[Transcript] – Solosode 471 – Why Ben Greenfield drinks one serving of alcohol per day, the effects of alcohol on longevity, how to detox after partying, the best supplements for drinking and much more

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From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/alcohol

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:58] Should we avoid drinking alcohol?

[00:16:48] Drinking alcohol and DHM

[00:26:03] What are binders and how do they work?

[00:30:33] Ben's ad for the house

[00:32:13] What does Ben drink?

[00:41:02] The summary of the episode

[00:43:11] End of Podcast

[00:44:12] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Sometimes it helps with your detoxification to take a binder right before you go to bed. If you take the DHM right before you go to bed, whatever binding agent that you use is going to bind the DHM and render it less effective and just basically turn it into expensive pee or poop as the binding case may be. So basically, this is why you'd take the DHM, for example, as you're walking home from the restaurant out to your car, as you're cleaning the kitchen after dinner, not right before you go to bed if you're taking a binding agent.

Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let's do this.

It is time to talk all things alcohol. Hooray, grab your glass of organic biodynamic wine, your mezcal gin, your bitters with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, or your can of ketones and sit back, take a sip, get ready to find out how quickly you are or are not destroying your body as you join me for a drink.

I was recently on a speaking tour of India. I think probably the top question I got over there besides air pollution was whether or not I endorse drinking alcohol. I don't think it's any surprise for anybody who's listening to the show for any period of time that I'm not a teetotaler, I believe it's called. However, I do have a drink just about every night of the week. I have a small glass of organic biodynamic wine while I'm practicing my guitar before dinner, if I'm out at a restaurant or order an old-fashioned or a little bit of gin or vodka on the rocks with a splash of bitters, of lemon juice, and constantly mixing up little healthy variants of cocktails and vinegar shrubs with splashes of alcohol in my own home. And, it certainly is something that I partake in.

I think probably Dr. Andrew Huberman is the person who has been most responsible for perhaps turning a lot of biohackers and health enthusiasts off of the idea of alcohol, but I think there is a little bit more to the story here.

So, the first thing that is important to understand is this whole concept of stress, particularly what's called mitohormesis. Alright, I realize we're jumping right into the geeky step right away. You might have to take another sip. We should just play a drinking game. Every time I see hormesis, you can take a shot.

Anyways, mitohormesis, that's defined as the response to an acute sublethal stress, hopefully, that glass of wine is sublethal, such as oxidative stress which alcohol causes. That may temporarily impair or damage mitochondria, but ultimately leads to the activation of adaptive mechanisms that confer stress resilience and improve mitochondrial function. So, maybe a lot of those blue zones who are having one to two drinks a day for men and women might be on to something when it comes to longevity. So, this idea of oxidative stress, basically these reactive oxygen species like superoxide and hydrogen peroxide, they can actually cause a little bit of damage to the cell membrane and to cellular function, but they also serve as signaling molecules that can promote health by preventing or delaying a number of chronic diseases and ultimately extending lifespan.

Now, there is, of course, a dose-response curve here. There's a dose-response curve. Basically, there's this whole theory called the free radical theory of aging. And, that suggest what's called a linear dose-response relationship between increasing amounts of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress and mortality. This is why, for example, if you're doing red light therapy, you're supposed to go 20 to 25 minutes and not a lot more because then you generate excess reactive oxygen species. This is why the benefits of exercise top off at maybe around 170 minutes per week at which point you start to see increased risk for things like mortality, atherosclerosis, arterial stiffness, et cetera. This is why sauna is certainly something that could deplete you of electrolytes and minerals and water when done in high doses. But, at five to seven times per week for 20 to 30 minutes, it actually appears to extend longevity. Even the stress from plant defense molecules like lectins and gluten, something called xenohormesis can induce some amount of cellular resilience. But obviously, if you're getting gas and bloating and digestive distress and autoimmune disorders, that's an indication that you've gone past that law of diminishing returns.

So essentially, when we look at alcohol, I think one of the guys who has done a good job spreading the idea that the concept of no safe level of alcohol consumption could be total nonsense is Dr. Chris Masterjohn. Chris Masterjohn is a real wizard when it comes to biochemistry. He actually has a fantastic article, and I will link to it in the shownotes. You're going to find the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcoholpodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcoholpodcast.

