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Yeah, we'll take an IPA instead of that glass of chardonnay
Well, well, well. It looks like the whole beer-swigging male stereotype is about to shatter; just as female brewers are producing kickass craft beers across the country, young women are getting in on the beer game as well, and it's not just at frat parties with kegs of Natty Light.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that young women are the new consumers of beers, especially craft beer. According to a Gallup poll, beer is now edging out wine as the alcoholic beverage of choice for women between the ages of 18 and 34 (although we hope they really mean 21 and 34). BeerPulse.com also reports that craft beer sales have doubled in the last six years, and that many craft beer customers turn out to be women 25 to 34 years old. In fact, female craft beer fans have gone so far as to create blogs, Facebook groups, and more to spread the love.
So why the sudden love? Julia Herz, craft beer program director for Colorado's Brewers Association, says that craft beer is an affordable, artisanal commodity that's cheaper than wine but still high-end and delicious. And if that means we end up with some awesome women schooling men on the difference between ales and pilsners, all the better.
There is mounting evidence that alcohol, and wine in particular, triggers hot flashes.
The mood swings. The sleepless nights. The public hot flashes. The experience of perimenopause can be so stressful, who could blame us for wanting to decompress with a glass of wine… or two? But anecdotally, many women say that drinking actually makes those mood swings, hot flashes, and insomnia worse. And doctors warn that alcohol can be more dangerous the older you get, especially for women. Now why would wine do you like that, just when you need it the most?
This may be hard to hear, but it may be time to re-think drinking through perimenopause. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad news. Here’s what you need to know about alcohol and the midlife transition.
On the whole, men still drink more than women do but we’re well on our way to catching up. Alcohol use is growing among women of all ages. But what’s especially concerning is that the prevalence of binge drinking is rising among post-menopausal women.
As it is, women are less alcohol tolerant than men are. This is partly because our bodies are smaller. But we also have less alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol in the stomach. Plus, that enzyme is relatively inactive in the liver of women. As a result, we tend to absorb far more alcohol into our bloodstream than men.
Meanwhile, as we age, our bodies lose water volume. As a result, we are less able to dilute any alcohol in our systems. That makes us that much more vulnerable to its effects.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) defines high-risk drinking as more than 7 drinks a week, or more than 3 on a given day. They break it down by types of alcohol:
Note that a single cocktail may go over these daily amounts. For example, a small martini is equal to 1.5 drinks, while a margarita may be the equivalent of two drinks. So, if you enjoy a cocktail one day, consider abstaining the following day or two.
Heavy drinking is more dangerous as we age. It’s associated with the following health risks:
Alcohol has been known to disrupt the sleep of both genders. But women appear to be even more susceptible to insomnia after drinking than men.
So that’s heavy drinking. But what about moderate drinking? There appear to be a few health benefits:
The type of alcohol could also make a difference. In a 2011 study of men and women ages 51-81, low-alcohol beer was found to be bone protective for women. (In contrast, distilled spirits seem to lower men’s bone density, but red wine seems to minimize their bone loss.)
The effect of alcohol on hot flashes is more complex. Many women say drinking alcohol – especially red wine – triggers hot flashes, and there are a number of small studies that seem to hold up to that claim. But where you are in your transition seems to matter.
Surprisingly, a 2007 study showed that perimenopausal women who drink had a lower risk for hot flashes compared with women who never drink alcohol. The researchers measured the participants’ sex hormone levels and noticed that they were not affected by alcohol use. So, it’s not that drinking changes hormone levels in a way that reduces hot flashes. Rather, it could be that higher blood glucose levels are decreasing the hot flashes.
“We initially thought it could be because alcohol is inducing enzymes that metabolize estrogen, causing low estrogen, which is a risk factor for hot flashes,” says Dr. Jodi Flaws, a professor in comparative biosciences at the University of Illinois. “However, our analysis doesn’t support this concept.” She says alcohol could be affecting other hormones besides estrogen. “It is also possible that the alcohol is causing dilation of blood vessels, which could be linked to hot flashes.”
Other studies have shown the opposite – increased risk for hot flashes and night sweats for women who drink, especially among postmenopausal women. So, the effects of drinking on hot flashes may depend on where you are in your menopause transition. If you’re postmenopausal and wondering why you’re still having hot flashes, alcohol could at least partially be at fault.
Regardless, whether alcohol triggers hot flashes varies widely by individual. You may have already figured this out for yourself.
