Meet Mark

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
216 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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216 thoughts on “Self-Experiment: No Alcohol for 45 Days and Counting”

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  1. 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!

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

      1. 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 clearly wrong. The lady on the phone investigated and told me that it wasn’t in their seasoning but WAS in the liquid boil they added. I think MSG is listed as the second ingredient on most brands…right after salt.

        I’ve toyed with trying to come up with my own recipe to make my own blend but nobody in the family wants to wait for me to perfect it. They’d rather just buy the store bought blend. Crawfish have been so expensive that I’d hate to waste that much money and not get it perfect on the first shot! Life is too short for unflavored crawfish.

        1. 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 stopped happening (just in time for Mardi Gras), but before I gave it up for 8 weeks, alcohol had never just woke me up before, it always helped me sleep better and longer throughout the night. Hard to get back on the poison after being off for so long.

    2. 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 back to the kitchen. It helps to avoid fried meat and stick with baked, grilled or broiled when eating out.

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

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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 enjoyed going without alcohol for a few weeks!

  6. 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

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

      1. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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, etc., but I still do get gas and bloating now and then, and haven’t been able to identify the cause.

    I like the idea of a self-study, and will start an alcohol-free self-study today. Things I’m looking for are better sleep patterns and improved digestion.

    Thanks for the idea!

    1. 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!)

      1. 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…

        1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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…

      1. 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 to 200 ml per evening….

        1. 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

  13. 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 way I felt after a couple of weeks alcohol-free even better.

    Just this past weekend I did another challenge, drinking a couple of bottles of hard cider over a 3-hour period, and I felt like I was going to die. Me, who used to slam down a couple of potato vodka martinis with what I thought at the time were no ill effects whatsoever! My theory is that I’ve managed over the past 1.5 years of eating the way I do to heal my gut to the point that if I ingest something my gut doesn’t like, I REALLY know it.

    So yeah, no more challenges for me. I am satisfied that I need to avoid alcohol altogether from now on. The way I feel without it is enough of an incentive. I would love to see a followup article on how you’ve replaced that ritual with other things, Mark!

  14. 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.

  15. 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 of vodka, most white wines, some red wines, but no beer.

    Now, I have my nutrition dialed in and follow a very stringent autoimmune plan but still booze it up 2-3 times a week. 99% of all my issues have resolved themselves as long as I diligent about what goes into my mouth. I’m a drinker. I like my booze! I enjoy the social time that goes along with it and the general friendliness that follows once people loosen up and drop their guards.

    1. 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 know how much I weigh since I can’t weigh myself until tomorrow, but I see and feel no weight difference. I was expecting so much more out of the Whole30 in general, tbh). I’ve just been irritable for a month, and I’m still chubby 🙂 I’ll stick to the anti-stress aspects of boozing it up once in a while.

      1. 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 🙂

    2. 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!

      1. 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, spiced and/or aged ones have wheat, other grains or gross nasty stuff hiding behind proprietary labels): Mount Gay; Bacardi Superior.

        For the wines, organic makes a difference! Lately, I’ve been really getting in to the more naturally fermented ones. Some have kind of a “funk” but it’s definitely growing on me 🙂

  16. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

        2. 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!

        3. 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 😉

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

        1. 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.

      4. 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).

        1. 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.

      5. 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!

        1. 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.

    2. 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?!

  17. 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!

  18. 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 wake up with their brain in accelerated action and go grab a coffee and get on with their day. But all those that express chagrine at their inability to enjoy a solid 8 hours of sleep should maybe follow your lead and experiment going alcohol free for awhile.

    Good article!

  19. 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…

    1. 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.

  20. 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. 😉

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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 was a guy driving (through a gaurdrail on an over pass to the freeway where I was drving) with a BAC (blood alcohol level) of .5…. yikes, .08 is leagally impaired and is about two normal sized beers.
        hmmmm, I wrote a lot, too much coffe this morning?

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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 I do try to be aware of patterns.

  26. 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.

  27. 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 during exercise the following day noticed differences in how my heart rate was tracking and recovering. The first time I didn’t place much concern about it, but it happened again with alcohol being the major change.

  28. 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…

  29. 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, I have been known to take a toke or two of cannabis, and I do enjoy the effects. There is definitely such things as too much (it can affect my sleep in excessive quantities), but just a small amount in the early evening is heavenly. I have experimented thoroughly over the years, and as long as the dose is fairly low, and preferably early in the evening, I notice nothing but positive effects.

    Anyone else enjoy this particular herb? It may seem immature to enjoy it, but hey, if it works it works (for me). 🙂

    1. 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.

      1. 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 ;).

    2. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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…. 😉

      1. 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

  32. 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

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

  34. 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.

    1. 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.

  35. 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 dairy and what was no alcohol. I’ve been working on becoming primal/paleo over the last few years but I’ve been very reluctant to cut out alcohol on top of everything.

    That being said, I’ve had few periods where I’ve cut out everything (legumes, dairy, grains, alcohol, sugar) for 30 days at a time and I ALWAYS feel better at the end of those 30 days. I’m generally legume and grain free on a day to day basis at this point. I’m working on making that a no-brainer constant in my life.

    But I do think there’s validity, for max health, to cutting out alcohol. That being said, having lived with so many food restrictions (at times, months of liquid only diets due to my disease) for very long periods of time, and being what I find to be functionally pretty healthy overall nowadays, I’m reluctant to say good bye to the responsible consumption of alcohol……

  36. 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 looking to feel like part of the crowd without imbibing. I could even see adding a splash of thick coconut milk for a little twist!

  37. 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.

  38. 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 bunch of shots. I cannot say I miss it.

  39. 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.

  40. 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 reading “How to Kick the Drink Easily” by Jason Vale if anyone might be interested in making it a life-long choice. The truth is, alcohol is not healthy for you. But that gets brushed under the rug when big pharma, corporations and the government make money off of us drinking it 😉

    1. 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, marvelous feeling it is to know you are “Free at Last!” Love this MDA community 😀

  41. 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?

    1. 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!

  42. 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 that a person who was having alcohol cravings even after getting sober, even 10 years later. He said that he took 5 to 6 tablespoons of coconut oil a day, throughout the day I’m thinking. He said that for him it took away the anxiety and cravings that he had been fighting during his sober years. I thought that would be a good thing to remember if we need to “wind down” but without alcohol. Maybe some good coconut in a warm drink would help us calm down? Another experiment?
    I had a nice cup of tea, spearment, last night before going to bed. Note to self, THAT was not a good idea. I forgot that type of mint is not good for me. I woke up with a case of groggy, foggy, sleepy head. Ugh, I am a MORNING person who waits awake in bed until I can get up finally at 5 AM. So there you go. I will try different tea tonight to see what happenes. NO SPEARMINT !!!! 🙂

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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 wholesale and currently have approx 1200 bottles in my home wine cellar. The idea of me going completely alcohol free is unimaginable since its such a part of my life. I do however, make a point every January through mid February (6 weeks) to drink NO alcohol. And then finally this calendar year I’ve really cut back to maybe one bottle of wine per week. I’ll go all week and then have a couple glasses with meals on the weekend. It’s an internal conflict for me since most of my friends, social gatherings, even vacations revolve around wine. My “next day” symptoms these days are much better however thanks to good probiotics, resistant starch, and just having days or weeks “off” in between events.

  46. 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 never slept a full night without waking up two or three times. My brother and sister are the same. There have been a couple of years-long periods in my life where I did not drink at all, but I still could not sleep all the way through the night without waking up two or three times. Maybe it’s a genetic thing. But when I do drink, especially too much, before going to bed, when I wake up it’s much harder to go back to sleep. I’ve always attributed that to a blood sugar crash.

    I’m in the process of seriously reducing my alcohol intake and limiting it to red wine.

  47. 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 sleep.

    I am struggling (and currently failing) against the increased sugar cravings once my liquid sugar no longer is around to feed the beast. Rawr!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  48. 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. :-/

  49. Great Post! I would need to gear up for that because it is margarita season.

    However a good annual goal would be to remain alcohol free from Memorial Day to Independence Day. May 26th to July 4th is not quite 45 days but it is a good slot between social holidays. I like the concept of the Sober October too. Lime, bitters and soda is my go to cocktail for sober social drinking. I’m in!

  50. I went from drinking a lot (a drink or two several nights a week plus regular binge drinking on weekends) to only allowing myself 1 or 2 drinks on the weekend, while just home alone or with my husband, or a few drinks during a social occasion. Binging is limited to maybe twice a year (instead of twice a month) when the mood is right (party, wedding, etc.) and I feel horrible after, but I still think it’s worth it.