A few interesting notes from Chris's article. So, first of all, in the study that's being widely championed right now to show that there's no safe level of alcohol for the brain, going from zero alcohol intake to a serving of alcohol per day. Really, it's not a huge serving, for most people probably be half of what they're currently drinking, half a drink per day. My pour of wine in the evening, for example, is 3 to 4 ounces, not a fishbowl full-size glass. It's not associated with any harm in females and, shocker, is associated with slightly better brain markers in males. DNA markers of aging go down with increasing number of drinks per week at least through seven drinks per week. But, here's what's important, that's one drink per day.

And, here's what I think a lot of people who are shoving alcohol under the bus aren't saying. There's a big difference between having seven drinks on a Saturday night and having one drink each night of the week in the same way that if I tell you running is healthy. There's a big difference between you running 3 miles a day versus you running 21 miles on a Saturday and taking on way too much volume at once that your body's endogenous antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms simply can't keep up with. It would be the reason for me saying 170 minutes of exercise a week could be healthy and something you could get away with, and you're doing all 170 minutes of that exercise in one fell swoop during some masochistic super set trip to the gym where you crawl out with blood pouring out your eyeballs and smoke coming out your ears. That's way different than hitting the gym for say 30 to 45 minutes a day. 

You could mow through an entire loaf of healthy sourdough bread and still have a response to the phytates and the gluten versus saying having one or two slices. You could eat a huge grocery shopping cart full of kale and cilantro and all sorts of things that could deleteriously impact your thyroid function and your gut comfort when consumed in high doses. But, putting a little bit of greens in your smoothie every morning or having a lunchtime salad, not as big of a deal. You could sit in the sauna, right? You could take that, whatever, five to seven times per week for 20 to 30 minutes and you could do a 220-minute sauna session on a Sunday morning, and absolutely you put yourself at risk of a cardiovascular event from the fluid loss that occurs.

Well, there's a big difference, again, between drinking all of your drinks that studies have shown to be healthy on average throughout the week all at once versus in small microdoses throughout the week. You can say the same thing for microdosing with psilocybin, big difference as anybody knows between taking a third of a gram in the morning as a microdose and hammering 5 grams. The dose is the poison. The dose in one sitting is the poison.

Now, the other thing that's interesting is a lot of folks who are claiming that alcohol is bad for you are citing studies that have used genes for what's called alcohol use disorder. Well, I got some news for you. Alcohol use disorder is a lot different than just having some alcohol on a regular basis. It's not defined just by the amount of alcohol consumed but is defined by things like failing to meet obligations, being totally unable to stop drinking, needing to drink starting first thing in the morning, blacking out frequently, causing physical injury to yourself or others, and behaving in other ways that can lead to a lot of distress in yourself and in those around you.

In contrast, consumption of low levels of alcohol, meaning up to one drink per day, and this is all based in research that I will link to from the shownotes, BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcohol, is associated with, brace yourself, a 26% lower risk of heart disease and a 24% lower risk of all-cause mortality. Now, how could this be the case? Well, it's interesting because, yes, alcohol is a toxin, but believe it or not, there is a lot of toxins in a lot of what you put into your body; plants, herbs, spices, carbs, protein, fat, you name it. Alcohol is a macronutrient, meaning it can be burnt and consumed and used to generate ATP energy. It's metabolized to something called acetaldehyde, which you have heard of before that wind builds up in high amounts is somewhat toxic. But then, it goes on to form a short-chain fatty acid acetate in the mitochondria. That acetate can be used to produce ATP to be metabolized as the same what's called acetyl-CoA that you'd obtain from oxidizing protein and fat and carbohydrate.

Ethanol, the actual alcohol you would find in wine or beer or vodka or Moscow mule or whatever, its metabolism is very similar to the type of longer chain alcohols that you also find in whole grains in plant foods, in bee products, even in insects. A lot of people are doing cricket protein powder and the like. Well, a lot of what's in there is very similar to the short-chain fatty alcohols found in alcohol. Now, of course, in high amounts, these aldehydes can be toxic. They can be very reactive, but they're found in a lot of foods that go beyond alcohol.

