Alternatives to Alcohol and Natural Mood Enhancers [Episode #417]
Welcome to the Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder. Our goal is to help you be your most healthy, confident, beautiful and happy! Our topics focus on health (physical, emotional/mental and spiritual), wellness, holistic nutrition, beauty, meditation, spirituality and personal empowerment.
Feeling Good means we tune in to our bodies and our intuition, including making food and lifestyle choices to feel energized and beautiful, what serves us and what doesn’t, and being in flow along our unique journeys. Feeling good naturally leads to also looking good, in a much more powerful way from glowing skin created from within, a beautifully strong body, radiant energy, and a level of peace and confidence in our perfectly imperfect lives.
Once a month, I do a Solocast with my insights, as well as current research on a trending topic from our community, to support you in living your most beautiful, inspired and joyful life.
I’m your host, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist. I’m so grateful and honored we found each other!
Today’s solocast topic is: Alternatives to Alcohol – Natural Mood Enhancers
We are entering the holiday season, which is often filled with excess. Whether it be excess of gatherings and parties, or shopping and gifts, Western culture tends to really overindulge during this time of year. This is really concerning for one consumption in particular – alcohol.
We live in a society that promotes the consumption of alcohol. The temptation to drink can be easily heightened when attending seasonal festivities where we see friends partaking. Or we may not even realize all of the countless advertisements commercials and billboards secretly hinting to us to consume more alcohol.
Topics Covered In Alternatives to Alcohol – Natural Mood Enhancers
#1. About the not so good that comes with alcohol
#2. Why people reach for a drink
#3. The Sober-Curious that is on the rise!
#4. How Taking Time Off Drinking Can Visibly Benefit You
#5. How Taking Time Off Drinking Can Physically Benefit You
#6. The Many Alternatives to Alcohol That Naturally Enhance Your Mood
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Kimberly: Hi Beauties, welcome to our Monday solocast episode, where our topic today is alternatives to alcohol, natural mood enhancers. So as you beauties know well, we are in the holiday season, pretty much. I mean, it seems to start earlier and earlier every year. I saw Christmas trees out a couple weeks before even Halloween. So, it is very much in the air. There are more parties, there’s more situations, there’s more get-togethers, there’s just a lot more alcohol that’s probably being thrown in your face. So today, we’re going to talk about some really interesting research around alcohol, around mood, and some really great alternatives to imbibing.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: But before we get into it, I want to give a quick shout-out to our fan of the week. Her name or her name is, sometimes it’s hard to tell, Argelia B. And he or she writes, “Kimberly’s wisdom and realness energizes me. Her perspective and guests are inspiring and excellent. Listening to Kimberly’s sincere voice while cooking or walking my dogs is my treat to self. Although I’ve never met her, I consider her a mentor and I love her, and I’m grateful for her for making me feel special. The Feel Good Circle audio and video is something that I love, and Recipes For Your Perfectly Imperfect Life sits on my kitchen counter.”
Kimberly: Argelia B, I love you too. I am so grateful for you for being part of our community, for really immersing yourself with a podcast, and getting into our Solluna Circle, and also checking out my latest book and simply being you. So, thank you so much. I really do feel that we’re all connected, that we’re all here for a reason together to help support each other in moving forward. So, sending you a huge virtual hug, Argelia B, and I hope we do get to meet in person one day.
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Kimberly: And Beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, please just take a moment or two out of your day and leave us a review on iTunes. It’s free, it’s super easy to do. It’ll probably take one minute out of your day. It could just be a one-sentence review. But it’s a huge way to support the show energetically and it helps other beauties like you find this information that could really benefit their lives. So thank you so much in advance. And another quick reminder to make sure that you please subscribe to our Feel Good Podcast here. That way you get a constant stream of inspiration and motivation coming in every week with our Thursday Q&A podcasts and our Monday interviews or solo casts.
Kimberly: All that being said, let us start talking about alcohol. So, I will say on a personal note that I have had a long up and down relationship with alcohol. I definitely drank and partied a lot in college. I’m not going to lie, I was a huge partier for all of college. I had fake IDs. I definitely started drinking pretty much the whole time. I worked hard, I played hard, I studied a lot, I had really good grades, but I definitely partied. And I went… This was part of the period where I did gain a lot of weight. I was, I mean, it’s funny to say now, but I share with you guys a lot. We had keg parties at my house senior year, and I would do keg stands and drink a lot of beer, and vodka were sort of my go-tos. Since then, when I went traveling around the world, I didn’t drink so much. And then, I’ve had some alcohol but it hasn’t been crazy. Since then, it’s been mostly enjoying wine at dinner, going out a little bit, maybe having a little bit more vodka.
