Alcohol-Free May Become the New Normal

May 13, 2024 by Jesse Zucker
Alcohol-Free May Become the New Normal

WASHINGTON — People have consumed alcohol in some form since the beginning of human history, dating back to ancient civilizations in Egypt, India, China, Greece and Rome. While drinking alcohol in moderation can be enjoyable, excessive use can be harmful to your health and many suffer from alcohol addiction. 

As health and wellness become more popular, the sober-curious trend has arisen: younger generations are cutting back on alcohol. New products are entering the market with alcohol-free ingredients promising to give you a natural buzz: nootropics and adaptogens. Here, we’ll explain these substances, the research behind them and the health benefits of drinking less alcohol.

The Sober-Curious Trend

The term “sober curious” came from a 2018 book and became popular on social media. Reducing alcohol has become a healthy trend, especially among younger people. A 2018 report from Berenberg Research suggests that individuals in Generation Z, those born between 1997 to 2012, drink 20% less than Millenials, born from 1981 to 1996. Millennials also drink less than Generation X , born between 1965 and 1980 and Baby Boomers, with birthdates between 1946 and 1964. 

Research shows alcohol use among younger people has continued to decline since the 2018 report, with COVID-19 causing more people to pay attention to health and wellness. 

What Are Nootropics and Adaptogens?

Looking to enjoy a drink that’s not alcohol, but not just a mocktail? Beverage companies now have products that may still affect your brain to help you relax. Let’s explore two of these categories of ingredients.

Nootropics

The definition of nootropic is a “compound that increases mental function, including memory, motivation, concentration and attention.” Many prescription drugs fall under this category. Synthetic nootropics may include ADHD medication or experimental drugs for Alzheimer’s. Dietary supplements like fish oil that may help cognitive health are also nootropics.

Beverages are more likely to include “natural” or plant-based nootropics, like ginkgo biloba, ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, l-theanine, lion’s mane mushroom and even caffeine. Many of these have been used in Eastern medicine and may help improve cognitive function, memory and focus.

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help your body adapt (as it says in the name) back to homeostasis, typically by reducing stress or increasing mental energy. Because of that, some nootropics, like ginseng and l-theanine, may also be considered adaptogens. Also, like nootropics, some adaptogens are synthetic and others are plant-based or “natural.”

Adaptogens in alcohol-free beverages typically focus on plant-based types that may help lower cortisol and reduce stress, like ashwagandha, kava, and CBD. 

Safety Considerations

Just because something is a “natural” ingredient doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe for everyone. Nootropics and adaptogens may be considered dietary supplements, which do not need to be regulated or approved by the FDA for sale. 

Herbs can also cause interactions with medications you take or medical conditions you have. It’s always best to ask your doctor. You can also read the ingredients in these beverages since nootropics and adaptogens can mean many different things.

The Benefits of Cutting Down On Alcohol

Whether or not you want to swap your alcohol for an herb-infused beverage, reducing or stopping your alcohol consumption can significantly benefit your health.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the CDC defines moderate drinking as two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women on a day when you are drinking. They also say if you are not already a drinker, don’t become one.

In 2023, the WHO released a statement that any amount of alcohol is detrimental to your health. 

The CDC lists the following short-term risks of excessive alcohol use: injuries, violence, alcohol poisoning and miscarriages. Long-term health risks include:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and stroke.
  • Liver, colon, breast, mouth, throat and esophagus cancer.
  • Weak immune system.
  • Poor cognitive health.
  • Worsening mental health conditions: depression and anxiety.
  • Deteriorating social relationships, including family and work. 

Scaling down on alcohol can also improve your sleep and exercise performance. Alcohol can interfere with fitness goals. If you work hard to stay active and eat a healthy, balanced diet but don’t get the results you want, reducing or cutting out alcohol may help.

Alcohol Alternatives

Considering reducing your alcohol intake? You may have seen alternative drinks with nootropics and adaptogens in them. These are typically plant-based herbs that may help you feel more alert and relaxed, but they affect everyone differently so check ingredients and if in doubt if they are right for you, ask your doctor. 

Our website content, services and products are for informational purposes only. The Well News does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have medical concerns or questions, discuss with your health care professional.

You can reach us at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter)

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