There's another toxin that you'll find in alcohol called methylglyoxal. Very similar to acetaldehyde, it has three carbons rather than two. We don't have to get into the biochemistry of it too much, but it has, based on that, about double the power to cause damage compared to acetaldehyde. You find methylglyoxal however not just in alcohol but also derived in small amounts from carbohydrate and from protein and from fat. Yes, you could get way too much acetaldehyde all at once and you could get way too much methylglyoxal all at once. But, look at acetaldehyde, you find it naturally in fruits and vegetables. In fact, vegetables have more acetaldehyde than wine does. Cider has more acetaldehyde than vodka does. It's not the acetaldehyde and methylglyoxal are bad. You're consuming them all the time even if you don't drink alcohol. The problem is how much gets into your body all at once and how equipped you are to be able to metabolize that. You could even say the same parallel between alcohol consumption and carbohydrates, right? It's not about carbohydrates being bad for you, it's about the possibility of you consuming a huge high dose of sugar all at once that spikes your blood sugar and causes some insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance type of issues. 

So, all toxins, including those in alcohol, have the power to cause a hormetic effect. What that means is they can upregulate enzymes necessary for their metabolism, which often go on to help you increase cellular resilience and increase your levels of endogenous antioxidants that your body uses to fight against reactive oxygen species. In the case of alcohol, you see an upregulation in, for example, superoxide dismutase and glutathione production. Those are antioxidants that your body steps up its production of in response to alcohol intake in the same way that you produce endogenous antioxidants, new mitochondria, new muscle fiber, heat shock proteins, et cetera, from exercise, from sauna, from cold therapy, from plants and herbs and spices.

So, the idea here is that, yes, alcohol is a toxin, alcohol is a stressor, but just because something is a stressor or a toxin does not mean that you're going to stop all stress from exercise, from sauna, from cold, from calorie restriction, from anything else. So, that's the first thing, the first point that I really want to get across to you is that with alcohol, yes, it's a stressor, but it appears that somewhere right around the range of one-half to one drink per day spread out consistently throughout the week without excess intake or high-volume intake is in fact something that can be protective and beneficial. I haven't been drunk in probably more than 15 years, but I would say I average five to seven drinks a week. Besides a few weeks, I've had some months where I just don't drink alcohol in the same way I'll have some months that I lower my carb intake or some weeks where I restrict calories, or certain days where I'm lower on protein or certain weeks where I'm lower on red meat. It's not a rule that I have to drink alcohol every night, but for the most part, it is a staple in my routine. And, I actually feel as though it's wonderful for social gatherings as a palate cleanser. I enjoy the taste of a nice glass of organic biodynamic wine. I enjoy ordering an old-fashioned at a restaurant and sipping on that as I talk to friends.

So, basically, that's my take on the actual damages that could be potential from alcohol and the actual data on longevity. And, I'll link to Chris Masterjohn's article in the shownotes for this podcast again at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcohol. But, pause for me for a second, take a shot, take a sip of your drink, or just have some electrolytes and minerals, maybe some hydrogen tablets dissolved in water and we'll go on to the next part of what I want to fill you in on. Because in addition to being asked many times, whether or not alcohol is healthy and why I'm not on the alcohol is completely bad for you, baby talk bandwagon. I'm also asked if there are certain things that I consume along with alcohol to assist with the metabolization of some of the toxins in alcohol or to help ease some of the toxic side effects.

And, a lot of people will say, “Well, Ben, you just said that those toxic side effects and the oxidative stress that's created is good for you. Why would you want to stop any of that?” Well, look, I take a pre-workout before I go workout and a post-workout to help repair some of the muscle damage; things like creatine or colostrum or amino acids or fish oil. When I'm in the sauna, I replace electrolytes and minerals. I even take things before the sauna to help enhance blood flow like niacin, for example. When I go do cold, I like to take something that will increase the brown fat activation like grains of paradise from my pepper grinder or bitter melon extract or berberine or green tea. Anything that I do, I'm constantly looking at ways I can optimize that, help the body recover faster, and still reap the benefits of the hormetic response to this variety of activities. I'll even consume digestive enzymes when I have a meal or I will have Gluten Guardian when I even have a slice of sourdough bread just to help myself process those carbohydrates a little bit better. In the same way that I might have a blood glucose stabilizing agent prior to dessert like a shot of apple cider vinegar or some Kion Lean or some berberine or something that will allow me to sort of have my cake and eat it too and still reap the benefits from said cake. I have the same take on alcohol.