Kimberly: But it’s really tapered off the past few years. And I pretty much haven’t even had wine, I would say, in the last year or so. And it’s sort of like when I was in the midst of eating cheese and pretzels and my favorite foods, I never thought that I would actually have a life where I didn’t drink because it was such a big part of my social life. It was such a big part of my just weekends. So I couldn’t really imagine it. But I will say that I definitely still go out to dinner and I hang out and I do beach walks and I hike and I see friends. It’s a lot of times in a different context now. A lot of my friends are my mom friends and play dates, but still, it’s funny when you shift away from something that it starts to become more and more of a non-issue. So, that’s my personal journey of alcohol.
About the not so good that comes with alcohol
Kimberly: Let’s talk in a general sense about, I just want to remind you, we’ve all heard that alcohol, of course, is very toxic and very damaging to our body. And I just want to give a couple quick facts before we dive into some other aspects of this topic. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has long warned us that prolonged alcohol consumption is detrimental to our brains, our heart, our liver, and many other organs. And I would also add to that, to our skin. When we are ingesting such a toxic acidic substance as alcohol, it definitely affects our collagen. It definitely affects, I believe, the rate at which we age. And we’ve all had that exp… Well, maybe not all of us, but I’ve certainly had that experience and maybe you have too of waking up the next day after drinking and your skin just doesn’t look great. You may look puffy. There’s a dullness to your skin. So, just imagine that compiling over days and months and years. And you can see that from a beauty perspective, alcohol is extremely detrimental as well.
Kimberly: It affects our brain by interfering with our communication pathways, and this can really disrupt our mood and our behavior. Drinking alcohol over time makes it harder to think clearly and to move with coordination and, of course, it affects our focus. Alcohol unfortunately also affects our heart. Drinking over the long term can damage our heart, including being associated with issues such as arrhythmias, irregular heartbeat, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy, which is the stretching and drooping of the heart muscle. Now, here’s a big organ that it of course affects, which is our liver. And heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, which can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations, including fatty liver, alcohol hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
Kimberly: So again, in the bigger picture, remember that our liver is performing hundreds of very important functions in our body, including it’s our main detoxifying organ. And when we load it up with a toxin of alcohol, it’s not going to efficiently be able to detox all the environmental toxins and everything else that’s coming into our life and into our bodies. Therefore, we start to accrue more toxicity, which again, is disruptive to all our organ functions and is also very aging. So, it’s unfortunate but true, alcohol is not our friend when it comes to health, beauty, aging, wellness, all around.
Kimberly: Finally, our pancreas. Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that eventually lead to pancreatitis. And this is a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion. So, we talk about digestion so much here in our Solluna community. We know that digestion is a huge part of our energy and our well-being and our vitality. And so imagine even from this standpoint, alcohol is also interfering.
Why people reach for a drink
Kimberly: So why is it that we love to drink so much, or at least some of us? There are many factors associated with drinking that have been shown to enhance our mood. But this is really interesting. Researchers from Britain compiled over 2 million responses in an app they developed to find out if people report actually being happier when they are drinking. And they found the results showed that the happiness levels depended on what other activities people were doing at the time. So for instance, drinking had the greatest impact when it came alongside otherwise unenjoyable activities such as commuting and waiting. So, sometimes I’m in the airport and I just look at all the people drinking at the bars in the airport or even on the plane and I just think, “Oh my gosh, traveling is already so hard on your body. How could you drink on top of that?” It just seems like it would totally just devastate my body. But when you look at the research and people are trying to enjoy an experience that maybe they feel bored during or it’s just not as enjoyable, that’s where the alcohol could be like a crutch.
