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What alcohol is Paleo?

Commented on May 06, 2014
Created May 04, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I am in my first week on the Paleo diet. I've been doing very well over all. My question is what alcohol is Paleo? I know beer is out but I have found contradictory information about wines, gin, etc. So I'm throwing this out to you guys!

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 06, 2014
at 03:43 PM

I guess those are some good arguments. The unfortunate thing is that it's hard to show this with hard science. Perhaps abstinence is more likely to be practiced by people with pre-existing health and social issues? That would be an interesting confounding variable.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 06, 2014
at 03:38 PM

Perhaps it's a result of hormesis but you can't deny the evidence. Carcinogens exist in all kinds of healthy foods. What I want to know is how does moderate alcohol consumption effect daily functioning as well as health and longevity.

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 06, 2014
at 05:28 AM

I just found it an interesting statistic. Japan has the highest average life expectancy by country and the lowest tolerance for the toxin by country. It looks like the gene (@ rs671) was an evolutionary adaptation which was positively selected for increased protection from some food toxins / diseases and spread with the expansion of domestic rice.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2197794

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on May 05, 2014
at 11:26 PM

completely agree with this. alcohol is the most powerful carcinogen we ingest. your liver is not happy either. sure, I drink some, but I am under no delusion.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2014
at 08:56 PM

I just noticed it and then looked into it and saw some confirmation in studies. I believe they involved increased ethanol toxicity with zinc deficiency. Really though, pretty much anything involving enzymes (i.e. everything) is going to work less well without zinc.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 06:03 PM

Now that's really interesting. Leave it to Travis to pull a compelling theory out of left field. Did you come up with this or read it somewhere? I'm actually cutting back on red meat to minimize leucine and methinoine but supplementing with either oysters or zinc picolinate...

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:58 PM

Are you suggesting that because Japanese have a longer average life expectancy, and half of them have this allele that limits their capacity to process alcohol, that somehow this suggests not drinking will make you live longer? Now you're really reaching... With all due respect Paleot...

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:55 PM

Imo, the benefits of social relaxation with alcohol combined with a healthy sense of self-control and fully-functioning metabolism allows light drinkers to show benefits compared with heavy drinkers / non-drinkers with probable health & self-control issues. But, for those with a great social life and other frequent antioxidant drinks, I don't see why avoiding a carcinogenic neurotoxin / cardiotoxin would increase your mortality. If abstinence increases stress/anxiety, then, I guess you wouldn't want to practice it. I see the asian model as a faster way to see cumulative damage.

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:21 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy (Nearly 50% of Japanese have the ALDH2*2 allele and cannot convert the carcinogenic acetaldehyde metabolite of ethanol into acetic acid, causing a flush reaction, which limits their consumption.)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12170111

Medium avatar

(10611)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:13 PM

Cider, wine and mead. I can live with those.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:59 PM

You're absolutely right. I did point that out but should probably have made a more bold warning.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:39 PM

But... how so? Moderate drinking is associated with reduction in all-cause mortality risk. Time and time again people try to fish some confounding variables out because they just can't accept that a small amount of this toxin is beneficial while a large amount is harmful. I don't know why it's hard to accept. We know of plenty other things that are toxic if over-consumed but beneficial in moderation. Why not alcohol?

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:23 PM

This article might help to justify your non-drinking but only in the sense that abstaining probably won't increase your risk of mortality, even though light drinkers tend to have a decreased risk when compared to non drinkers...

http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/human-capital-blog/2013/08/alcohol_and_lifeexp.html

So if you chose to not drink, I won't try to make you start. If you drink a lot, I'll try to make you stop. If you drink in moderation, I'll applaud your discipline and pat you on the back.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:12 PM

It's funny because I almost WANT someone to prove me wrong. I'd have no problem giving up alcohol and it'd be one more way to improve my healthspan (if only it were) but AFAIK it still looks like the benefits could outweigh any slight risk of costs...