    I think the desire to drink most evenings becomes a mental addiction, and it’s pretty easy to break once you stop doing it for a while (like drinking multiple coffees in a day or eating dessert every night). For myself, I find the desire is still there a little bit, but I know it’s just not worth it. I save up for my two glasses of wine on Friday, and then it seems a little more special :).

  51. A few years ago, ~ age 26, pre-Primal, I was getting ready for a belt test and stopped drinking for 6 weeks. That was the longest amount of time between drinks I’ve had since I started regularly consuming alcohol around age 21. I felt absolutely fantastic. I’d be curious to see how it couples with the Primal lifestyle and where I am now.

  52. People can be weird about alcohol in social situations. I’ll never understand why people who are supposed to be adults try to pressure people into getting plastered with them.

    I don’t drink but maybe once per year or so. I’ve found that a glass of fizzy water with ice and a lime wedge keep the people trying to peer pressure me (what is this, middle school?) into drinking with them at bay.
    Any more, I’m the weirdo who shows up to the new year’s eve party with two bottles of Gerolsteiner and a couple of limes.

    1. Lol. So true. I’ve known several people to have said, “I don’t trust people that don’t drink”. I think it just makes the rest of us feel like lushes that can’t control our urges. 😉

  53. Alcohol is notoriously bad for gut flora. I’ve learned this the hard way, as have some friends of mine. It feeds candida like there’s no tomorrow. Especially so for those still eating ample simple carbs (non-primal). Other than the mention in your piece about the benefits of the polyphenols in red wine, I think alcohol generally does the body very little good other than as a form of self-medication. If stressed, exercise – sweat and feel de-stressed by doIng something helpful for your body. However, as always, to each his own. If you don’t care how ‘clean’ your diet is – have at it! But if you’ve worked hard to achieve a healthier lifestyle and incorporate primal principles, I don’t see why alcohol would be part of that picture. Just sayin..

  54. Thankfully, alcohol is one thing that I don’t have to cut out. Although I did try it when I was younger, it has always made me sick so I have never been a drinker. Even half a glass of wine would make me sick for 2-3 days. I will occasionally cook with wine though. I wish not drinking helped me sleep; unfortunately I still have not been able to figure that one out.

  55. Alcohol for me is like an abusive boyfriend. I do better to stay as far away from it as I can and I feel much better for it.

  56. This is very interesting – like someone else said “get outta my head, Mark!”. We are a hard-drinking Irish family – most of us started young and we can really put it away. My older brother and sister have been saying that they became “allergic” to alcohol when they got to be around 50 – IBS symptoms, trouble sleeping, lethargy, etc. so they had to really cut back, I’m 47 now, and I am starting to have major problems just like my brother and sister described. It’s not only if I drink a lot – even just one or two cocktails or a couple glasses of wine. So, this last Saturday, I decided to quit for 2 weeks to see if I feel better. So far, only 3 days in, I feel way way better! Coincidentally, my coffee maker blew up, so I only have a cup or two once I get to work instead of 4 before work and a couple when I get there. I bet that may have something to do with it, too. I also feel much less hungry than usual. Like I said, interesting….

  57. I started running competitively and stopped drinking while training for a race. That was two years ago. Not only do I feel great but I no longer have the stomach issues and other minor health nuisances that would creep up every once in a while. True, I end up being the designated driver on most occasions but I get the last laugh when I wake up at 6 am to go for a run while the rest can barely drag their butts out of bed. I’m sure by now my tolerance is such that one sip of wine would get me quite the buzz.

  58. I have no IBS (that I know) however it was amazing to see almost a 100% match to after-alcohol symptoms I’ve discovered: it hits my sleeping patterns, my gut rebells, my workouts become doubly hard with half the intensity. What I’ve ended up with is an average of once in 2 month I may go for a drink or two. My wife recently joined me in Paleo style and she has discovered that alcohol affects her digestion and her acne flare-ups. So every time I mention “hey, how about a glass of whine?” the reply always is: “what, and feel crappy after?!” 😉

  59. Since going primal I naturally reduced my alcohol consumption- it definitely gives me IBS and messes with my sleep even after one glass. I still partake occasionally to be social and because I like wine but I do so with the full knowledge of the effects – it’s a calculated decision. I now might have a drink every few months or so.

  60. Well, for me, alcohol is a bad, bad thing, and I haven’t had any for more than a decade, though these days I will put wine in a stew or a half teaspoon of vanilla on top of a dish of yogurt. If the thought of not drinking at all creeps you out in a serious way, I would say all the more reason to give it a vacation, if for no other reason than to understand better your personal relationship to this substance that can be very, very dangerous for some people. I drank like a healthy person for a while then it all went very bad. Straightening out the problem took a lot of time and attention. Keep an eye on it.

  61. Being a fan of good reds myself, I know what you mean. I tried this same experiment a year or so ago.

    My customary amount was 1-2 small glasses per day with the evening meal. Had the same sleep issues Mark describes, but otherwise thought I felt “fine”. Then I decided to cut back even further and even skip some weeks altogether, having 1 small glass with dinner, maybe 2-3 times, SOME weeks, not all.

    The result was as Mark said, feel even better and NO bothersome symptoms at all, as opposed to a “only a few”. Great post! Thanks again for all you do.

  62. I’ve been AF (alcohol free) since December 1, 2012 and have absolutely no interest in poisoning myself ever again. It is toxic stuff, no matter how you slice it. That’s why they call it “intoxicated”. After going Paleo 7 years ago and practicing yoga on a regular basis, I started to feel a major disconnect about how alcohol consumption fits into a healthy lifestyle. I only drank wine (because it’s made from fruit, so that’s ok, right?), but suffered dehydration, hangovers, and blackouts more often than I care to admit. I tried to keep my doses down, but the trouble is that alcohol is terribly addictive. After I read Jason Vale’s book, “Kick the Drink…Easily”, I went for it. And I am so glad I did! Life is way better without it. Think how great HD tv vs old tv, that’s what you get sans alcohol. I highly recommend the book and at least giving AF living a try. There are plenty of good tasting bevvies available that offer positive health effects vs the toxicity and addiction of alcohol, so there is no need to consume it. Friends and relatives are surprisingly 100% supportive!

    1. You have one famous name I suppose you already know. One of the best middle distance runners we’ve ever had.

  63. My mother who is 63 and has a mostly primal diet, had a medical three weeks ago and was diagnosed with high pressure. She decided to forgo her nightly glass of wine to see if that made a difference. Her blood pressure is now back in the normal range. I should also mention that she does weight training 3 times a weeks and walks on alternate days sometimes incorporating the occasional sprint.
    This post was timely – it has made me re think my alcohol consumption.

  64. I do cherish the taste of a really cold corona with a lime a few times a year on a super hot sunny day, but usually feel “not right” after one, so I’m good stopping there…..and when you hardly drink, one gets you pretty “buzzy”. The smell of all other alcohol makes me want to hurl for some reason. I know a lot of people, couples, in their 50s, who spend their entire weekends sitting around talking and drinking. The following week is spent dealing with gut issues and they feel that this happens because they are in their 50s and that is “just how it is”. I always tell myself that I will NEVER be like that when I get to that decade because I don’t see the appeal and can’t understand how that is considered joyful or fun and what do you possibly have to talk about sitting at a table for an entire weekend??? lol I think being social and having friends is important but do it on a golf course, a trail, a ride, a run, a walk, in a pool, anything, some type of adventure! Maybe it is fun and I’m the weird one????

  65. I know alcohol isn’t the best thing for my body but it’s fun and makes life more enjoyable. It’s a trade-off. Can I live without it? Sure. In fact, I’m going to cut it out entirely for the next few months to give my liver a rest and trim those last inches of belly fat.

  66. I remembered something else. A couple of years ago I was researching how much alcohol, mixed with water, would kill pathogens. Wine and beer, hundreds and thousands of years ago was generally safer to drink than water (post-agriculture and city and town living). I found out that the Babylonians, Hebrews, and Greeks, among others, all had watering down laws. I forget what the Babylonians had, but the Hebrews were supposed to mix 3 parts water with 1 part wine. And, in the Bible, where it says the priests could not use strong drink in their rituals, that meant undiluted wine, they had no distilled spirits back then. The Greeks thought that anyone who drank undiluted wine was a drunkard.

