EP #134

Alcohol and Longevity

Enjoy this conversation with therapist, author and recovered drinker, Amanda E. White all about her book, Not Drinking Tonight

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, host Molly Watts discusses the concept of “More Sober October,” an initiative where individuals can set their own alcohol-free goals for the month. Molly emphasizes the importance of creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol, allowing individuals to enjoy a glass of wine without guilt or the need to finish the bottle. She highlights the ongoing opportunity for listeners to add extra alcohol-free days to their month and shares insights from her upcoming online program, “Making Peace with Alcohol.” The episode explores the influence of alcohol in various cultures, focusing on the Blue Zones communities where moderate wine consumption is part of a holistic approach to longevity. Molly emphasizes the need for mindfulness and understanding the scientific data when making decisions about alcohol consumption. She references the work of Dr. Peter Attia, a longevity expert and fellow alcohol minimalist, who advises limiting alcohol intake to no more than three days per week. The episode encourages listeners to proactively take control of their drinking habits, promoting a balanced and mindful approach to alcohol consumption.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October, you can check it out and learn more at get that sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got grises I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from hay it’s a very dry July, here in Oregon. Get that I’m doing more dry July and it’s very dry and warm here in Oregon has been pretty much all month. So I am really loving it. I gotta say it’s, it’s my favorite time of year in the Pacific Northwest, you should certainly come visit if you haven’t already. And enjoy a little bit of this sunshine while it’s still here. Hey, how are you doing? By the way, this is the end of more dry July the end is in sight. It’s July 26 As this is coming out. So there’s just one last weekend ahead. And hey, no matter how it’s been going, I want to encourage you there is still time to add in an extra alcohol free day from now until the end of the month. Especially if you’re an only on the weekend type of drinker. But you kind of tend to over drink every weekend. I want to encourage you to give one day this weekend, the opportunity to be alcohol free, you know, go to the party, go to the summer barbecue and do it without alcohol. See what comes up for you in your thinking. This is where you can learn so much about your drinking habit. When you take time to uncover some of the unconscious thinking that fuels your desire to drink. Nothing will do that faster than planning an alcohol free day in a situation where you always drink, quote unquote, right where you just can’t imagine not drinking. Give it a try and just see how it goes. I hope you’ll do it. This week show before I get there. I do have an announcement. I feel like I should say drumroll please write my new online program and community making peace with alcohol is finally ready to accept new members in August. And on Friday, August 18, I will be hosting a live free webinar called How to Stop Worrying and start changing your drinking, which is going to be a valuable resource in and of itself. And within that free webinar. I’ll be sharing details on how to join making peace. So to sign up for that webinar, you just got to go to webinar dot Molly watts.com. That’s webinar dot Molly watts.com and get on the list for that specific free webinar. Again, it’s called How to Stop Worrying and start changing your drinking. It’s going to be on Friday, August 18. And you got to be on the list. Even if you don’t show up live you got to be on the list to get to get the replay of the webinar which there will be one all right now onto this week’s show. This is another episode in my series on alcohol. And if you are not familiar with the alcohol and series, then on both Spotify and YouTube, you can find alcohol and playlists. And on Apple podcasts, you can just scroll back through all the episodes and you can easily find the alcohol and series because I use the ampersand sign. So look for them. I think this will be number 21 If I’ve done my counting correctly, so there are 20 other episodes in the series alcohol and, and today, I’m going to be talking about alcohol and longevity. Now, many of you who’ve listened to the show for any length of time know that this is not my first podcast rodeo. Prior to this podcast, which is now two and a half years old. By the way, I had a podcast called live happier, longer, which was focused on scientifically proven habits that improve overall happiness and increased longevity. And in that show, I encouraged five daily habits, move, learn, share, give and let go, which were inspired by watching my dad age with optimism and remain vital and relatively healthy into his 90s. And that podcast was active for about two and a half years, about two years actually. And during that time, I did a lot of research on longevity. Because that was my whole point was longevity and living happier as well. And I’m proud to say that all five of those daily habits, move, learn share, given let go. They stand the test of time they weren’t if trendy flash in the pan. They are absolutely positive habits that can make a difference in your life. And you can go back and listen to live happier longer. Wherever you’re listening to this podcast if you’re interested. I had some great, great guests on the show. I did a lot of good research and I loved doing that work. And one of the research resources that I referenced and analyzed during live happier longer was blue zones. If you’re not familiar with Blue Zones, Blue Zones are considered regions of the world where people enjoy remarkable longevity and health. And these pockets of long lived individuals offer us some insights into factors that contribute to their long, fulfilling and extended lives. The blue zones were first identified by a National Geographic fellow by the name of Dan Buettner, and he collaborated with researchers and demographers to identify these regions with an unusually high concentration of centenarians. centenarians are people that live