years 4 months ago

Over 10 years ago I stopped drinking, mostly because my ability to sleep was always compromised. But the best dude effect from no alcohol was that my IBS disappeared completely. Best gift to myself, ever.

Tammy
Tammy
2 years 4 months ago
Mark what a great post, thank you for sharing. My story is the same as yours basically. I’ve had a wide range of gut issues for my entire adult life. About 12 years ago I went low carb a la Atkins and then about 4 years ago dropped all grains via paleo/primal. I’ve had great success over the years but still only 85-90% better. I’ve known alcohol was a problem for a long time and I’ll admit its my last hold out. I am a wine drinker and collector. I worked 13 years in the industry in both retail and… Read more »
D.M. Mitchell
D.M. Mitchell
2 years 4 months ago
Never had IBS, from drinking or anything else. In fact, other than hangovers when I drank too much, I never noticed much effect from drinking. In my youth I thought I would live forever and I drank like it. As I got older and into taking care of my body I drank less. I like getting up early in the mornings–I’m a natural morning person–and I like to be clear-headed when I get up. Can’t be clear-headed if I drink too much the night before. But as to alcohol and the sleeping issue: For all of my adult life I’ve… Read more »
Julie
Julie
2 years 4 months ago
Yes, I am attempting the no alcohol lifestyle myself! It’s really hard, but like other folks have stated, so much of the difficulty in dropping it is because it fills a “happiness hole”, and I am working on replacing it with other things that make me feel much better. I’ve gone without the last two weeks and then had a few drinks, and really noticed how toxic I felt the next morning. I never really noticed it when I was drinking regularly! And like so many others, the biggest impact of drink for me appears to be suffering from interrupted… Read more »
2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago

Julie, maybe increase your fat intake (?), my go-to oil sitting here on my desk at work, is coconut oil. That completely silences the 3 Musketeer’s bar in the candy machine that likes to call my name as I pass by. Although, I will say just a teaspoon of it without it being mixed into something is pretty difficult for me to do.

Julie
Julie
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks, good idea! I have coconut butter, which is the whole pulverized coconut, so it tastes yummier than just the oil. Time to bring it to work!

Emily
Emily
2 years 4 months ago

I love wine–LOVE IT–and have lots of trouble with stress. It’s really fun while I’m drinking it, but since I’ve started eating primally and really paying attention to alcohol’s effects on my body, I’m about to decide it’s not worth having. I have a tendency to make worse food choices after even a glass of wine, it makes me more depressed the following day, and I too wake up between 2 and 3AM and have trouble falling back to sleep. Too bad. Nothing goes better with steak than red wine. :-/

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