  67. Judging on the amount of comments already on this subject I would say you landed a big one here Mark! I just have to wonder how many glasses of wine the average paleo man consumed each night and that there seems to be a little bit of a disconnect with many of the commenters here??

  68. I quit drinking on May 15th, 2012 because, frankly, I had a problem. Being primal/paleo helped me with the cravings, I believe, because my previous attempts prior to the elimination of sugar and grains had not been succesful.

    It can be weird being the sober one sometimes, and sometimes I wish I could have a drink, but the benefits have so far outweighed the negatives.

    1. It’s said that alcoholism is a thwarted sweet tooth, so going primal may very well help. I know it does with me.

  69. I’m on week 3 of the Whole Life Challenge (similar to Paleo). My level is allowed 1 drink per week but I’ve only had 1 glass of wine so far. I honestly haven’t missed it! I would drink a glass or two of wine as a habit most nights… it actually wasn’t too hard the break the habit. Although, I do enjoy the taste & will likely have a glass or two on special occasions.

  70. This is interesting and rather timely!
    I recently gave up alcohol on a whim last month more to save money and improve my productivity levels than my stomach issues (with food I am consistently about 99% Primal and only drink dry red wine for whiskey on the rocks as I am very sensitive to sugar). I didn’t plan on abstaining for a certain amount of time, but drank again after a month this past weekend.

    My stomach was fine the next day, in fact it felt better than it had all week (I was dealing with boating simply from PMS). The main thing I noticed was my skin! I have always had very oily skin, prone to breakouts. During that month of no alcohol consumption I was still breaking out but my skin felt much less oily. On Sunday, back came the feeling I usually get after drinking (as if the alcohol is trying to seep out through the pores in my face…gross, but true). My skin just feels like a oil slick the entire next day!

    Since it doesn’t seem to affect my stomach too much so long as I stick to what I know is alright, I’m keen enough to limit my alcohol intake for the sole purpose of vanity! It is not enjoyable to feel the alcohol coming out of your face! (Yes, I know this is not scientific but it is how it feels!)

  71. My husband is a winemaker, and wine is always on our dinner table. I was not much of a drinker when we married, but I learned to appreciate fine wines–out of self defense–he makes some great wines! But my consumption was creeping up on me, and after I slogged through the dishes I’d stumble in front of the tv and fall asleep (cheap drunk!). Then I’d wake up at “bedtime” and have a hard time getting to sleep–setting up a very unhealthy pattern.

    About six months ago, I decided it was time to quit drinking the wine–in conjunction with doing a Whole 30. I was surprised I didn’t miss the wine at all, so I decided it is no longer part of the nightly ritual. I will still have a glass or two on Friday night, and very occasionally pour myself an ounce or so to taste at a meal, but I don’t drink wine with dinner any other time. I am awake and alert until bedtime, then fall asleep easily now. I feel generally better, too, although I wasn’t having any specific symptoms related to alcohol.

    I still miss the ritual of the wine too. We swirl and sniff and critique the wines we drink (mostly my husband’s). We compare the taste with and without food, and with different foods. So at first, I replaced that ritual with commercial kombucha–tasting different flavors. I drank my kombucha from a wine glass.

    Now that the habit is broken, I just pour my kombucha (now homemade) into a regular glass and enjoy it. I still enjoy lingering at the table when we are having a good conversation with each other or our kids. Alcohol no longer has to be a part of it. This was not a difficult transition to make, and I’m happy I did it.

    1. Ya my brother in law makes wine also and do understand how much it can just surround your lifestyle, especially in social conditions. We get together on all the holidays and other occasions and wine seems to be a big part of conversations. Knowing this makes me very impressed with you. You say it “was not a difficult transition” but to me it’s exceptional none the less.

  72. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol for months; in fact, it might have been almost a year since I’ve had a drink. I started fertility treatments, which prompted me to eliminate alcohol completely from my diet. To be honest I never really cared much about it, hate beer but would occasionally have some wine or hard alcohol.

    I wouldn’t say I have noticed any gut health changes, but once all this fertility stuff is done I will say I don’t plan on going back to drinking (even though it wasn’t a regular thing for me). I got a 23&Me test recently, and I have one SNP that predisposes me to worsened liver damage with alcohol use in addition to having the ApoE 3,4 mutation. I’m steering clear of alcohol!

  73. I’m so depressed. I’ve known for a while that I feel better without alcohol and that I should just stop drinking it. But, Marks 2-glass-per-night-habit was enough to justify keeping it in my life. Now what?

  74. when I was in my 20’s, I could handle copious amounts of alcohol with seemingly no problem, however by about 38, I really noticed the effects when I drank anything – hangover, heart palpitations, and bad liver count numbers with the Doctor. Since then, I have basically stopped all alcohol, and it’s been that way for the past 5 years.

    I still have the odd drink at the a social gathering, but we are talking in the range of 6 glasses of wine, and 6 Schooners of Beer, per YEAR, max, and I always feel crap when I do have any alchohol now. I find it’s almost impossible to hang out at nightclubs/bars as that is the only reason people go there (well, a primary one) is to drink. Try going along and not drinking, and you’ll find it gets boring really quickly, especially if you hang out with a “drinking” crowd.

    On the flip side, I seemed to have gravitated into a crowd that don’t drink, so based on the way society works, it is almost a lifestyle driven change to eliminate all alchohol from your diet.

    The end game, is that I feel more healthy than ever, don’t get hangovers, can get up to kids in the middle of the night to change nappies/get bottles and it doesn’t “phase me” as much as trying to do the same when you have gone to bed after a couple of glasses of wine, and no more “foggy” effects from drinking either. Alcohol is just one of thoses things that serves no further purpose in my life, so I’ve left it behind.

    unfortunatley that’s meant leaving behind a few people on one side of the river of life, and finding new ones on the other side, maybe some of the old crowd will cross that river when they are ready – its just the way it is I guess.

    In terms of coffee – I might drink anywhere from 0-6 cups a day, and it doesn’t seem to effect my sleep at all, as long as I don’t drink coffee past say 3:00 pm. I deliberatley go some days without coffee to build a “tolerance” to going without it.

  75. The sleep thing is me to a T! I can have a couple glasses of wine a week but certainly no more than 1 (generally a 1/2) unless I want it go affect my sleep in the same way Mark mentions (multiple wake ups). I always take my Natural Calm on “drinking” nights ;). It helps immensely.

  76. Alcohol, my dear friend and nemesis.
    I find that alcohol wrecks my digestion, mood, and motivation for several days after consumption. I have trouble sleeping for up to 24 hours after drinking.

    I quit drinking for about 6 months in 2012 after a difficult breakup and I felt great and lost a lot of lingering body fat.
    I’ve been thinking about a 60-90 day break to see how I feel and if that’s something I want to continue long term..

  77. Mark, what about your coffee intake? You would think that you would have to include the acidity in coffee to rule out that variable in Your IBS factor

  78. This is really timely for me as I too have been doing an alcohol or rather no-alcohol experiment. I suspect the negative effects it tends to have on me are complex (a reaction to the preservative and the yeast as well as some of the leaky gut reactions you mention). When I drink I tend to gain weight and have disrupted sleep. Their are alcoholics in my family so I have always been cautious and avoided drinking to excess. Having gone a few weeks without it I have noticed an improvement in sleep quality.

  79. I have read that red wine, in particular, causes more problems with middle of the night insomnia than clear spirits. Many friends have noticed this: a whiskey is less disruptive of sleep than red wine.

    Here is a statement I found somewhere on web that seems to validate these personal experiences. “Red wine in the evening can lead to insomnia for some, not just from the alcohol’s metabolism which makes your sleep restless or wakeful later in the night. Red wine contains two substances that energize you: pyruvate and tyramine.”. (I have not researched the veracity of this statement).

  80. I’ve been Primal for a few years now and seen all the health benefits. I quite beer and hard alchohol except on rare conditions. But I still had a couple glasses of wine on most nights.

    I’ve traditionally done no alchohol for lent every year and feel great when I do it.

    However, I had developed conditions with autoimmune symptoms (clusters of sores in mouth, skin – more than you can ignore as normal). I changed to be even stricter on the diet and eliminated alchohol. Poof – gone, clear.

    After a couple months of being clear, I’ll introduce some of the items back including wine, but I will never go back to “most nights”.

    On a side note, one other issue I addresses is over working out. I switched from 5 – 6 hard workouts a week to 2 – 3 with some other activities to stay active. I think the combination of alchohol + over working out put my body in an elevate cortisol state.

    It’s hard to nail down the exact cause but I know for sure “most nights” of wine is a problem for me.