to be 100. Okay, so the regions include Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, which is in Costa Rica Icaria, which is in Greece, and a seven day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California. And each of these blue zones exhibits some unique cultural practices. There were commonalities that stood out between all of them, and these were the ones that they’ve noted. Okay, the commonalities that they noted. First, they have a plant centric diet. Blue Zone inhabitants consume primarily plant based diets rich in vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They have active lifestyles, physical activity is an integral part of daily life in the Blue Zones. inhabitants, they’re engaged in very natural movements, such as walking, gardening and manual labor. There are strong social connections in the blue zones. So the blue zones, communities prioritize social interactions, fostering close knit relationships and a sense of belonging. Stress Reduction, residents in the Blue Zones adopt stress reducing practices such as daily relaxation, meditation, or napping. I love the fact that napping is included. Lastly, the common trait was purpose and meaning. Blue Zones inhabitants have a sense of purpose and a reason to wake up every morning. Laying in that was a crucial role in the lives of their of the Blue Zones inhabitants. Now, notice that there is no mention of alcohol in these commonalities, right. So I just you’re probably going why are we talking about all of this when you’re talking about alcohol and longevity? But here’s what’s interesting. The Blue Zones also promotes what they call the power nine. And the power nine is a list of Is lifestyle principles that were also observed in Blue Zones. Wine at five refers to the practice of moderate and regular wine consumption, usually red wine as part of the daily routine in some of these blue zones. Why did the Blue Zones include this practice, it’s not in all of them, because Loma Linda, in the Seventh Day Adventist, they don’t drink at all. But they included wine at five in the power nine. So why? Number one, there’s a cultural and social aspect to wine at five. In some of the Blue Zones, particularly in Sardinia and Icaria. The consumption of wine is deeply ingrained in the local culture and social traditions. It is often enjoyed during meals and shared with family and friends, fostering a sense of community and social connection, which is considered an essential aspect of longevity. So again, it’s a part of tradition in these communities. Another reason that Blue Zones decided to include wine at five in the power nine, red wine in particular is rich in polyphenols. This is I’m taking this off of the BlueZone site, by the way, such as reservatrol, which are natural compounds with antioxidant properties. And we’ve had long conversations on this podcast about red wine and the whole poly phenols reservatrol. better benefits versus, you know, the trade offs and whether or not it’s actually true that red white is good for you. But regardless, that this is what they were saying, This is what the blue zones is saying as to why it’s still considered part of the power nine, it’s still on there, it’s still on all their stuff. And that so that’s why it’s because of the antioxidant properties of red wine. Here it also says that the reason that alcohol was included in the power nine cardiovascular benefits, moderate alcohol consumption, especially red wine has been associated with potential cardiovascular benefits. Studies have suggested that red wines poly phenols, may have a positive impact on heart health by promoting healthy blood vessels and reducing the risk of certain heart diseases. Interesting, as we know, I’ve got a clip dad and lots of commentary on the studies. And we of course, know that it’s not true, it’s not something that you can say that red wine is good for your heart. The association is there in terms of people who these blue zones people are an associative group, a group of people that live to be 100 and they drink red wine. Okay? It’s not because they drink red wine that they live to be 100. Lastly, relaxation and stress reduction, so this is why they included alcohol in the power nine. enjoying a glass of wine in moderation can be a way to unwind and relax after a day’s work. Stress reduction is an important aspect of the Blue Zones. Incorporating a daily mode of relaxation, such as having a glass of wine at five may contribute to overall well being. Again, this is why they they’re saying that they’re including it. And lastly, mental and emotional well being. In some cultures wine consumption is seen as a way to save her life and enjoy simple pleasures. The practice of having a glass of wine with a meal can be a source of pleasure and contentment, positively impacting mental and emotional health. You all know I’m a science girl and that is why I am so proud of my partnership with Sunnyside. Sunnyside has great data based on their user experience and they also have great science techniques behind what drives the program in the first place. Users of Sunnyside in their first 30 days experience on average a 29% reduction in drinks. They avoid 1500 calories and they’ve saved over $50 each month. This is because there is science behind the program Sunnyside helps you reach your goals and stick with them long term by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers. One is pre commitment. You intentionally make a plan ahead of time and we talked about making a plan all the time here on the podcast. Number two is conscious interference and you’ll learn that the habit of tracking each drink helps you decide about it. Number three is positivity. We know this is not easy sometimes right and we all need a little boost. I tried to be a boost and Sunnyside is a great boost via text message or email to keep you motivated. So if you haven’t already checked it out, I invite To www.sunnyside.co/molly to get started on a free 15 day trial today. So it’s important to emphasize that the inclusion of wind at five in the power nine is actually not carte blanche endorsement for everyone to consume alcohol. And the key aspect of this principle is moderation. In the blue zones where this practice is observed where wine at five is observed, wine is typically consumed in small