If you’re thinking of cutting back, or even quitting altogether, you have plenty of alternatives besides the same old soda or cranberry spritzer. Non-alcoholic cocktails and beverages are on the rise. These new drinks offer more sophisticated, adult flavor profiles and are often low in sugar. You can also order many of these options online.
Now might be a good time to get into craft beer, especially since it may be bone protective. Keep an eye out for brews on the lower-ABV scale, and check out the new generation of non-alcoholic beers, such as those from Athletic Brewing Company. We’ve come a long way from O’Doul’s.
Aperitif culture is also on the rise. Aperitifs are a class of drinks low in alcohol and sugar traditionally enjoyed before dinner their counterparts, digestifs, are enjoyed afterwards. Think of a glass filled with citrus slices and tonic with just a half ounce of gin–or soda water with a splash of sweet vermouth, or newcomer Haus topped with mineral water.
As for wine, anecdotally, the dryer the red the worse the hot flashes. Is it the tannins? We don’t know yet. And, of course, it varies from one woman to the next. Natural wines, which contain fewer sulfides, sweeteners, colorings, and other additives, may agree with you better. But again, there’s no data to back that up, yet. Regardless of what’s in your glass, let moderation be your guide.
Red wine and better heart health? Yes, it really is true! One study in particular—published by the journal Molecules in 2019—concluded that moderate red wine consumption has a clear effect on reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This is due to the phenolic compounds in red wine, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce insulin resistance and decrease oxidative stress.
However, the American Heart Association does make it clear that typically regular wine drinkers are seeing a positive heart health response because they are likely living a healthier lifestyle, which includes following a healthier eating plan like what you would seeing the Mediterranean diet.
According to a study published by the Oxford Academic journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, moderate alcohol consumption (even if you count beer or spirits) has been linked to raising your "good" HDL cholesterol. Plus, another study from the journal Diabetes Care says moderate alcohol consumption can lower the risk of diabetes. Both of which play a huge role in heart health.
It's also important to point out that "moderate alcohol consumption" can mean more than just red wine. The AHA says that alcohol in moderation means having one drink per day for women, and two drinks a day for men. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or around 1 ounce of a spirit.
Experts have new recommendations for moderate drinking.
Photo by: Diego Eidelman / EyeEm / Getty Images
Diego Eidelman / EyeEm / Getty Images
For the last five years, the recommendation for alcohol consumption among men and women has been two drinks per day for men and one per day for women. You've probably come across headlines touting potential benefits of alcohol, but the truth is, consuming alcohol in moderation is not known to contribute to health benefits. And if you don't drink right now, there's no concrete evidence to that shows starting moderate alcohol consumption will make you healthier.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are revised every five years, and 2020 marks a new revision. Prior to the release, an extensive scientific review committee is charged with evaluating research on topics new and old and making recommendations for what the guidelines will include. Here’s what the science experts are saying about alcohol consumption for men and women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six in 10 American adults suffer from chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, cancer or obesity. Various factors contribute to the prevalence of chronic disease including poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption. In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines the recommendation for alcohol was a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women, if you choose to drink. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquor (like rum or vodka). And no, you can’t accrue your weekly drinks to have seven or 14 drinks on a Saturday night.
In addition, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommended that that those who do not drink should not begin to drink because they believe alcohol would make them healthier.
According to the new report, the evidence shows that drinking less is better for health compared to drinking more. In addition, the research found that among people who do drink, men are more likely to drink more than women. In addition, among folks ages 20 to 64 years of age, alcohol contributes more than 20% of total calories from beverages. As such, the committee made the recommendation to lower the guideline for men to a maximum of one drink per day. The recommendations for women of a maximum of one drink per day remained the same.
However, Taylor C. Wallace, PhD CFS, FACN is CEO at Think Healthy Group and a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University disagrees with the recommendation. “The original protocol for alcohol and all-cause mortality included studies from 2000 to 2020, but was later revised to include only studies from 2010 to 2020 due to timing constraints. Systematic reviews of the scientific literature should never be conducted in this manner and should reflect the entire body of evidence,” says Wallace.
In order to define what “moderate drinking” is, Wallace recommends conducting large randomized clinical trials as opposed to using observational studies. “We need to do our homework before giving pseudoscientific answers based on theoretical models verses what people really consume.”
Bottom Line: You can enjoy alcohol, but in moderation. The committee reports recommendations provided to the government may not make it into the final 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. Only time will tell.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.