So, let's talk about some of the things I would do if I were drinking to make drinking arguably even more healthy. The first is something that you'll see pop up a lot nowadays in these hangover remedies and hangover pills is something that I've been using for quite some time that I get dirt cheap on Amazon even though you can get it in fancier and fancier compounds these days. It's called DHM. DHM stands for a little bit of a mouthful here, dihydromyricetin. Now, it's actually an extract from the Japanese raisin tree, which is sexine in of itself. That's a good enough reason to take DHM if you ask me. Just for the Japanese raisin tree that you're consuming that you can brag to your friends about. But, they did a study on it. It really didn't come to the spotlight until 2012 and there was this professor from the UCLA School of Medicine, and he gave mice DHM and then got them drunk. Can't do these kind of studies in humans, I believe, due to ethical reasons, but little drunk mice are okay.

So, what they test was whether dihydromyricetin, which I'm going to start calling DHM from now on so I don't twist my tongue too poorly here. So, DHM blocks the effect alcohol has on GABA and glutamate neurotransmitters in the brain. Now, normally alcohol binds to GABA receptors and it activates them leading to relaxation, social lubrication, and sometimes excess confidence, slurred speech with too much, impaired motor function, a feeling of being intoxicated. That's actually why sometimes alcohol can wake you or you can wake up in the wee hours after you've had a few glasses of wine, for example, because you get flooded with GABA and then it wears off, and then you wake up in the same way that a high sugar meal prior to bed could cause a spike in blood sugar and then you wake up later on due to the hypoglycemia that occurs as a rebound response to that.

Well, what DHM is it blocks these GABA receptors. And, when you block the GABA receptors, you don't feel the alcohol as much. It basically prevents intoxication. They even did a very interesting study where they administered a flumazenil, which is a drug that blocks the GABA receptors, and all the benefits of DHM on reducing intoxication were totally lost because the flumazenil was keeping the DHM from blocking those GABA receptors.

Now, this is an interesting practical takeaway. If you, like me, are just having one drink and you actually want to have that drink not only for say the palate cleansing effect or the enjoyment of the flavor but because you do want to spin a few dials, you want to relax a little bit–not that I'm saying we should use alcohol as a crutch or anything else, weed or other supplements as a way to battle stress, we need to address the underlying issue. You shouldn't drink at the end of the day because you're stressed. That's not a good reason to drink in my opinion. But, if you want to relax a little bit, it's nice to be able to feel the effects of alcohol. So, what I'm getting at here is if you want to feel the effects of alcohol, don't take the anti-hangover party drug DHM or party supplement DHM before drinking or you're going to need to drink more to feel it. And, by the nature of drinking more, you do put yourself at that risk of exceeding the acetaldehyde or methylglyoxal exposure that would be appropriate in small amounts but harmful in larger amounts.

So basically, if you want to fill your alcohol and you have one of these fancy DHM anti-hangover remedy capsules, don't take it before you start drinking. However, DHM does something else. It accelerates the breakdown of alcohol. So, what it does is it increases the activity of the liver enzymes, ADH and ALDH, alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which help your body to metabolize alcohol. So, alcohol dehydrogenase, ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, which can cause hangover symptoms. But then, ALDH metabolizes acetaldehyde to that relatively harmless byproduct I was talking about earlier, acetate, which is either used for metabolism or safely flushed out of your body.

So, if you want to limit the buildup of acetaldehyde using DHM after drinking all the way up to as late as the morning after can take the edge off of the acetaldehyde buildup. And so, because of that, it's quite common that when I'm having my evening glass of wine, I don't take the DHM prior to that, I used to until I found out this information about GABA and glutamate. Now, I'll take a little DHM right after. Usually just while I'm cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, after I've had a drink I'll have the DHM. Okay. So, that's important for another reason that I'll get to later and that's the fact that sometimes it helps with your detoxification to take a binder right before you go to bed. If you take the DHM right before you go to bed, whatever binding agent that you use is going to bind the DHM and render it less effective and just basically turn it into expensive pee or poop as the binding case may be. So basically, this is why you take the DHM, for example, as you're walking home from the restaurant out to your car, as you're cleaning the kitchen after dinner not right before you go to bed if you're taking a binding agent.

