Tiny Steps Forward, Huge Steps Back?

For some people, I think there is value in completely eschewing alcohol. For most people, I think alcohol generally contributes positively to a person's quality of life. Social atmospheres and celebrations that involve alcohol consumption with food tend to bring people closer together, in my experience. It's not merely that alcohol is a "social lubricant." It's a social lubricant that tastes good and can enhance the sensory quality of a meal. Physiologically, alcohol can improve digestion and reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer when it is consumed with meat, especially red meat. So it's natural that alcohol would enjoy its special place in the human social experience.

In terms of overall human health, however, alcohol does vastly more harm than good. Even as the aforementioned digestive aid, alcohol can be replaced by a vinegar-based marinade, and all of the benefits can be had without alcohol itself. As for resveratrol, the supposed miracle compound in red wine, the best research indicates that it is basically a placebo pill. Meanwhile, alcohol increases the risk of all sorts of cancers, most notably mouth and stomach cancers; it kills brain cells, dehydrates the drinker, promotes obesity, and increases triglycerides in the bloodstream, which then go on to further promote high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

In short, alcohol is a slow poison whose only real benefits are social, not physical. And if I really wanted to make the case against alcohol, I'd dedicate this paragraph to discussing all the social detriments caused by alcohol, including death and maiming on the roadways, workplace accidents, rapes, assaults, addictions, domestic abuse, and so on.

The simple fact of the matter is, in light of objective cost-benefit analysis, the case against alcohol consumption is much stronger than the case for alcohol consumption.

Of course, one could easily say the same thing about french fries. Well, aside from the physical impairment alcohol causes, anyway, french fries do just as much physical damage, and their only redeeming qualities involve the decadent pleasure of consuming food that tastes good despite universally understood health detriments.

I bring up french fries here because I don't want the reader to make the mistake of believing that I'm against alcohol consumption. I'm not, nor am I against the consumption of french fries. Hilariously enough, I grew up in conservative Utah, where the consumption of alcohol was considered verboten and sinful, and yet giving oneself organ failure via frosting and bacon was not frowned upon at all. It's very interesting, the social mores that surround what is "acceptable" poison and what is "unacceptable poison."

As for most sane people with a modicum of self-regulation, there is no harm in drinking alcohol or eating french fries occasionally.

Yet, once again, I repeat: whether or not we're religious teetotallers, the case for drinking alcohol is extremely weak, objectively speaking.

So, if you're a person like me, always making micro-adjustments to your personal health regimen, experimenting with supplements and fine-tuning the fitness process in an effort to optimize your physical health to the greatest extent possible, eventually you have to ask yourself a question. If you're willing to spend $40 per month on nicotinamide riboside supplements because they might improve cellular health, if you're willing to subscribe to Strava Summit in order to gain access to deeper analytics on your athletic performance, if you're willing to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy shoes and workout clothes, subscribe to Beachbody On Demand, wake up early to cook a highly nutritious breakfast garnished with seeds and spices curated to optimize dietary health, if you're willing to switch from inexpensive turkey sausage to gourmet smoked salmon for breakfast because it's healthier, if you almost religiously consume fruits and vegetables at every meal, count calories to determine the ideal daily distribution, monitor your blood sugar virtually in real time, take brisk walks on your coffee breaks at work, time your water consumption, and so on, and so forth, et cetera, ad infinitum...

...If you're willing to do all of that, and yet still persist in drinking alcohol regularly, counteracting many of the benefits that drive all of your other health and fitness decisions, then that's a contradiction. It's an untenable contradiction. Alcohol is much more harmful than the marginal benefits of each of the other decisions I make about my own health every minute of every day.

And for that reason, I've reduced my alcohol consumption to a decided minimum. Why would I make a point to live so clean and so healthy, and then reverse all those positive decisions with beer?

For me, it makes little sense. Your life may be a little different, and so you might come to a different conclusion.

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