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:12 PM

The last one seems to suggest that you shouldn't drink too much if you have thyroid problems, or something thereabouts. Still doesn't show that a couple drinks is harmful. While I applaud your effort and admit that at least one study raises some fairly small concerns, I have still yet to see any convincing studies suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption has more costs than benefits.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 03:06 PM

The fourth one is a meta-analysis whose results are questionable, especially in the face of countless confounding variables. Yet it does raise some questions I might actually look into. Bravo! The fifth one readily admits from the start that they're trying to disprove other studies that have shown the opposite of their hypothesis. In the end, it looks like their results were inconclusive and not controlled for confounding variables. Maybe people with smaller brains are more likely to disregard CW and have a couple drinks? And why was it protective in elderly? What does the U curve suggest?

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 02:59 PM

Perhaps some people shouldn't drink (Asians or others with genetic predispositions) but the first study says just what I said, <3 drinks a day is usually harmless. The second one seems to suggest that Asians are more prone to the effects of alcohol on a fairly rare form of cancer. It's common knowledge that many Asians have trouble processing alcohol. The third seems to focus on acetaldehyde which has many sources, among them the oxidation of ethenol. Moderate alcohol consumption shouldn't be much of an issue here, especially if your body quickly processes it.

0f8f77156cd0667d43194fc4b8bc3b5d

on May 05, 2014
at 01:44 PM

"most beers are virtually gluten free" - please be careful if you are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, "virtually gluten free" will still cause gastric upset, gas, bloating, and villous atrophy for many of us. My rule of thumb, if you starting passing gas after your drink of choice, that is your gut begging you to stop and pay attention.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:37 AM

Alcohol is not paleo. It is a poisonous substance that is preferentially dealt with by your liver. @Methodician you kid yourself if you think alcohol is harmless

Two drinks max for a man of decent size, one drink max for women. btw... a dose of 1-3 drinks per day is quite a range.

I think the amount & frequency of drinking you propose greatly outweighs those minor amino acid tweaks you were interested in........

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 05, 2014
at 01:11 AM

The reason to avoid grain-based alcohol would be the alcohol in there.

Alcohol-free beer, FTW.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18947976

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 05, 2014
at 01:04 AM

(I do get a little bit of incidental Etoh in my lightly fermented foods / condiments / probiotics, but I'm not drinking the stuff made specifically to have a buzz-worthy supply.)

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on May 05, 2014
at 12:45 AM

Most of my family is allergic or intolerant. Just about all of us. So, none of us drink. As far as I'm concerned ethanol and it's metabolites are toxins, and I don't typically drink toxins for healthy beverages.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16187278

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21190191

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19396661

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22910838

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19330800

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18031329

(Note, I'm speaking more about ethanol itself than Etoh+Antioxidants)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 05, 2014
at 12:14 AM

Very odd you obsess over other minutiae, but a couple drinks (literally grams of toxic ethanol) are ok?

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 04, 2014
at 11:27 PM

That seems like a silly study. They showed that intravenous alcohol and glucose is a bad mix. I'll remember not to shoot up glucose and alcohol.

Naturally, the alcohol will be preferentially metabolized for energy because it's a great way to get it out of your system. Show me a study that proves drinking in moderation causes problems.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 04, 2014
at 11:25 PM

IMO there's no reason to avoid grain-based alcohols because the gluten doesn't make it into the end product in any appreciable volume. Unless you're severely allergic, then beer is out, and you should look for triple distilled grain spirits.

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5 Answers

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Medium avatar

on May 04, 2014
at 11:14 PM

I've been paleo for a few years and experienced a dramatic health transformation. Let me just say: there's nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation. If you lack the self control to keep it to a drink or two (and on rare occasion maybe 4-4.5)... then it might be best just to avoid it entirely. A drink or two, AFAIK, is harmless. Even at considerable frequency.

<Edit>

I originally refrained from pointing out that alcohol is actually good for you because I don't necessarily believe that every abstainer should take up drinking (even heavy drinking appears to reduce all-cause mortality risk, but also seems stupid). However, those familiar with my activity on this forum know my obsession with healthspan and lifespan extension and called my habit into question for this reason. Moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. There, I said it. That's not why I drink, but it's why I don't quit. Prove me wrong - I dare you.

PS: Alcohol is especially important if you have a personal or family history of cardiovascular problems. Or if you're concerned about a high-fat diet like Paleo.

Just don't get drunk guys. Drink, but don't get drunk. IT'S REALLY THAT SIMPLE.