  81. I have experienced the same stress reducing, ritual love of my evening glass of wine. One of the biggest revelations I have had, and unfortunately for me have had repeatedly before deciding that this is not working for me, is that the primal/paleo lifestyle and social drinking is a tough mix. We, as primal followers, eat incredibly well, “clean” with very little carb to slow the absorption of the alcohol. I have noticed that I will get sick easily from alcohol intake and it just isn’t worth polluting my body. I am on an alcohol hiatus now too. Thank you for the extra motivation and reminder!
    Looking forward to seeing you at Primal Con NY 🙂

  82. I’ve quit drinking alcohol when I quit smoking 5 years ago because they’ve had a strong relationship with each other and I couldn’t quit one without the other … I haven’t started eating paleo till about year and a half ago so I can definitely attest to the improved gut health since I’ve stopped drinking b/c bread, legumes, pasta and the likes stopped giving me any issues! I no longer carried anti-acid medication with me and I still don’t … life is just better all around without booze I don’t care what the science is trying to justify! 🙂

  83. great read! I would like to know what activities you have come up with to unwind

    1. I second Beth’s comment! I can totally relate to Mark’s comment of having a couple glasses of wine to unwind after a long day and totally feel like ‘the stress is leaving my body.’ I work from home so have always used it as my cue to stop working and relax. I’d like to cut it out for a few months for health and weight reasons, plus I’ve noticed that I’m way too attached to it for my own good. My husband’s in the wine industry as well so there’s a lot of ritual and connectedness around it. What are some of your rituals to relax after a hard day? I’ve tried meditation but frankly it just feels like more work after a work day. I’ve started having homemade kombucha, which feels special enough so that helps, but I miss that instant sense of relaxation you can get with wine. Any suggestions would be super greatly appreciated!

      1. How about going for a stroll, preferably in nature? Or, find a comfortable spot and read a book. Got a cat? Stroking one while they purr is very relaxing. Deep breathing exercises? Hug a tree. Really, try it. Hobbies can be relaxing for some as well as gardening. Zoning out in front of a non controversial TV program might work.

        That’s all I got at the moment. I’m sure if you put your mind to it, you will come up with some that suit you perfectly.

      2. A cup of really good quality tea always works for me. Doesn’t matter what kind, although I don’t care for herbal teas and I don’t use teabags, which “muddy” the flavor. I buy several different kinds of loose tea from a company in Boston. Although the act of unwinding is mostly psychological, there are few things in life that are as surrounded by ritual by so many cultures as the drinking of tea.

  84. May 20, 2014 was my 72 birthday. This posting and all the responses were the gifts of a lifetime. I quit drinking alcohol in 1996. I could not drink like a lady and a drunken older woman is definitely not attractive. It was a hard slog to become alcohol free. So I quit alcohol first then came into the Paleo/Primal etc world early 2010. By the time of my 50th High School class reunion I was able to wear a red silk dress in a size much smaller than I wore at 18. There is a life after alcohol and enjoying the benefits of a healthy life style afforded me by living without grains and with healthy fats, tai chi, yoga etc. make me feel much younger than the calendar would suggest. Thank you Mark and all for participating in this Blog.

      1. Thank you, Victor and Jess for your responses. One of the attributes of drinking alcohol was “an astonishing regularity” of bowel habits. Constipation was a problem until I stumbled on the The Perfect Health Diet by the Jaminets. This diet recommends eating potatoes and white rice to benefit the mucosa in the intestines. They were first in my book in recommending “resistant starch” although they didn’t call it that. I find that eating RS in food works best for me–better than taking potato starch mixed with water. I do eat some green bananas also.

    1. Doris, you are proof this whole thing works and as I value ALL the opinions here yours is one I’ll
      have to value just a little more!!

  85. Just curious… Do you think the type of wine would make a difference? I live on a farm and have really gotten into making my own wine and considering making beer as well. I use honey from our own bees and fruit that I pick from our “un-sprayed” plum trees or mulberries, etc., and natural yeast from the air. It’s really excellent tasting and because of the time that goes into each bottle, I ration myself to about a bottle a month. Obviously, not an excessive amount. But, I wondered if you are eliminating a wine that perhaps your body is reacting to the chemicals with which the grapes are sprayed, yeast, or something of that nature; rather than the drink in general. Love your articles and blog! Thank you!

  86. I recently gave up alcohol for the Lenten season and made it the whole time without a drop. I eat primal 6 days a week. I never noticed major gut problems, except after a binge on alcohol for a night (very loose stool). However once going primal I noticed on my “grains cheat day” (Saturday). I would be bound up for a day or two always. I kept track of this and weight and fat loss. I assume the bound up was due to me consuming grains at least from keeping track that’s what it looks like, but it didn’t always happen. So my Lenten experiment was a good way to test something else alcohol. Eliminating it for 40 days did not effect my fat loss or weight loss negatively or positively. I have been steadily loosing a pound a day (gaining back 2 pounds on my grains cheat day) with or without alcohol. The second thing I did notice was that I was still getting bound up after my cheat day. However without alcohol I never had the problems I would get with the binge. My energy level without alcohol was the same, and my tiredness factor was the same as well (still not full quality sleep). My caffeine intake did up during that time as I really desire something/anything to drink after dinner that isn’t just water and I do not drink soda or juice. So my tea and coffee intake at night was higher so the control for sleep factor (they were decafe but that still has small amount of caffeine) was not necessarily true to form. So after the experiment I can say with relative security Alcohol as long as I Do Not Binge has no negative effects for my: weight loss or gain, fat loss or gain, sleep effect, or constipation, diarrhea, bloating or pain.

  87. You know, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that I could give up (coffee, my daily light beer, the Saturday night red wine, driving, cell phones to name a few) that would no doubt be good for me, but . . . life is for living, dammit.

    I’ve already dropped sugar, pasta and bread . . . and feel great. But eliminate my nightly beer and my daily cuppa joe? Not gonna happen. Sorry.

    1. I think we all to some extent balance the enjoyment we get out of life with the quality of life as we age. The younger(or healthier) you are the more invincible you feel. As you age or your health isn’t where you want it to be you either justify it and deteriorate as time goes on or do something about it. Most of the people here are doing something whether it’s gathering information and/or applying that knowledge. Good for us!

  88. I felt like I was reading a post written about me! Even the part about waking up around two or three in the morning after having a couple glasses of wine.

    I’m not a regular wine drinker (maybe 1-2 glasses a week, if that) so it’s been pretty easy to tell the difference between how I feel the morning after I’ve had a glass of wine verses when I haven’t. I’ll probably still try to “get away with it” with small amounts occasionally, but alcohol and my gut definitely do not get along.

  89. First I salute you for not consuming alcohol. This is a big step for anyone who drinks.

    Second I know what you mean! We all feel fine, but we don’t know what fine really is until we set the standard by optimizing our diet and daily activities. No one likes to play with changes with their days, who wants to take risks right? This could be another reason why most of us use the common line of “I feel fine, no need to add/subtract anything from my daily life”.

    From personal experiences, I can’t stand the effects of alcohol. Sure a glass or two is fine, but really, how many of those days exist? Most of my friends will want to drink a case of beers or two!

    I can’t stand it because I don’t feel fully functionally during, and after being intoxicated. There is no way I would be able to workout after a heavy night’s drinking.

    That being said, if I ever go to a social gathering or event, I am almost PRESSURED to have a beer, then another then another. Sure you’ll say those aren’t real friends, but who wants to be drunk while their friends are sober? They are just going to feel weird.

    Anyway, GREAT article here!!

    Thank you 🙂

    1. You sound like a recovering alcoholic or a university student. That says more about you than about the “poison” in question.

  90. i am undeniably a better person without alcohol. mind you, i don’t even drink much, but the 1-2 glasses of red a night were doing me way more harm than good. waking up in the middle of the night, my irritable mood, my less than stellar patience with my kids. my skin, my eyes, my brain have all “come alive” since giving it (mostly) up. i am happier (who knew?!), i sleep better……i haven’t given it all up. but it has to be one heck of an awesome glass of wine, or one heck of a party to get me to drink now.

  91. As a lifelong insomniac (since childhood), I can also attest to the troubles that alcohol can cause regarding sleep. It can knock me out initially, but I’ll be up most of the night afterwards. Ultimately, not worth it at all on a regular basis.

    That said, having to give up coffee a few years ago was way much more difficult.

