5 Reasons Why You Should Drink Non Alcoholic Beverages in Lockdown
With pubs and restaurants closed, people queuing around the block to get into a supermarket, and endless news reports of the grim reality that is CoronaVirus / COVID-19, one could be tempted to take to the bottle. The other day I went shopping and it seems clear by the state of trolleys that many are doing exactly that. At first, we only joked that Prosecco or beer was an essential item, but apparently this brave new world needs some Dutch courage. But if there was ever a time to watch our alcohol intake, now would be it.
Let me share 5 reasons why making the switch to non alcoholic drinks can help get you through lockdown.
1. Immune response
Even moderate amounts of alcohol affect immune responses to pathogens. Whilst there is still much research to be done on this, alcohol is clearly no friend in a pandemic. Keeping your immune system in tip top condition is no guarantee that you won’t be affected by COVID-19, but with no medication currently able to combat it, it would seem reasonable to look after our inner treatment centre. We know that beer, for example, contains a great number of minerals and vitamins that are vital for our health. Alcohol though destroys Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex. Fortunately, with a great range of non alcoholic beverages on the market, we can still get the health benefits without the alcohol. If we are going to win this fight against this unseen enemy, we need to be at our healthiest. I'm also conscious that every bit we do helps ensure the healthcare system doesn't become overwhelmed. Maybe this can be a positive step for ourselves and for others?
2. Reduce calories
With little to occupy those in lockdown other than binge watching boxsets on Netflix, and the fridge far closer during the working hours than usual, piling on the pounds has become far too easy for many in the privileged position of having a full larder. Lethargy and depression are not uncommon for those in isolation and it is understandable that there is little motivation to exercise when hibernating on the sofa until it all blows over seems tempting. Alcohol contains calories. Lots of calories. 7 calories per gram. To put this into context, pure fat has 9 calories per gram. Did you ever do the peanut experiment in school? Setting fire to a peanut to measure how much energy it produced stuck in my memory. Now consider how brandy burns on top of your Christmas pudding. If you’re not getting enough exercise, all of that energy has nowhere to go…
3. Improve mood and productivity at home
Alcohol is well known to lower mood and reduce productivity. The body sees it as something that shouldn’t be there and reacts accordingly. I think we have to bear in mind that it is probable that we are all experiencing a fair amount of ‘culture shock’. This is a phenomenon that occurs when those patterns of life we are so used are disrupted. Missionaries gets this when returning from overseas. For us, everything is different. How to shop, how to interact, how to work. We are getting used to using video chat, queuing 2 meters apart to get into a supermarket, going out only once a day for our exercise, home-schooling with no playdates, and dealing with daily bleak updates - but it comes at a cost. Just like those returning missionaries, many of us are feeling unusually tired, and our productivity has taken a nose dive. Some say culture shock is responsible for as much as a 40% drop in productivity, though many of us at the moment may be feeling that number is substantially higher!
This whole thing is stressful in so many ways and to add alcohol into the mix now, as tempting as it may be, is likely to exacerbate our poor mood and poor productivity.
4. Avoids dangers of alcohol dependency
‘I need a drink’ is a common phrase seen in many movies. The phrase has become synonymous with dealing with stressful situations. Does it work?
The World Health Organisation estimates that in 2010 there were 208 million people with alcoholism – 4.1% of the world population at that time. Alcohol is a tremendously addictive substance that ruins health, families and lives when we become dependent on it. I have worked with alcoholics and their families and seen first hand the damage it can do. Most of those under the power of this drug started off with ‘I need a drink’, progressed to a daily evening habit, and then escalated to a serious addiction. Seeking ‘oblivion in a bottle’, ‘drowning sorrows’ or just ‘taking the edge off’ becomes a soul-destroying need that obliterates reason. Of course, I am not saying that everyone who drinks alcohol will develop a dependency, but put together stress over health concerns, lockdown, job uncertainty etc etc and you can seen how easily it could start. A colleague who has recently lost over a stone on Weightwatchers, said to me that she was starting to realise how much she was eating during the day...and also how much she was drinking. The occasional glass of wine had quickly been replaced by many glasses of wine on a daily basis. She was visibly worried about how quickly and easily this had occurred. She's far from alone.
5. A pick me up
Okay, so we’re not all drinking boiled water from the local stream yet. But it’s nice to have a beer / spirit / cider without the effects of the alcohol. For me, a glass of good beer is a synonymous with relaxation, enjoyment and a bit of luxury – alcohol doesn’t need to be part of this equation. Survivalists often discuss the need to flavour food and drink to engage our brains as well as our tummies. We may be in lockdown, but our taste buds aren’t! Recently I’ve been enjoying the NABs that I had waiting for me in the fridge. I’ve particularly started craving hops for some reason – maybe it just reminds me of the great outdoors of which I now see so little of. A case of Punk AF is now depleted and the Brooklyn’s and Heineken 0.0s are gone too. I wish I’d stocked up on Zot Sport – one of my favourites, and a case or so of St. Peter’s Without for those days when only malty ale will do. On the cider front, I’ve yet to find better than Holly Go Lightly for my personal taste, but I’m down to my last bottle of that now. If you are a spirits drinker there are also plenty of zero alcohol options out there to pick you up and get those taste buds working. Unfortunately, all is not so good on the wine front. Belle & Co make some fine sparkling drinks reminiscent of wine, and Scavi and Ray is a pretty good Prosecco substitute, albeit on the sweet side. However, no-one else has yet sent me anything I could recommend to you. Sorry...
Writing this article I am very conscious that in the grand scheme of things, what we do and don't drink is far less important than helping our neighbour through these uncertain and worrying times. Be it those working on the front line, those struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills, or those for whom isolation is so desperately lonely. now is the time to think about others and 'do our bit'. However, to do that we need to stay healthy in body and mind, and maybe just maybe these words may help a little.
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