Oh my goodness we are a healthy lifestyle service with a Drink Less pathway and I am about to talk about how it's OK to drink alcohol, I can see my Drink Less colleague Laura, covering her ears now. Four out of the five original blue zones drink alcohol regularly and live a happy and healthy life! (There I have said it, sorry Laura!)
As you might have guessed though, I am not giving everyone a free drinking pass, but let’s look at how it works and how culturally we can sometimes have a different relationship with alcohol to our Blue Zone residents.
One of the identified blue zone areas is Sardinia, who are famous for their daily consumption of red wine from grapes grown locally, known for producing, high levels of flavonoids (antioxidants). In fact two to three times more than other wines.
It is believed Sardinians who regularly drink in small doses, with good friends and good food might be a reason for Sardinian men having fewer heart attacks and lower stress levels. Please note and pay attention to that last sentence however, it’s the whole package of behaviour around alcohol consumption not just the alcohol itself. Sardinia is notable for its diet, whole unprocessed foods such as vegetables, pulses, olive oil, nuts and whole-grains, fresh fish and low meat consumption. So please do not think that your lifestyle choices in all other areas can be poor and this red wine is a magic elixir that will cancel out all other poor lifestyle habits, it needs to be part of the whole package. For Sardinians daily movement is also very much part of their lives with walking most places and no car to be seen.
Culturally you can see the differences above, no Viking drinking your 14 units on a Saturday night here, just 1 to 2 glasses a day. It is important to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings and the role alcohol plays in your life. You might want to ask the following questions:
Do I drink because I am bored?
Can I just have one drink, or do I not know when to stop once I start?
Do I drink as an escape from past trauma’s or the stresses of my daily life?
Have I just got into the habit of having several drinks when I get in from work?
Do I drink alone more often than not?
Has peer and social circles influenced the amount I drink?
Answering yes to any of the questions above, doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious issue with your alcohol consumption, it may just mean that some small changes may improve your long term health by not regularly over consuming your 14 units per week. By paying attention to our drinking habits we can enjoy a happy and healthier relationship with alcohol.
If you would like to know more our Drink Less pathway is here to help, no stigma attached, our coaches aim to support you to make any changes important to you and offer simple factual information to help you with those changes. You can find out more here