    Aloha,

  92. A month ago I decided to go on a 30 day alcohol fast. I finished up yesterday and celebrated with my favorite beer! Some of the observations I made along the way included the usual; better sleep at night and easier to wake in the morning. On the other hand, a few things I attributed to alcohol, like feeling fuzzy headed and groggy some days, remained. I’m currently tracking my monthly cycle more closely to see how my energy levels and mental acuity rise and fall throughout the month. Thank you for the daily reminders to live healthy and well!

  93. A really interesting read. I starting on the primal diet last August and have had amazing results. My arthritis has gone and I feel more alive and alert. I also lost 28lbs of stubbon fat. However, as the months have gone on I have found myself ‘slipping’. It’s the only way I can describe it.

    In the beginning I cut out alcohol altogether as I had been diagnosed with a fatty liver. But as the months have gone on I have started to introduce wine again. We spend a lot of the year in France and it’s part of their daily lifestyle. However, I have also found that it’s having a negative effect on me. I have regained 7lbs of my ‘lost’ weight and my arthritic pains are creeping back in my hands.

    So….after reading your article I am now going to do my own experiment and go without wine for the next 4 weeks and note what difference it makes.

    Many thanks 🙂

  94. Those of us with methylation disorders can’t go near alcohol anyway. Glad to know “temperance” has additional benefits.

  95. Here’s an idea, all you naysayers–I personally don’t give a crap!!!
    I have no interest in living a million years– like the Sardinians or whatever friggin group that suspiciously falls under your so astute correlation-is-not-causation radar–all the while on my lofty, ivory toilet.
    Is it a fad? Yes. Do people with eating disorders incorporate into their disordered thinking? Sure. I have anorexia and I have no problem telling you that after eating truly normal primal food out of normal cycles of hunger, I find it harder to abuse this particular restrictive eating plan than any other. But to each their own–I won’t condemn something that saves lives for the sake of those who refuse to be accountable for their own recovery. It’s hard, but my self destructive behavior is not anyone’s choice but my own. Whether it be because I just ate a pile of croissants and I know I will be sick for a week, or because I am choosing to eliminate yet another food group in my never-ending quest for a better will power high.
    And as for the subpoint that eating a whole grain diet is curative, let me anecdotally dispel that mental diarrhea as well. I grew up with an amazing stay at home, whole foods loving, vegetarian, plant growing, cook everything from scratch, mother, and yet, I have had these same horrible digestive and correlated syndromes since infancy. My mother has an impossible time accepting that anyone who does not have celiac would not thrive on a grain based diet, but I assure you, eliminating ALL grains but corn has been the only solution I have found. Not to mention, not all of us are from supereuropeanindustrialized gene pools. I am mixed blood, and I have seen more than enough proof in my native community to believe the common sense notion that European foods are frequently poisonous to those lucky colonized souls among us. You’re an ecstatic, pasta shoveling, Methuselahn Mediterranean? then good for you. The rest of us did not choose the colonial dysmorphia nor the distortions of the green revolution nor do we need an endless parade of scientific justifications for living as is natural to the majority of the world’s population, pre-domination–or as I like to call it–THE ULTIMATE FAD–the recent, modern, civilized post-colonial and deeply traumatized Western lifestyle. Don’t even think you can separate all these hyperbolic dietetic micro-environments from cultural imperialism, they are one of many techniques in a long series of handmaidens to subjugation Yep, so glad we caught on to the brilliant fad of development. Ugh….

      1. Thanks:) Of course, now I realize that I posted this awkwardly acerbic rant in response to someone’s acerbic assertions, in the wrong thread. Stupid mobile version! I mutter, while sheepishly shuffling off.
        Hee hee hee.

  96. No way to know until you take a break! Thanks for sharing your experience. I did the same thing, and wrote about my results here:

    http://jdmoyer.com/2013/08/14/40-days-without-booze/

    Since I’ve resumed drinking, I have more zero-alcohol days, and many more days where I have only one drink (I probably averaged two before the experiment). The biggest change is probably that I drink more water now, especially in the evening. Sometimes “wanting a drink” is just plain old thirst.

    Keep up the great work Mark — your site is the first place I refer people when they show interest in changing their diet or becoming healthier.

  97. I love beer, or used to love beer, but since going grain-free I’ve noticed I can’t indulge in beer. Yes, I know it’s grain based, but I used to be able to drink it, but I think that my gut has healed enough sans grains that I can’t drink much beer anymore. Even one pint is hard. The beer tastes heavy, like a hard to get through meal.

    Now I drink dry white wines. I’ve often thought about going without alcohol in general for a month, see how I feel. This post might push me over the edge, make me try.

    Thanks.

  98. I just went about the same length of time without alcohol – about 47 days. I was incarcerated and thus unable to imbibe. I got arrested for taking donations (sheets and stuff) from behind a thrift store. Yesterday I stocked up on wine, drank quite a bit, and it made me feel too tired for my liking and gave me a headache. I was expecting to indulge a bit excessively for a few days but now I don’t want to. I’ve got a stash of wine and I think it will last a while. I’m recovering from exercise and have to get used to walking a lot again so I should probably take it easy.
    I suspect alcohol and vinegar are not good for gut flora since they’re both commonly used to kill bacteria.

    1. My relationship with alcohol has just changed. In the last couple years or so I’ve had a lot of sherry. A lot. There are plenty of times I’ve gone through a 750mL 20% bottle (that’s 150mL ethanol) in a day, and numerous times I’ve had more than that, sometimes much more, even two bottles. Luckily for me, although I’ve had some gut issues and used to have terrible digestion (which is now good enough not to worry about as long as I’m careful with food and especially combinations, i.e. don’t mix fruit and milk) I seem to be able to drink like an alcoholic without incurring any serious gut issues. A lot of alcohol seems to slightly mess with my digestion but I mostly only notice that with pints upon pints of beer with a lot of food, and I seem to be getting more accustomed to it so perhaps my digestive system is adapting or has healed more since I started drinking beer on a fairly regularly basis, as I didn’t drink even drink alcohol regularly until about a couple years ago unless I count age 12 to 14 when I used to get drunk on the weekends if I could with friends.
      So, got a little sidetracked there.. back to the point of this comment.. how has my relationship with alcohol changed?
      No more sherry, that’s how. I always thought it tasted a little too sweet. So sweet I often found it gross, actually. The reason I was drinking so much of it is because it’s the cheapest stuff available, and as a bonus the kinds I got were normally 20% and occasionally I got a slightly nicer kind that was 18%, so it would get me buzzed fast and I wouldn’t have to fill up on fluids until I’m having to piss every 15 minutes. Therefore the taste was a necessary evil (and at times I actually really enjoyed it). However, the sugar code on the one kind I often got until I found a cheaper one, which tasted just as sweet, was 7. I didn’t put too much thought into that and every time I’d decide I should look up sugar codes online to see how much sugar they indicated I’d forget. Then just the other day I did, and I found out something awful: with every bottle of sherry I drank I was taking in about 60 grams of sugar. 60 effin’ grams!
      Enough said. I simply cannot drink that stuff anymore unless I’m desperately craving an alcohol fix and am really low on money. All this time I thought I was reasonably low carb when I guess on average I’ve been more moderate carb (but high sugar).
      Lately though, even before looking up the sugar code, I knew that a lower number meant less sugar so I’ve been getting the cheapest big bottles of red wine with a code of 0. Cheap wine rather than cheap fortified wine is now my drink of choice, with a bit of beer if I feel like it (or times like tonight when I’m staying with family and beer is generally what my brother prefers to buy for us… “brewskys” lol). I spend a little bit more that way but I think it’s worth it and the regular wine tastes better.

  99. We drink dry reds in the evening, and if I have more than 4-6 ounces, I wake with terrible “adrenaline zings” that have my heart racing. If I keep it closer to 3-4 ounces, I usually sleep through the night without waking, depending of course, how much water I’ve drank during the day. When we’ve gone spells without any wine, I don’t really notice any gut changes. My stay-aways are definitely gluten.

  100. My wife and I don’t drink much alcohol and the hardest part of it is the social expectation of it. It’s hard to invite friends for dinner and not drink… it’s like you cannot let them drink alone.

    I loved the routine of a good Porto, some dark chocolate and a book before bed and am looking for a non alcoholic beverage to replace the porto… any suggestions?

  101. I’m 64 years old. I drink two big fat glasses of red wine almost every night with my meal. Sometimes I chase that with an expresso, some dark chocolate and a shot or two of cognac and then go to bed. Generally I sleep really well.
    I’m envious of people who quit though because I think if I did I would probably feel like Superman. I love fine wine but it’s loaded with sugar and quite frankly I’m a bit of an addict so Mark you may have inspired me to give it a go.
    Best to all of my primal family out there!