amounts. And as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes a plant based diet, regular physical activity, strong social connections, and other factors that contribute to longevity. Now, I am bringing up blue zones because much like the French paradox, which if you’re not familiar with the French paradox, go YouTube it or google it and search French paradox. And you can watch the story from 60 minutes in 1991. That was kind of a sensation here in the US. But the French paradox was actually a term coined in 1980 by French scientists to explain the negative correlation of heart disease and fat intake among their nation. And it refers to the fact that despite consuming a high diet high in saturated fat, French people have relatively low levels of coronary heart disease, especially compared with people in Britain. All right. During the 80s, a slew of studies followed after these French scientists made this statement or made this observation about French, the French that it was that they had a relatively low risk of coronary heart disease. And in looking to explain this paradox, some scientists pointed to the fact that the French people consume more wine per capita than many other nations. And they did. They posited that perhaps it was the red wine, that was some kind of superfood that has protective qualities. Now, of course, we now again, we know that’s not true anymore. But in 1991, Morley Safer did this story on 60 minutes, and I kid you not. This is truth, red wine sales, and the US jumped nearly 40% In the following year after that story. All right. The headline of red wine being good for your heart also spawned numerous lifestyle books promoting the benefits of wine consumption. And this idea has really not been significantly challenged in 30 years since it was first, you know, since 1991. And that headline level, both the French beret paradox and Blue Zones, both seem to be telling us that drinking alcohol, even daily alcohol isn’t bad for us in In fact, it may increase longevity, right. The caveat, of course, is headline level. And I’ve talked about it before on the podcast. I talked about it earlier this year in Episode 119. Beyond the alcohol headlines, we have to go behind the headlines if we really want to understand the truths of alcohol use. All right, here are three things to question and or keep in mind about any scientific study that you read, or any headline that you read about a scientific study. Number one, all studies for alcohol are observational. This means that no matter what the conclusions are, they cannot be considered causative, but will always be associative. And that’s because you cannot isolate alcohol in humans. And therefore, conclusions like red wine is the reason that people live longer in Blue Zones, or why the French had lower incidence of heart disease aren’t accurate, because they don’t take into account all the other lifestyle factors. That could also be the reason number two, you also have to pay attention to how the studies were funded. One of the reasons that so many studies about alcohol seem to tout the benefits of drinking, were because they were funded by the alcohol industry itself, which we have come to figure out later down the road. And kind of the more recent studies, or really more recent, meta analyses of a lot of these older studies kind of indicate that there’s some of the flaws that went into these initial studies, even the studies that were associative and observational, because that’s the best we got. There are some flaws and a lot of them. They’re the part that you really need to pay attention to in this number three is what is the data really telling us and do you accept the level of risk that has been defined by this research? Should I bring up that last one because oftentimes the headlines of stories that report the research will say things like this one from earlier this year in Canada, right in Canada in 2023. They came out with new drinking guidelines. And this headline about it said, new alcohol research shows drinking small amounts can be dangerous to your health. Well, headlines very vague, right? But it’s attention grabbing. If you were only to scan the headline, you don’t know what small amount means. Nor do you know what dangerous means. But you could be right determining that you I mean, if you think that drinking 15 beers is a small amount in a week, then right, you’re that’s you have no idea. Now, I’m not going to go back into a deep dive on this again, as I did back in episode 119. But if you want to use science to make decisions about alcohol, you’ve got to get to the research itself, and not just articles. And by the way, I will link both Canada’s guidance on alcohol and health, the final report, which is 89 pages, but lists all the studies that were analyzed, I’ll put that there. I’ll also link the meta analysis that got a lot of buzz, excuse that pun, by the way, here in the US in the late in late March of 2023, which was created in the Journal of American medicine and The JAMA Network, whatever that stands for, in that that article was called the association between daily alcohol intake and the risk of all core cause mortality, a systematic review and meta analysis. Both of those have a lot of data in them that you got to really look for, if you really want to understand what’s happening. And again, going below those headlines. And I think it’s valuable for anyone to read a scientific study article just to understand the construct. And what we can actually say is proof. Because when it comes to alcohol, even within the science, you’ll see that they have to disclaim a lot because of the reason I stated in number one, observational and associative data is not the same as a double blind placebo controlled study, which is considered the gold standard for science. And, of course, we can’t do that with alcohol. Now, the last thing I want to share with you is something that as an alcohol minimalist, I was just really gratified to hear. And it really is kind of what I believe, is the big connection or the big takeaway, or how I want to live my life in terms of looking at alcohol and longevity. Recently, Dr. Peter Atea, published a highly regarded book title called out live the Science of art and longevity. Now, I haven’t read it yet. And I don’t really know if what he says