</Edit>

I say drink in moderation and you'll be fine. Eat clean and avoid alcohol for a few days then try a couple drinks of various things (not all on the same day) and see how you react.

For me, beer is out (used to have it frequently). I think it's got more to do with the carbonation than anything else because most beers are virtually gluten free (but beware if you're severely allergic). I feel better without it though.

I say stick mostly to red wine and liquor. With liquor, be careful about sugary mixers. Quality spirits can be nice on the rocks after some ice has melted. I usually have some spiced rum or tequila with coconut water for a convenient and relatively healthy alternative. The tequila/coconut water will benefit nicely from freshly squeezed lemon or lime. Gin is also nice. It doesn't really matter what the alcohol was fermented from because distilled liquor lacks much residual substance from its source.

Keep in mind that pure alcohol itself has almost as much calories as fat (about 7 per gram). 3 ounces of brandy, for instance, has about 196 calories and most beverages come with additional empty calories added on (sugar usually).

In moderation, with a minimum of empty calories added on, I just don't see the issue here. I can't for the life of me find any reasonable academic or scientific material to justify the 100% demonetization of alcohol. Before you know it we'll be back to the prohibition if all the ideological bro science isn't put to rest. If someone wants to show me some convincing studies suggesting that 1-3 drinks per day do significant harm I'm all ears.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:37 AM

Alcohol is not paleo. It is a poisonous substance that is preferentially dealt with by your liver. @Methodician you kid yourself if you think alcohol is harmless

Two drinks max for a man of decent size, one drink max for women. btw... a dose of 1-3 drinks per day is quite a range.

I think the amount & frequency of drinking you propose greatly outweighs those minor amino acid tweaks you were interested in........

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 05, 2014
at 12:14 AM

Very odd you obsess over other minutiae, but a couple drinks (literally grams of toxic ethanol) are ok?

0f8f77156cd0667d43194fc4b8bc3b5d

on May 05, 2014
at 01:44 PM

"most beers are virtually gluten free" - please be careful if you are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, "virtually gluten free" will still cause gastric upset, gas, bloating, and villous atrophy for many of us. My rule of thumb, if you starting passing gas after your drink of choice, that is your gut begging you to stop and pay attention.

0
Medium avatar

on May 05, 2014
at 05:04 PM

I'm of the opinion that the toxicity of alcohol has a lot to do with an individual's zinc status, since the activities of enzymes related to its processing (alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) are downregulated during zinc insufficiency and deficiency. I notice a dramatic difference in my ability to process alcohol when my zinc intake is higher.

Because more paleo diets are heavy in red meat, I would expect alcohol to be less toxic.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 05, 2014
at 06:03 PM

Now that's really interesting. Leave it to Travis to pull a compelling theory out of left field. Did you come up with this or read it somewhere? I'm actually cutting back on red meat to minimize leucine and methinoine but supplementing with either oysters or zinc picolinate...

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2014
at 08:56 PM

I just noticed it and then looked into it and saw some confirmation in studies. I believe they involved increased ethanol toxicity with zinc deficiency. Really though, pretty much anything involving enzymes (i.e. everything) is going to work less well without zinc.

0
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 05, 2014
at 02:27 AM

"What alcohol is Paleo?" perhaps...

rotting (fermenting) fruit...?

fermented honey...?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on May 05, 2014
at 05:13 PM

Cider, wine and mead. I can live with those.

0
Ede167512744dbbeb0869761759474e7

on May 04, 2014
at 10:49 PM

Technically, none.

This might help: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-alcohol-fits-into-the-paleo-diet.html

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 04, 2014
at 11:25 PM

IMO there's no reason to avoid grain-based alcohols because the gluten doesn't make it into the end product in any appreciable volume. Unless you're severely allergic, then beer is out, and you should look for triple distilled grain spirits.

Medium avatar

(624)

on May 04, 2014
at 11:27 PM

That seems like a silly study. They showed that intravenous alcohol and glucose is a bad mix. I'll remember not to shoot up glucose and alcohol.

Naturally, the alcohol will be preferentially metabolized for energy because it's a great way to get it out of your system. Show me a study that proves drinking in moderation causes problems.

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