  102. I love good alcohol but I’ve found it really upsets my gut so… I’m not drinking so much of it which is good- I feel better, fewer calories from sugar, etc. But I recently found that adding a few tablespoons of red wine to filtered water tastes delicious and doesn’t upset my gut! So nice to have a treat and yet not cause myself trouble.

    On the stress front I have some suggestions. Mark, you might try any or all of these techniques for stress reduction: Emotional Freeing Technique, Tapas Acupressure Technique, EMDR and Reiki. I’ve been using EFT for at least ten years now, TAT for about four, EMDR for two and Reiki for about six years. One or a combination of these things can totally zap anything that’s bugging me pretty easily. I wouldn’t be alive without these techniques! EFT and TAT are free to learn off the official websites and from other sites, EMDR needs a practitioner to get you started as does Reiki. I highly recommend these techniques for anything that ails you. I have links if anyone is interested.

  103. Well…as if going Primal weren’t disciplined enough, now we are talking about abstaining from wine with dinner? What’s next…sex? After all, football players are told that having sex before a game could diminish on-field performance.

    Look…Primal theory has done my spouse and me a ton of good. We have more energy, and more LEVEL energy throughout the day. Maybe I’ll try the no-alcohol experiment and be transformed, too. But something about his article has tweaked my inner sense of something else going on here…but I don’t know what it is.

  104. Blows my mind that so many people drink alcohol. Haven’t ever, ever drank more than one glass of wine in a one year period. Not counting 18 years of the obligatory Catholic wine sip every Sunday :p

  105. I find it interesting that people will give up all kinds of things in the name of health.. sugar, bread, dairy, beans, peanuts,.. but always rationalize “a glass or two of wine a night”. A very recent multi-decade study have shown no health or longevity benefits from drinking wine. Alcohol is a drug, and it’s addictive. It’s just been marketed well and has socially acceptable. We are all fooling ourselves rationalizing our daily intake of alcohol. Let’s face it, giving up sugar or bread for life is a lot easier to accept than never having another glass of wine. It’s a powerful drug.

    1. Yes I agree. I consider alcohol, in large amounts, a “hard drug.” What happens if you drink a whole lot? There’s a good chance you’ll be really clumsy, act [drastically] different than you normally would, do something insane, and have a hazy or nonexistent memory of when you were hyper-intoxicated.
      Then again, responsible (meaning careful, controlled) drinking in small or moderate amounts can actually be performance enhancing or helpful in various ways.
      I swear I’ve been temporarily more physically and/or mentally adept many a time from responsible alcohol consumption. It’s helped me do things I probably couldn’t do normally, even occasionally when I definitely did have too much. It can be like an energy drink. For example last summer I passed out under a tarp in an outdoor garden section of a Walmart late at night and woke up still really drunk and then had to get out the way I climbed in, through a gap between the top of a fence and the metal bar above it. The gap was about as high as my head and only a couple feet or so. I was wearing a backpack. I felt tired and uncoordinated when I walked over to the fence and stood in front of it, then stopped and pondered how to get through because I felt too inebriated and lazy to climb. So on impulse I side-vaulted the top, turning my body face-down in the air and stretching it out as I went through the gap to be practically parallel with the top of the fence, and other than my hands I didn’t even touch the top of the fence or the bar at the top of the gap. I had to stop for a moment and think to myself, “Did I just do that???” I don’t think, except maybe for times I’ve been in desperate situations running on adrenaline, that I could have had the nerve and physical oomph! to have done that sober.
      “The dose makes the poison”, Mark said in another alcohol post, and I say the dose makes the difference between the medicine and the drug. (yes I know medicine and drug are pretty much synonyms but you get the idea).

  106. Sorry, I am late to the party (pardon the sort of pun) but my curiosity is for those who have experienced improvements in non-bowel inflammatory disorders, how long did it take? I am sort of the anti-success story, having happily been eating not just primal but low carb for over two years — and really mostly like that for the last 20 years.

    I’ve eliminated alcohol for stretches of various lengths (30-45 days) and then experimented with only adding back things like vodka in club soda.

    I would really like to say that I felt better and my asthma and thyroid etc were better but that would not be true. I’m pretty good at the whole lifestyle (sleep, exercise etc). I guess I’m curious if I need to make a longer 100% commitment to see a difference or if I’m just an outlier. I will be around good local beer this weekend and my n=1 might just be to drink it.

    This is an excellent conversation but I’m sorry I just can’t relate to the people who report quick results and such great sensitivity. Same is true for gluten and grains. Highly-processed carbs with sugar — that’s another matter. They make me sick. And I’m a natural IF’er, eating once a day, and that makes me feel a lot better.

    But I just wonder how long it takes to heal chronic inflammation, managing all its inputs, inc alcohol.

  107. How to resolve contradictions like this, then?

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/secrets-gut-health/story?id=22667996#4

    “Red wine wins again

    Red wine isn’t exactly suffering from bad press—its health benefits, when imbibed in moderation, have been touted for years. But, as it turns out red wine is actually pretty darn good for your gastrointestinal bacteria.

    A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the polyphenols found in red wine have beneficial prebiotics. Just one glass of red wine daily significantly increased ratios of good-to-bad gut bacteria.”

  108. Wow, this is timely. I have been struggling for months, possibly even a couple of years, with my wine consumption. It has become a habit which I justified in so many ways. Funny enough, an interview I saw w/Mark saying he had a glass or two of red wine most nights was one of my more recent justifications. Not his fault, just funny that… I come home from work and immediately pour a glass of wine, you know, to drink while I’m cooking… after all, it’s my reward, isn’t it, for having to come home from a long and tiring day’s work as a dental hygienist to then have to cook a nice paleo dinner. The following morning I am kicking myself when I realise it’s been over a month since I’ve gone w/o a drink. I’ve wondered for a long time if I have an actual problem, or it’s just habit. But I feel it is affecting me negatively in that despite being paleo for a year and a half, I just don’t have that much energy, not like I hear everyone else bang on about. And I have had this bloody sinusitus since before Christmas. Paleo has solved some serious issues for me, namely the debillitating menorhaghia I used to have, so I know it’s don’t some good. But I’ve always wondered whether the drinking was dampening my results. Managed only 3 weeks in January, was feelings slightly more energetic but I probably threw in the towel too early to really confirm this. Hell I even had the thought the other day that even if I did discover more energy and my sinus issues resolved, would I really give up wine except for the occasional drink? I admitted to myself no, I wouldn’t despite the negative effects… scary really that I’m that willing to damage myself… So again just when I was contemplating that maybe I should go teetotal this post came from Mark and I found it incredibly coincidental, more like a big sign shouting at me, esp as it removes one of my crutches, which was Mark’s own drinking! Wish me luck people, I’m struggling and my hubby is absolutely no help w/this, drinks too much in my opinion himself.

  109. Interesting article. I have found that even 1 glass of alcohol severely affects my acne. I’m not sure whether it is due to IBS symptoms as described above or whether it is due to worsened sleep. Most likely a host of factors, but bottom line is that alcohol does not sit well with me.

  110. Great read as usual. Personally, wine is a rare, but much enjoyed beverage. Like anything else, if it is not a high quality cheat, it really isn’t worth drinking, and I have instinctively always made a point of not reaching for alcohol in response to stress. There are two points in Mark’s article that I find most relevant to how we all address stress and the work I do with stress management:

    1) The notion that we need to pay close attention to ourselves, our habits and how we feel and experiment with lifestyle when we do notice ourselves not feeling great (physically or emotionally). Never accept distress of any kind as status quo and irreversible.

    2) That Mark, like so many, “decided to drink a glass or two of wine each night […]to wind down after a stressful day. And that seemed to work very well […].” The issue here, is that instead of addressing stress throughout the day, or even engaging in other stress modification behaviors at the end of the day, the solution was to “medicate” stress with a substance. This is so acceptable in most cultures that we don’t even think about it, but if someone said that they were going to hit a crack pipe, just a hit or two, to unwind we would be all over them for not addressing their stress more proactively. If the glass of wine is a nightly ritual to unwind from stress, maybe we should all be asking ourselves why we are not better managing what life is throwing our way, rather than accepting the need to medicate it. Again, the issue is not with wine itself, or for that matter of fact caffeine or any other substance, it is about how and why we use them.

    Great experiment Mark, and glad to see your hypothesis proved true and you are benefiting from it!