what I’m going to talk to you about if he’s inside the book, but he talks about the four horsemen of the apocalypse or the Four Horsemen of disease as the four ways we are most likely to die. So coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, neurodegenerative, disease and cancer. And in general, the book provides guidance in four main areas that you can concentrate on to improve your overall health and avoid or prevent your, you know, how, how soon you might develop any of those, those four horsemen things that are gonna kill you, right? So if you want to extend longevity, you got to you got to avoid coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, neurodegenerative, disease and cancer. And he focuses on things like exercise, nutrition, sleep and emotional health. And Dr. Tia says that instead of the medical community’s method of prescribing a drug when you have a problem mentality, that’s kind of the way they treat things, Doctor a to wants you to proactively take actions to prevent or delay the onset of these chronic disease states. He shares that successful centenarians, those people that live to be 100 Don’t live that long, because they are living with diseases longer, they are generally not getting the disease issues until they are much older. Now that’s as much as I’m gonna go into outlive, but this focus on longevity is what Dr. Atea is known for. And he recently did an interview with Tim Ferriss where he discussed his rules for alcohol. And it turns out that Dr. Peter Attia, one of the leading experts in longevity is also an alcohol minimalist, though he doesn’t know that. Here’s what he said. He said, and I quote, If I drink something that doesn’t taste incredible, I call it out. Like I’m never going to tolerate a bad glass of wine ever. It’s just not worth it. Now, Tim Ferriss says, Let’s just sit with that for for a second. So what are your personal rules for alcohol consumption? outside of if it tastes mediocre it gets poured out, which is a great rule. Tim says, but what are your favorite types of alcohol? And how do you personally navigate it. And this is what Dr. Tia says he’ll start with like kind of quantity, I would personally just say, there’s going to be an insane reason to have more than two drinks in a day, he says, there’s going to be an insane reason. So it’s somewhere between zero and two, it’s got to be a really good reason to drink on more than three days a week. All right. So he’s saying he’s got four alcohol free days, and no more than two drinks in a day. So in the back of my mind, he says, I’m keeping a tally, which is I really shouldn’t be having more than about seven drinks in a week. And again, seven drinks in one day is very different than one drink a day or for seven days. So it’s the frequency, and it’s the dose that defines the poison. That’s what he says. The second thing is, I really have to make sure that the drinking is a good three hours away from sleep. Again, when I say these things, people, people say, Peter, you must be a robot. No, I’m just saying, these are general principles. There are going to be times when I violate that I, and he says, I think I posted something on Instagram a little while ago, which was like the most rants at night asleep. My sleep data was comically bad. And the reason was because we had friends over, it was very late, we drank late, we ate late. And you know, I basically went to bed. And by the time they left at like 1030, we had just sort of finished eating and drinking. And not surprisingly, my sleep sucked. And the point I made in the post was I do it again, it was a fantastic night, our friends, and the four of us hadn’t had dinner together in a long time. So you just have to be very thoughtful and deliberate about the choices and trade offs that you make. As far as the type of alcohol. He says, You know, I think people love to think, again, and and this is an example of something that we tend to over index. You know, I drink a lot, but let me tell you, it’s just vodka and tequila. So it’s got to be good for me, right? Like it’s, it’s no alcohol is out. And then he says, No, alcohol is alcohol. So he says, I love tequila. I love Mezcal. I love a really good wine. I love a really dark Belgian beer. But I am not deluded to think that any of those are healthy. And I know that there are some people who have a horrible reaction to certain types of alcohol. Well, I would put that in the same category as people have a horrible reaction to certain types of food. Don’t consume them. But I think mostly where I’m focused is on how much I’m going to drink, how close that is going to be to bed. And what’s the total tally per week, and I never exceed a certain tally in a given day. So basically, Dr. Peter etea, a longevity expert says, You don’t drink on more than three days per week. You don’t have more than two drinks on any one given day. And every now and then if you have an exception, that’s okay. It’s not the rule. It’s the exception. Right? And you don’t want to drink too late not not to disrupt your sleep. It’s going to disrupt your sleep no matter what if you drink alcohol, but further away, you do it from bedtime, the better. So all of that sounds like really good advice, right? Sounds pretty similar to what I talked about here. Increase your number of alcohol free days, less alcohol is better for you than more alcohol. Don’t over a drink on any occasion and enjoy the drinks that you do drink. Make them worth it. Don’t drink a bad drink. If it’s not good, pour it out. And don’t drink just to drink. And I guess the way I would say it is you’re going to include alcohol in your lives, do it in a minimal way, right? Alcohol and longevity. There’s no evidence that says that. Drinking alcohol is what helps us live longer lives. However, we can include alcohol in our lives in a minimal way, and still stick to the habits and ideas and a way of living that should help us live happier longer. Right? Okay, that’s all I have for you this week, my friends. Hey, I would love to see you at stop worrying and start changing your drinking the free webinar, go to webinar dot Molly watts.com to get signed up today. And until next time, choose peace, my friends. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and up Apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com