Ladies: how do you feel about drinking? Do you think overachieving women tend to drink more? We haven’t talked about this for a while, but it’s been on my mind with various news articles I’ve seen, and with the holidays coming up I thought we’d discuss.
(I don’t want to totally rehash my thoughts from our 2010 discussion on this, but I still agree with all of them…)
First, the articles and propositions I’ve been thinking about:
Women drink a lot, particularly high achievers. There have been numerous articles over the years (WSJ, Gothamist, Real Simple) about how high-achieving women drink — a lot. A reader linked to this fascinating article in The Atlantic about drinking as an escape from perfectionism.
It’s becoming more accepted these days that you can recognize a drinking problem (or at least, wanting to drink less) without identifying as being addicted to alcohol. Lisa at Privilege just updated her post about cutting back drinking — I think she’s gotten a ton of pushback over the years to the idea that anyone who “needs” to drink less isn’t an alcoholic.
YET, there have been numerous articles about how Alcoholics Anonymous really isn’t that great for women (see Jezebel, but also see The Atlantic), and there’s been an increase in articles and programs about how to drink less or otherwise drink moderately (Real Simple, Drink Smarter, Moderation Management, Moderate Drinking, Caitlin Padget). I often think about Gretchen Rubin’s theory on abstainers vs. moderators in relation to this, also.
Public health guidelines on drinking may seem… severe. One of the things that Lisa notes is that the recommended number of drinks per woman is no more than one per day or 8 per week for men it’s two a day. (Forbes actually has a great roundup of the myriad — and conflicting — guidelines out there.)
One glass of wine a day always strikes me as a nice goal — but I’m more likely to accomplish the “no more than 8 per week” by abstaining several nights. Yet when I saw this recent news story about champagne and dementia — suggesting that “moderate consumption” of three daily glasses of champagne made a dramatic difference in keeping dementia at bay, I thought, “geez, that’s a commitment,” mostly because I’m not a huge fan of champagne.
It now looks like that study was misreported and they meant three glasses a week — I suppose that’s more doable (pending further research, obvs). #goals
For my own $.02: I absolutely drink too much, at least by the “no more than one drink a day” standard. (I probably drink about 15 drinks a week on average.) I can’t think of a woman I know who doesn’t. Part of that is New York culture — and part of that is definitely Big Law culture, where I got my main drink on — drinking with friends from law school mostly, but also drinking with colleagues at afterparties and non-work outings.
(Another article I think about often: This poor woman lawyer, who got so drunk she almost wound up losing her arm. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky that nothing crazy ever happened to me.) I had no problem stopping drinking during my pregnancies or while nursing, but I was happy to pick it up again when we were done.
These days, I generally know my limit as far as hangovers go, and I don’t drink to excess often, but I’d still like to cut back — in addition to all those general health reasons, drinking is hands down the biggest saboteur to my diet.
(I’m back to WW, but in the past I tried the slow carb diet specifically because it allows two glasses of wine per day. For me it didn’t work — my husband lost 20 pounds extremely easily, while I lost and gained the same 2 pounds over and over again.)
As far as drinking and legal culture goes, a good friend and I were discussing this (she’s a former attorney), and she had these wise thoughts to share:
FWIW I do remember feeling pressure to drink as an attorney, but not as an escape – rather, I wanted to impress the older male partners at the firm. It seemed like a way to get in with the old school – have a scotch or two at the office at the end of the day, try to learn a few tricks of the trade, etc., show that I could hold my liquor ‘like a man.’
Similar motivation to wanting to learn how to golf – like that would have made a damn bit of difference!
Once my partner actually ordered me to drink wine at lunch we were on, and I came back and had to put my head down on my desk. I never got in with the old school anyway so my big plan failed.
In terms of moderation — at the moment my husband and I try not to keep full bottles of liquor in our home, and we’ve found that we really don’t do well with a Bota Box (even though it honestly is one of my favorite wines as far as taste!), but we indulge in cocktails when out, occasionally buy a few airplane bottles of whiskey, tequila, or gin to keep in the house, and almost always have at least one bottle of wine available.
Pictured above, some ideas on how to moderate your drinking: Caloric Cuvee, Mr. Picky Stemless Wine Glass (the brand has several options available), and Wine-Trax all $9-$19 at Amazon. I’ve also talked about how much I love the beautiful cocktail glasses from The History Company because they’re generally smaller!
This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
I also try to focus on portion control — I have one glass that holds exactly 4 ounces of wine, and I try to use that whenever possible. (Almost every other wine glass we have easily holds double that!) I’ve searched in the past for glasses specifically focusing on portion control, and it looks like there are more options available now, as well as the more comical options that existed in the past.