Kimberly: The same study also showed that alcohol only increased the happiness of already enjoyable activities by smaller amounts, such as making love to your partner and socializing. So I think this is really interesting because a lot of us reach for drinks in social situations, maybe to ease tension or maybe to feel like we are going to have more fun or it’ll allow us to dance easier or have an easier conversation. But here’s where I really have noticed since I’ve cut out drinking personally from all social situations, even that presence and being really present to who you’re talking to and resting well. So going in feeling your full energy are ways to really enjoy those situations without alcohol. And I mean, I got to be honest with you guys, I don’t miss it at all. So, I think it’s one of those things that we think that we need. And then like, geez, and then it goes away and then we realized that we don’t need it as much as we thought we did.
Kimberly: Finally, this same study, again from Britain with over 2 million people, found that the happiness boost from alcohol was only fleeting and was not linked to long-term satisfaction. So this is again that bandaid effect where we’re just trying to get a little high, a little bit of a mood shift, but it’s not really satisfying. It’s not really going to give us the depth that we’re looking for. And so, when we look at it that way, we really want to work on longer-term solutions.
The Sober-Curious that is on the rise!
Kimberly: Now what’s interesting on the flip side is the sober-curious trend is on the rise. And many Americans are looking to reduce their alcohol intake. In fact, according to a press release from this year, 2019, published by the leading source of data and intelligence on the alcoholic beverage market, IWSR, people are paying greater attention to their mental health and wellness and looking to drink less alcohol across the board. According to CNN, people of all ages are drinking less beer. Beer is on the outs and millennials are drinking less overall. So, there is this trend of being sober. There is this trend of being more mindful of the impact of foods and beverages and all aspects of our lifestyle on our body. And I love to hear that generations are starting to drink less alcohol. I think that’s a very positive thing. I know that I over-relied on it a lot in college to sort of relieve my stress after studying really hard or maybe to fit in or to feel like I had to have fun that way. So I love to hear that. That’s starting to really shift.
How Taking Time Off Drinking Can Physically Benefit You
Kimberly: Now, when we do take time off drinking, I want to talk about some of the amazing benefits that you will experience. This has come from research from 2018, from last year, from the University of Sussex, which surveyed 1,715 people who had attempted Dry January. So in February, they surveyed all these people. And they found that 88% saved money. Of course, we know that’s obvious. 70% felt healthier. Now here’s a big one. 71% slept better, which is a huge, hugely important, impactful part of our healthy lifestyle. 67% felt they had more energy. Of course, their body wasn’t working to metabolize all that alcohol. 58% lost weight. 57% felt they could concentrate better, and 54% said their complexion had improved, over half surveyed.
Kimberly: Going back to, again, how everything is so interconnected and what we’re ingesting and what we’re drinking will show up on our face. It will show up in our skin. There’s just no getting around that. We can’t take a magic pill or even as powerful as our feel-good Solluna skincare products are, you can’t just paint it on and erase it. It really is built from everything that we’re doing and putting in. So, one of the unfortunate aspects here as I mentioned is that it very much will affect the way that you look as well.
Kimberly: So, let’s talk about one more research study. I’m really hammering this in with you guys. I think this is all really interesting to note how others in the community benefit when they try different things, when they try giving up something, when they try shifting their lifestyle. And then we’ll go into the alternatives. This is also from Britain. That seems like Britain has done a lot of research on alcohol. I know it is traditionally a big drinking culture. I have spent many months in Britain both studying in Oxford one semester and then I worked on a film there for four months in a row. I have been around a lot of British pubs. So, in a 2017 experiment, published in the British Medical Journal, scientists studied a range of health measurements in 94 people who took a month off, compared to 47% who did not take a month off drinking. And they found that those who abstained, those who gave up drinking, on average experienced a reduction in insulin resistance of about 25% and lost about 4.5 pounds as well. Other health metrics such as blood cholesterol improved as well.
The Many Alternatives to Alcohol That Naturally Enhance Your Mood
Kimberly: So, again, there’s so many different aspects of this: organ health, sleep, vitality, energy, skin health, an easier time losing weight. I’ve really covered a lot here in a short amount of time. I don’t want to keep hammering you with information. I think you very much get the gist, and you know already in your heart of hearts that alcohol isn’t perhaps the best thing for you to put in your body. But remember, as with everything in our Solluna VDD talks philosophy, we say that it’s not all or nothing. If there’s moments and times when you really do want to have a drink, make your best conscious choice, drink as cleanly as possible. There is a wonderful alcoholic, for alcohol, company out there called One Oh One, and it’s not kombucha because it is based in apple juice, but it’s basically just fermented and it creates a 6% alcohol. So it’s like a beer but it’s 100% juice.
