Why Non-Alcoholic Drinks Make Us Feel Fantastic
One of the reasons that I don’t miss drinking alcohol is that alcohol-free drinks make me feel great. And I’m not just talking about the fact that I no longer get hangovers.
There is a lot more too it than that. Here are some of the ways that alcohol free drinks will make you feel fantastic.
Non-alcoholic drinks = A dopamine kick
Did you know that the reason alcohol is associated with feeling good and having a good time is dopamine, a chemical that literally makes you feel good? When you drink alcohol your brain releases dopamine. It’s complicated though – alcohol also stimulates the brain to produce Glutamate – the chemical responsible for anxiety, which is why the feel good factor doesn’t last.
Amazingly, alcohol free drinks can also boost the production of dopamine. A 2013 study found that drinking non-alcoholic beer can also boost your dopamine levels, assuming that you already associate the taste of beer with alcohol.
Alcohol-free beer increases your dopamine levels
In the study, researchers used Positron emission tomography (PET) scans to measure the dopamine levels of 49 men when they drank non-alcoholic beer compared with a sports drink. They found drinking non-alcoholic beer resulted in significantly higher levels of dopamine.
Likewise, a 2018 study looking at parts of the brain associated with feelings of reward, found that there were no differences to brain activity between 0% ABV non-alcoholic beer and 4.8% standard beer.
The upshot? Alcohol free beer brings the dopamine without the comedown.
Zero alcohol drinks = A better mood
It’s not just dopamine, alcohol-free drinks contribute to an elevated mood in other ways too.
Drinking zero-alcohol drinks don’t mess with your sleep the way that alcoholic drinks do, meaning that you wake up feeling refreshed and well rested (and not, tired and cranky).
On top of this, alcohol-free drinks can help you stay more hydrated than drinking alcohol which is good news for your general wellbeing as even moderate dehydration can lead to moodiness, headaches and fatigue.
Alcohol-free = Feel Fabulous & Healthy
As well as being terrific for your mental health, alcohol-free drinks are also good for your physical health.
Studies show that drinking non-alcoholic beer can reduce your risk of heart disease, aid bone growth and even reduce your chance of getting illnesses like the common cold.
And that’s not all; many zero-alcohol drinks are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals including folic acid, potassium, iron and zinc.
Less alcohol = More Social
Meaningful social connections have been shown to play an important role in our overall health. In fact, strong social connections have been linked to lower rates of anxiety and higher self-esteem.
Although alcohol is known as a social lubricant, people who have given up alcohol have reported that their social connections improved when they gave up drinking. Alcohol-free drinks allow you to actively listen to others and stay present in conversations. In the long run, this allows friendships to become more meaningful – and what could be more fantastic than that?
The Top 3 Non-Alcoholic Drinks To Try
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If you only try 1 spirit, this is it! It's the Lyre's Italian Spritz which is a non-alcoholic version of a classic Italian Aperol and it makes the perfect alcohol-free version of Aperol Spritz. Just add 30mls to a champagne glass of non-alcoholic sparkling wine, top with soda water and add a slice of orange!
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Sources: Neuropsychopharmacology, April 2013; Dopamine Release in Male Drinkers: Mediation by Family History of Alcoholism; Chemical Senses, January 2019, Brain Responses to Anticipation and Consumption of Beer with and without Alcohol; The Journal of Nutrition, Mild Dehydration affects Mood in Healthy Young Women, Feb 2012; Better Heath Channel, Strong relationships, strong health, October 2017