One of the most significant dietary changes I have made since entering perimenopause is to reduce the amount of alcohol I consume.
Alcohol changes the structure and function of the brain, our digestion, our absorption and utilisation of key nutrients - as well as placing additional stress on our livers which are already working hard at this stage in our life. And like many in our community I feel this vividly now. It exacerbates the symptoms I’m conscious of - particularly hot flashes, sleepless nights and morning anxiety - as well as making me feel generally less energised and well.
And my transition from a nice glass of red has been eased by a growing market of non alcoholic options for grown ups! Particularly non alcoholic beer, which is not only an alternative to alcohol, but potentially a positive tool in managing menopause.
I’ve been watching the research around hops closely for some time now. In Germany it can be 'prescribed' in the doctor's surgery to manage hot flashes. And, because hops contain phytoestrogens — plant-based compounds that mimic the action of oestrogen —there is potential to use hops to address sleep disturbances, fatigue, and vaginal dryness.
But, what is equally as interesting, is a growing body of research coming to light around the role of hops more broadly. And specifically, the benefits of a non alcoholic beer drinking habit.
Again the studies have originated in Germany. From some early work in 2012 to, in 2018, the German Olympic team drinking non alcoholic beer to reduce inflammation and recovery time. And, as awareness around the damage inflammation can do to our bodies and the correlation between inflammation and chronic disease, new work is being done to look at how we could all benefit from a hangover free pint in place of our morning coffee...
Taste is improving. In the US, non alcoholic beer brands are gently repositioning themselves from the car drivers' drink of choice to messages focused on health, performance and achievement. It's a win-win. These drinks taste good. They are isotonic. They reduce inflammation. They help us address a raft of menopause symptoms. And they remove alcohol from our habit - further impacting on our health.
My personal favourite right now in the UK? Lucky Saint. Favourites within our team include Becks Blue, Brewdog’s Nanny State - and Ghost Ship’s 0.5% brew. They just need to start marketing to midlife women....there are a whole lot of us right here waiting to be talked to!
Give them a go - let me know how you get on.
And if you’re struggling with your relationship with alcohol and are looking for support from a community, I recommend looking at the work of Recovery Nutrition, who focus on supporting women in reframing their relationship with alcohol with 121 support and workshops. You can find their feed HERE.
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