Kimberly: And then they have Pop Culture. They have a different brand coming out, which has different adaptogens added in and medicinal mushrooms. So, that is starting to, I’ve seen it here in LA and I’ve seen it start to grow. So if you are going to drink, that would be a cleaner option, as is organic wine with no sulfites added. So make your best decision but remember that there are so many opportunities not to drink at all, and there’s so many great options and ways to feel good and ways to feel social and ways to enjoy times with friends without necessarily going out for a drink.
Kimberly: So let’s talk about some of these alternatives. One of them is adaptogen drinks. So, there are so many sorts of mood-enhancing drinks out there now, starting in health markets. If you go to Whole Foods, if you go to more and more of these larger grocery chains are starting to have more wellness products. But adaptogen drinks are designed to boost your mood and help just make you feel good. They’re mixed with adaptogens, tropics, herbs. One example is a brand called Kin Euphorics, out of Silicon Valley, so you can keep your eye out for some of these fancy interesting beverages.
Kimberly: Of course, there’s always good old kombucha, which is very easy to find and it’s fizzy and has B vitamins. It has some probiotics, although they are not necessarily resident-forming. I wouldn’t rely on kombucha for a probiotic source, but as an alcoholic alternative, I think it’s a nice fun drink to sip on while you’re talking or hanging out and that’s, again, very easy to find. I would just make sure to check the label and try the lower-sugar kombucha brands and varieties and flavors because there are some that are actually quite high in sugar.
Kimberly: Now, there are out there apple cider vinegar tonics and these are very interesting because they can help boost your metabolism but they’re also associated with relaxing you and helping to soothe anxiety. This is because apple cider vinegar or ACV helps to release tryptophan, which can help with sleep and a more peaceful mood. Tryptophan is basically converted into serotonin, which again regulates mood and can reduce irritability. So, see how you like them. I personally prefer kombucha over the apple cider vinegar drinks myself. I don’t love how they taste, but I certainly know people that love them and enjoy them. So that could be a great alternative, again, just for giving you some benefits mood-wise as well as health-wise as well.
Kimberly: Now there’s this whole category of drinks called mocktails. And if you love a very beautifully put together cocktail, then you could try it without the alcohol mixed in. We have actually three different cocktails at the Four Seasons here in L.A., in Beverly Hills, on Doheny that use the cold-pressed juices from our Solluna juice bar there. One uses our Feel Fresh juice. One uses our Feel Cleansed juice. So, if you go there and you want to try a beautiful cocktail, I mean, I’m not a cocktail expert per se, but Christian, our bartender there and I worked together and he was using different muddling herbs and using lime and just, they’re beautiful and fresh. And of course, you can enjoy them without adding the alcohol and the tequila. So, try a mocktail. They’re satisfying, they’re beautiful. They can feel very artisanal, very special. But again, you don’t necessarily need the alcohol component to go with them.
Kimberly: And finally, on a completely different note, I think a lot of the reason that people have a glass of wine at home while they’re making dinner or they’re just trying to just relax, is to chill out, is to have a little bit of a come-down after a long workday or a long day running after your kids. So instead, you could try making a turmeric tea or golden milk latte. Turmeric has been shown in studies and research to improve depression and mood. It can help influence the neuro-transmitters of serotonin and dopamine that are responsible for creating a good mood. There’s also something very soothing about having a latte at the end of the day, with healthy fat like from coconut milk or hemp milk. And it can feel very grounding. It can give you that mood shift without the alcohol.
Kimberly: Now, there has been some discussion lately about turmeric being sourced from India in relation to lead and some heavy metals. So remember that you can get organic really high-quality turmeric as well from places like Hawaii. And you can really just check around your sources and make sure you know where the turmeric is coming from. I met this amazing farmer, Kelly, who is a friend of my friend Forest and she’s a turmeric farmer in Hawaii. And we’ve talked about this quite a bit and I source my turmeric from her. So, just something to pay attention to in this day and age. Just really looking at who is sourcing your food, including your spices as well.