  111. Abstain from alcohol, coffee etc… What good will it do you?

    We are all heading for a dirt nap in the end.

    I thought IBS was something only women suffered from?

    Life is meant to be lived people.

  112. I can relate to this post very much. When I went primal 1,5 years ago I was so happy when I found out that I could drink wine again without getting migraines. So I started to drink one glass of wine on a daily basis. It had no obvious ill effect on my health, I have the best blood test my doctor has seen in years. But what really worried me off lately is that I noticed I had developed an addiction to it. Every evening I was looking forward to my glass of wine to unwind and I don’t like the idea that I need a certain substance to unwind. The problem is it adds up to my other small addictions, like tasting bread or sweets or diet coke from time to time. It seems I’m in real danger of developing food addictions and although my mostly primal way of eating has made me healthy and strong, the knowledge that I’m prone to addiction unsettles me. As a consequence I decided to stop drinking wine regularly. But it seems if I stop one addictive food, I’m triggered to eat a substitue, for example, my sweet tooth takes over and I feel the urge for sweets again that I thought had calmed down or I feel the desire to have a coke. I think I’m not alone here and I have not figured out how to deal with this problem. Every time I think I have conquered one food addiction, some other comes about. I don’t want to ruin my health achievements, so I wonder if other people here have experience in getting out of this destructive process.

  113. Personally, I do drink alcohol but I take a least one month once a year (and it’s becoming more frequent, and longer periods) where I abstain from alcohol altogether. It always feels like a great reset. Earlier this year, I saw this article detailing some of the objective and subjective benefits of a period of abstaining- http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129502.600-our-liver-vacation-is-a-dry-january-really-worth-it.html?full=true

    I found it really impressive that there were this many benefits in such a short amount of time.

  114. So, good timing on this one (I missed it last week, but the timing is still notable)! I have been saying for quite some time I need to do this again. I did give up alcohol for two weeks about a year ago (except one night where my “let’s-give-up-alcohol-for-two-weeks-partner” suggested we have one night since we both had had a stressful week. Unfortunately, I paid more attention to how many people were in shock and awe over my decision to do go without alcohol than to how I felt.

    Time to change that. More people than just myself have noted that it would probably be very good for me for me to try that again. I will try it out again, too. I will remove the remaining temptation in my home (a few drams of scotch) and then begin!

  115. I am on my 30 th day without my evening wine. I stopped because I was sick with Bronchitis. I also stopped my daily dose of ice cream. So no sugar at all. Prior to getting sick I’ve been hard core Paleo except for the above indescretions. A lot of my aliments have disappeared except for some skin issues with my feet. That issue is now fixed. After reading your enlightening article I never thought my daily glass or three or bottle would be of any consequence.
    The plan now is to continue with my illness protocol and see where it takes me.
    Thanks
    John

  116. I’m confused. Did you or did you not have alcohol for 45 days? If you give it up, then you can’t have it here and there. What does here and there mean to the reader?

    I really enjoy your posts, but I think you should try not having any alcohol for 45 days straight, then reintro to see how you feel 🙂

  117. Definitely what I was looking for. I had an experiment going for a month with respect to red wine consumption. It had some negative effects on me and I’m letting it go. I’ll see how it goes in the next month. Did you experience any weight loss after giving up daily consumption of wine?

  118. I did a Whole30 (actually a W46) and wine was easier to give up than I thought it would be. Once done, wine was the first thing I reintroduced. I always sleep like the dead no matter what but found that wine actually DOES disturb my sleep. A little wine every now and then is okay, but for the most part it’s just not worth it to me anymore.

  119. I found out I had Candida overgrowth, causing me all sorts of problems even though I have been wheat/grain/dairy and sugar free for more than two years. My functional medical doctor was the only one who figured this out. I never drank much, but did drink a glass of wine maximum, two to three times a week. On the Candida diet she gave me, she said no wine! I hated giving up my moderate pleasure, but want to help my body be healthy so I have been wine-free for three weeks now. It’s not hard at all. I enjoy a nice cup of herbal tea at night instead. I even went to my daughter’s graduation weekend/parties and stayed the course. I do think my gut (and I”ve had gut issues for 30 years) feels even better now. I was tested by Cyrex Labs (or whatever it’s called) and was found to have some markers of Leaky Gut. I also have autoimmune issues, but not full-blown disease. I am willing to give up wine forever if I have to, but do hope at some point I can have one glass per week. Anyone with Candida overgrowth should quit until they get the candida under control!

  120. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but in traditional Chinese medicine the liver detoxes and rebuilds between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. The 2 to 3 a.m. waking after drinking wine the evening before makes perfect sense from that perspective. I have something called “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”, and I also wake each night between 2 and 3 a.m. as my liver struggles to detox. It will be a long time before my liver is healthy again, as fatty liver takes years to resolve, even with pristine diet and a low-toxicity lifestyle.

    Unfortunately in Western Medicine and lifestyle, the liver is completely undervalued, and it’s role in healthy digestion and body cleansing almost systematically overlooked. It is, inarguably, one of our hardest working organs, and integral to both digestive and mental health. In Ayurvedic medicine, persons with liver disorders are said to have “deep sadness”, and the liver is associated in most Eastern medicinal modalities with processing emotions, and holding on to old anger and grudges causes liver issues. This also makes sense since most of us drink that wine to relax because we cannot clear emotional issues. The wine masks the stress, the emotions aren’t dealt with, and the liver becomes toxic.

  121. I was like you…. my boyfriend and I would drink a bottle of wine a night and sometimes 2! I think we could be called alcoholics.

    We wanted to try quitting for a while after reading this. The hardest part was the first night and not opening the bottle. But we did it and I am truly amazed.

    I am sleeping so well and that started the first night! I am excited to see other changes as well.

  122. Mark,
    How can ethanol affect gut permeability if it absorbed thru the stomach lining and metabolized in the liver??? It never sees the intestinal wall. (I am talking about moderate consumption, not binging.)

  123. After going lowcarb, I can’t have any alcohol without my blood sugar spiking and crashing like a rollercoaster. I get much more drunk from one glass and much, much more tired after it. Doesn’t matter how much protein, fat or carbs I eat (although I do still try to avoid the “bad” starches even when drinking).

    Maybe it’s me being almost 40 in combination with going lowcarb, but I’ve read tons of comments on facebook from others experiencing the same change, almost an intolerance, to alcohol.

    It’s really a pity because I love the taste of both beer and wine. And I miss the endorphin rush and carefreeness I used to feel when I was younger and before going lowcarb. But I guess my body is telling me I really have reached the limit (I did use to binge quite frequently during my twenties).

  124. Starting to drink good quality red wine (encouraged by the previous information on this site) has affected my health in a positive way, reducing my awful digestive problems and my debilitating extreme PMS which was ruining my life. For the last two months I have been drinking a small amount with dinner, and a half glass later in the evening. I can now actually move after eating whereas before I was in pain trying to digest a meal, and I am ‘normal’ and well-balanced mood-wise, whereas before I was easily prone to depression and emotional outbursts. I am awaiting results of test for h pylori, which I believe may have been causing me a lot of health problems and the red wine seems to be helping to keep them at bay, maybe by increasing necessary stomach acid and also by reducing excessive estrogen levels??? So I am confused by this latest post…

  125. Mark,

    I am also a lifelong IBS sufferer (self-diagnosed, but almost exact same profile as you). Like you, I got almost total relief by going primal, but there have been a few “trouble areas” where, if I venture into them, I get relapses. For a long time, I knew alcohol was one of those areas. Having a daily glass or two of wine, I knew, was bringing my symptoms back (and once inflammation is induced in the gut, other foods I could normally tolerate would instead exacerbate the inflammatory symptoms, sometimes inducing a downward spiral). So, I basically cut alcohol out completely as well. I found this very sad. But the story doesn’t end there.

    I have recently discovered that one of the main “multipliers” of gut reaction, at least in my case, is histamine. I suspected this after noticing reduction of inflammatory gut symptoms for years when I took gen-2 antihistamines (like ceritizine or loratadine), but it was only recent additional testing that confirmed I had become hyper-sensitive to histamine.

    A few months ago I began addressing this with a gut specialist, who advised me to take 6 grams of buffered vitamin C a day (I had taken C before, but never in such quantities).

    I immediately saw a huge reduction in my overall gut sensitivities — vitamin C helps rapidly break down histamine, which is cumulative in the body. Later, I followed this up with oral histamine drops (which substitute for shots, to actually de-sensitize the immune system to histamine). This gave me further improvement, as some histamine will always be generated (normally) by the body, it reduces exaggerated sensitivity to that histamine.