As of 2021, I’m getting much better about drinking mocktails!
Some of our favorite non-alcoholic drinks and things to add to plain seltzer (we love our Sodastream!) include:
I don’t know, ladies — what are your thoughts? Do you drink too much? Would you be embarrassed if someone else (e.g., your parents or a younger sibling) found out how much you drink? Do you have rules around drinking? (One of my big ones when younger was “never drink alone.”) Have you ever tried to moderate your drinking, either successfully or not? (And: any plans of attack for the holiday season?)
Kat Griffin is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Corporette. You can read more about her here.
Anxious that she didn’t know how to raise kids “perfectly,” Bowman turned to alcohol, hiding bottles in her closet, her boots and in the laundry room because “that's safe — my husband never went in there,” she said.
White wine was her drink of choice — the perfect camouflage since it would seem impossible to the outside world that a mom of two could become an alcoholic if she was just drinking a lovely vintage, Bowman noted. She was relieved to find many parenting groups on Facebook considered wine to be “medicinal” — a perfectly normal part of a harried mom’s routine.
At her worst, Bowman drank about a bottle of wine a day, sometimes imbibing additional drinks, perhaps a cocktail or two, she recalled.
If you&rsquore concerned about your drinking and want help, start by calling the free, confidential, always-open hotline of the federal government&rsquos Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (800-662-4357). The service offers referrals to local treatment centers, support groups, and service-based organizations, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence also provides a 24-hour referral service that can direct you to help within your area (800-622-2255). And AA&rsquos website allows you to search by zip code for the location of a local meeting.
If you have to develop a liking for beer, you have to either get drunk or have have memories of beer. This is because beer’s taste is acquired by the brain trying to gather the emotions and other reactions based on your first time. And since it is a lot cheaper, men while hanging out as a group stock beer instead of wine. Thus they acquire a taste for it, due to experiences.
Beer may be central to Australia’s sense of national identity, but it’s the not the country’s most popular alcoholic beverage: that honour goes to wine. While 37.6% of Australian adults drank beer in any given four-week period last year, 45.1% drank wine. And the primary reason for wine’s dominance over beer? The number of Aussie women who drink it.
During 2015, 4.6 million Australian women 18+ (or 49.0% of the adult female population) drank some kind of wine – white, red, sparkling and/or fortified – in an average four weeks, compared to 3.7 million of men (41.2%). White wine, consumed by 69.3% of female wine drinkers over this time period, wins out over red wine (56.3%), sparkling (42.3%) and fortified (9.3%).
Obviously, many drink more than one type of wine: in fact, 18.4% of female wine drinkers drink red, white and sparkling wine in any given four-week period.
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=7,621).
Male wine drinkers, on the other hand, are more likely to drink red wine (78.1%) than white (58.4%). They are dramatically less likely than women to drink sparkling wine (24.6%), much more likely to drink fortified wine (15.4%) and somewhat less likely to drink red, white andsparkling (15.6%) in an average four weeks.
Although women far outnumber men when it comes to wine-drinking incidence, the volume each gender consumes is fairly similar. Two-thirds of female wine drinkers and nearly 63% of their male counterparts report consuming less than 15 glasses of wine per four weeks.
“Australian women love their wine and, while especially fond of the white and sparkling varieties, do partake in red and (to a lesser extent) fortified wine as well. While the proportion of women who drink wine has fallen slightly over the last decade (from 51.8% to 49%), the decrease in male wine drinkers has been much more marked (from 48.1% to 41.2%).Beer remains the clear favourite among Aussie men, consumed by 58.1% of them in any given four weeks.
“There is frequently a social dimension to Aussie women’s wine-drinking: over 45% consume it in a licensed venue (for example a bar, pub, restaurant or festival) and nearly 41% drink it at friends’/relatives’ homes. In contrast, 34.6% of male wine-drinkers consume it ‘on premises’, and 32.5% do so at friends’/relatives’ homes.
“Not surprisingly, however, the comfort of home is the most popular place to enjoy a vino, for male and female drinkers alike (85.5% and 80.3% respectively).
“Less expected, perhaps, is the relatively similar volumes of wine consumed by both genders in an average four weeks, even at the high end of the range (43+ glasses). With the recommended daily alcohol intake being no more than two standard drinks per day, it is worth remembering that moderation is always the best approach to booze, whether it be wine, beer or spirits…”
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