Kimberly: Another thing that I want to talk about to enhance mood that’s not even beverage-related. So, again, alcohol is something that we look to, we can rely on and consequently, over-rely on to shift how we feel, to help us feel better. But remember different activities can also do the same thing for you. One of them is exercise, just moving your body feels so good and pumps oxygen to your brain and it gives you that natural energy and you can get an actual endorphin high. You can get adrenaline levels going in your body, it can help reduce cortisol. It really has an effect on your hormones, and it’s so natural and it’s so amazing. Just dancing in your living room for a couple of minutes to your favorite song.
Kimberly: Or my favorite is walking. I’m just a huge walker now. I love to walk everywhere. It’s felt the best to me ever since I’ve been pregnant, it’s been my go-to. But maybe just going for a quick bike ride or a quick swim if you have access to a pool or whatever. But just move your body a little bit and again, that could give you the high that you’re looking for without having to put the toxic alcohol in your body.
Kimberly: Next is a hot bath. And this is one of the best ways to relax at the end of the day. I also love combining hot baths with essential oils like bergamot, chamomile, lavender, basil, cloves. The hot water also helps to just let your body detoxify. You can also try some Epsom salts. You can just really unwind in a bath, you can light candles, you can make a whole ritual out of it and it’s a really beautiful thing to do at the end of the day. And again, no alcohol required.
Kimberly: Finally, my favorite of all that I talked to you guys about so much and I cannot help but mention this here is meditation. And I think about how much power we get when we align to our inner light, to source. And we feel so confident, we feel so good, we feel so just simply relaxed and comfortable with ourselves, which again, I think is a big reason a lot of us, I know for myself would drink alcohol because I felt maybe a little bit socially awkward or I felt like I would be more fun if I drank. I feel that when I meditate and I can tap into myself, and again source, and just get that energy and I do feel more confident. I feel more balanced. And I just feel more resilient, I feel strong. And it has really helped me just not need the alcohol at all. Of course, meditation also helps with our moods. It helps to alleviate depression, it helps with focus. There’s so many beautiful benefits of meditation.
Kimberly: And again, I just think it’s all interrelated. Everything does affect everything else. When we have a really solid routine and we’re waking up and doing our morning ritual and drinking our hot water with lemon and getting into meditation right away and then also at the end of the day, using that to relax and unwind. Or maybe doing some sort of mini-meditation when we get home from work. We find that we need to rely less and less on external sources of validation and external objects and means to shift our energy. And food cravings, alcohol, little hits we get, little dopamine hits we get from likes on social media, these are still all external means. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy them sometimes, but we want to start relying on ourselves to feel good. We want to start getting that validation from the inside. And meditation is the most powerful way that I know to do that.
Kimberly: So remember beauties, we have some free meditations for you guys over at mysolluna.com. Of course, we have new fresh meditations every month in our Solluna Circle where we talk about food, body practices, emotional being, and spiritual growth, our four cornerstones through every monthly theme. And I’m really excited about, we just mapped out the themes for the next 12 months to go with the seasons, to go with just what’s happening in the greater cosmos, to go with the lunar and the solar and the planetary. Everything is so interrelated to go with the equinoxes. So I’m really excited about the circle and if you guys haven’t checked it out yet, you can get the information on our site as well. We have an online circle and we’re starting to do more and more in person, in different cities.
Kimberly: Well, Beauties, I hope that you liked our solocast today. I certainly packed in a lot of information for you guys. If you’re on the fence, if you’re thinking about exploring being more sober, even if it’s part of the time, I think this is a great time to try it out. And again, think about some of the alternatives we talked about today. Stock them around in your fridge. When you go out, you can ask for different things like the mocktails. You could try different activities to shift your mood and go from there. Again, it’s not all or nothing, but it’s a great time to be really conscious if and when you do want to drink. And again, remember that there are amazing other alternatives for you.
Kimberly: So, thank you so much, beauty, for tuning in as always. I love our sacred time together. I’m always here for you. I’m always listening. Remember, you can ask questions for us on the website as well. I answer four every Thursday. We’ve been getting such amazing questions from you beauties lately. So go to mysolluna.com/askkimberly and you could submit your questions there. Until then, take amazing care of yourself. Enjoy this beautiful season of fall. Slow down. Take some time to journal and breathe and meditate. And I will see you back here in just a few days for our Thursday Q&A podcast. Take care and I love you.