    Here’s where alcohol comes in. I did additional research and discovered alcohol is a histamine agonist in the gut. Big puzzle piece falls into place! This would naturally be extremely bad for people who have long-term inflammation in the gut, which has likely produced (1) a build-up of histamine, and/or (2) a histamine hypersensitivity. The result of this would naturally be amplified inflammation, increased food sensitivities, and increased autoimmune symptoms (and some not classically considered such, like environmental allergies — mine went away after introducing the above histamine-directed therapies!).

    So, cutting out alcohol had been helping with the histamine component of my gut issues.

    But here’s the happy ending. Now that I know WHY alcohol causes its issues in me, I can remedy them: I just pop a 1000mg buffered C pill before having a glass of wine, and I’m fine (so far I still limit to 1 per evening, but may venture up to 2 with this method).

    I still would advise caution about quantity, but I suspect you (and others like you) would be OK with 1 glass semi-regularly, as long as it is paired with the extra C to prevent histamine build-up.

    (Side note: I also earlier began adding drops of hydrogen peroxide to glasses of wine to oxidize the sulfites, since I discovered I had sulfite sensitivity as well. That helped a lot but did not clear up ALL symptoms. Note it is now possible to buy organic red wines with NO DETECTABLE SULFITES, which may help IBS sufferers who don’t want to go to the trouble I did with the H2O2 droplets).

  126. I’m suspect way more people use cannabis that care to admin. It’s hard to argue with the emerging evidence. Once we get past the propaganda war on weed there will be much to celebrate.

    1. Yeah, there will for sure. I hope it gets legalized in Canada (or at least my province, Ontario) in my lifetime. Seems like it might. If not, maybe I’ll find a way to get a prescription. Not that being able to legally use it matters much though. The best thing about that would be it would be easier to get when I don’t know a dealer or contact to go to and the freedom not to have to hide out in little ravines, parks, alley, or wherever when I want to use it, even though I’d probably likely do that a lot anyway, since a lot of the [slightly] hidden spots are often the best spots. There’s nothing like getting ripped out of your tree in a forest.
      I don’t see how anyone can approve of alcohol and disapprove of weed, even though a lot of hypocrites do, but I won’t write an impromptu little essay about my views on these subjects – this is not really the comment section for that.

  127. Little has been said about the kinds of wine. I have very different intestinal reponse to heavy reds compared to light whites. I believe some intestinal issues are not due to alcohol but to other components of wine. I have found that Spanish Albarinos anid New Zealand sauvignon blancs rarely cause problems. Many reds cause me intestinal problems as do heavily oaked chardonays. Then there is the famous red wine headache to explain. So I refuse to acknowledge that alcohol is the only or even the principal problem.

  128. Thank you for this! I pretty much gave up alcohol about 6 months ago after reading Sara Gottfried’s The Hormone Cure. I had noticed for awhile that even a glass or two really affects my sleep. If I have any now, it’s a one celebratory glass before 7pm so I can process it through before bedtime. I feel better…still doing the 2-3am wake up thing though, so I’m looking at other possible causes. I’m glad to know that this has helped you sleep through, because it gives me hope that I’ll someday find and eliminate the cause of my restless sleep!

  129. My boss 14 years ago, mentioned his annual ritual of going 6 weeks with no alcohol or sweets for 6 weeks after new years day. Since we were in sales you can bet we had our excesses shmoozing clients through the holiday season.

    The one thing I took from that job was that ritual. Every year, right after new years I go booze free for 8 weeks as a habit over the last 14 years. For the last 4 I’ve been asking myself “why do I continue to go back to drink after?” Mostly I drink the occasional tequila or vodka shot with water or juice or a glass or 2 of red wine (consuming mostly on weekends). Every time I have even just one little drink after 4pm, I’m sure to wake up with a little slight headache (not even worth taking a painkiller for). I never get hangovers anymore because I can’t stay awake long enough to drink that much. My tolerance level has plummeted compared to my youth.

    All I can attribute it to is the enjoyment when you get that one special wine bottle that has the “perfect” taste. It doesn’t always happen even with next one of exactly the same year. The other thing maybe some underlying hope that if I keep trying, maybe someday the “fun” from alcohol consumption will return to what it was when I was “young and cool”.

    And yes I get a noticeable plugged nose when I have a drink.

  130. I am totally going to try this alcohol-free experiment along with you guys. I think the benefits of simply not touching alcohol outweigh the potential benefits of drinking wine, red or white, because you are what you put into your system. Not only that but it helps the wallet too, and provides a decent enough challenge with everyone already dependent on substances for comfort and happiness.

  131. Is there a follow up to this article? Eight months(ish) later: is Mark still not drinking? Long term experiences? Etc….

      1. Ha! I asked about a follow up almost a year ago out of curiosity, and hadn’t thought about it again until a microscopic piece of a bear that frequents the Pacific Northwest told me I need to have more patience.

  132. I took a 365 day break from drinking alcohol in 2014 and I’ve reintroduced over the last 5 months. The benefits of going booze free are countless, at least for me. All facets of my life improved.

  133. I hardly ever drank until my early 30s. And even when I did, my only problem it seemed was waking up at 3 AM every once in a while.

    But as I got older, and started drinking nearly every day, things changed significantly, and for the worse. I started to have diarrhea from time to time, once I got up to 7 drinks a day.

    Then I saw an ad on TV for Align, the probiotic, and started taking that. It helped a lot, almost got back to normal, but then for the first time in my life I started having audible rumbling noises in my gut. It never entered my mind that it might be from the probiotics – I just assumed it was the alcohol.

    Well, it is hard to stop drinking when you do it every day, so instead I started taking activated charcoal before meals. That killed the audible grumblings (which was my main concern, to avoid embarrassment). But I continued to drink, despite frequent trips to the bathroom stall and frequent pimples, especially on my nose.

    I had tried Primal eating off and on for 3 or 4 years. I would be strict for a week and then have some gluten-free pancakes on the weekend or some birthday cake at an office party. Cake at the office was always accompanied by activated charcoal, before and after, to avoid the rumbling, which I still thought was purely alcohol-related.

    In September I finally decided to go Primal for good. Almost immediately the grumbling went away, along with diarrhea. It takes lots and lots of hard liquor to make those symptoms return, as long as I follow a Primal diet strictly. Also, if I do get a pimple from drinking, it goes away in just a few hours if I have been strictly Primal for a few days.

    Today, however, Mark has taken alcohol off of the sensible indulgence list and put it on the toxic things to avoid list. So now I have to quit drinking if I want to be strictly Primal.

    Well, it is probably for the best, since all of that alcohol can’t be very good for me.

  134. Thank you for this, Mark. I am on day 2 of a 30-day alcohol free diet. I’m looking forward to the health benefits…and who knows, maybe I’ll leave it out of my diet for good. 🙂

  135. Thanks for posting this. I’m googling around to see “what I can get away with.”

    I suppose I can give up grains and sugar. I’m almost 40, after all, and it might be time to give up my 2 cupcakes a week habit as I am not a 5 year old at a birthday party.

    But the nightly wine… that’s the tough stuff.

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis so I don’t really have much choice anymore. It’s gone from being a vanity issue to needing to protect my colon integrity.

    Looks like a no booze challenge is in my future too.

    #sigh

  136. Hello…yes I’ve also given up alcohol for the last few months as a challenge.
    Feeling productive and peaceful. Wasn’t easy as I was often tempted on a weekend with no one to cuddle with…but I decided to find an alternative reward.
    Still moving forward on this challenge.
    It’s a great experiment. Looking better…lost weight…look forward to the mornings and my sleep improved.
    I kept this challenge to myself and that worked the best.
    It’s for me!!!!

    1. Hello… I know this is old…but if anyone out there can help with suggestions or ideas…
      I went WHOLE30 more than a month ago…which means I have eliminated:
      Alcohol, grains, sugars, soy, dairy, processed foods, snacking, etc.
      Since my bloating hadn’t changed, I also elimated:
      Eggs, nightshades, FODMAPS, all fruit, all nuts, coconut, avocado
      Still no change…so now I am trying:
      Boiled organic chicken with stock (boiled no more than 3 hours and only seasoned with sea salt / boiled green beans, boiled spinach, boiled carrots, and green onions.
      I am now consuming this 3 x per day.
      Still bloated…from pubic bone to breast bone.
      Day 34…