So, why would you take a binding agent? I'll get to that later, but it might be things that you consumed along with the alcohol like vegetable oils if you were out at a restaurant. It might be concerns about sulfites, pesticides, herbicides, and a drink if, for example, it wasn't organic wine. It might be other fillers that you could be concerned about from your meal or in the alcohol. So, there is a good case to be made for taking a binder, just don't take any of your other hangover remedies or alcohol processing remedies at the same time as you take the binder.

I will put a link in the shownotes to some of my favorite sources for DHM, but you can find this stuff pretty dirt cheap on Amazon. That's usually where I get it. Sometimes I'm just getting the best price because DHM is DHM is DHM.

I think Mikhaila Peterson, Jordan Peterson‘s daughter, I believe she just sent me a bottle of her party remedy, and I think that it actually has DHM in it, FYI. So, that's one you could use if you want to support the Peterson family.

So, another very, very interesting compound that can also break down acetaldehyde is one that I've done a whole podcast on. It is a probiotic. It's called ZBiotics. It works incredibly well. You could choose between taking this or taking DHM because they're both going to do the same thing. They break down acetaldehyde. You don't need to take both at the same time. You could take one or the other. It could be a matter of personal preference. It could be how you feel when you test one versus the other. But, ZBiotics is very interesting. I'll link to the whole interview that I did with the guy who founded ZBiotics. I think his name is Zach. But, they took a bacteria and they figured out how to engineer it using genetic engineering, which isn't all bad. Genetic engineering is not necessarily something that's going to make you grow a third eye. It can be used simply to cause bacteria to produce certain enzymes. And, in this case, what they took was a strain of bacteria called subtilis. And, they transferred the trait for acetaldehyde breakdown from the liver, that same acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme, into the probiotic bacteria. So now, the probiotic makes acetaldehyde dehydrogenase in your gut, which then breaks down the acetaldehyde for you. It is side effect-free. It works very well. It's just a basic bacteria. It's in and out of your system. It doesn't hang around in there. And, it essentially allows your body to get the benefits of drinking without necessarily having as much acetaldehyde buildup.

Now, it would be interesting. I'm sure some of you have thought of this to see a study where they were able to look at the mitochondrial proliferation or the production of superoxide dismutase or other endogenous antioxidants that occur in response to one drink if you were to have one of these anti-hangover products before you have the drink versus if you weren't. And, the theory here would be that if you if you digest too much of the toxin yourself by using one of these supplements, do you limit the benefits of the alcohol? In the same way that some studies have shown that if you take a bunch of vitamin C and vitamin E after a workout or you go hit the cold plunge for too long after a workout, you limit the hormetic effect of the workout.

So, this is tricky. You don't really know, but I can tell you that I feel pretty good when I use the ZBiotics or the DHM subjectively when I drink versus when I don't. So, I would suspect that based on what I've seen from Chris Masterjohn's writing that most of the benefits of drinking kick in at about half a drink and most of the deleterious effects of drinking tend to kick in after one to two drinks. So, if you are having the equivalent of one full drink and you take something that helps you to break down the acetaldehyde or the ethanol or the methylglyoxal prior to that drink, then you're probably still getting a lot of the benefits of that half drink that maybe still is producing a little bit of acetaldehyde or other so-called toxins in your system.

So anyway, the ZBiotics is super interesting, and that's something you would take before you start drinking. You want it in your system when you start drinking. It's a little shot. It's liquid. It's a little bit less convenient than say a couple capsules of DHM, but that would be another thing that can be helpful when it comes to drinking.

Now, the last thing that you want to think about from a supplement standpoint is a binder. So, a binder is basically a specific compound that will bind toxins or other metabolites and remove them via the digestive tract, typically via the stool so they're not reabsorbed into the body. These are typically taken orally in a pill or a powder or a tincture form. The one that I use is made by Quicksilver Scientific. It is their Detox Binder. It's basically activated charcoal and aloe vera and a few other choice compounds. Binders can be used for heavy metals, for mycotoxins, for plastic particles, for pesticides, for herbicides, for volatile organic compounds, and even for things like acetaldehyde or the toxic byproducts of alcohol.

So, what happens usually is your liver is your main detox organ. It can remove a lot of toxic chemicals on its own using the liver's antioxidant pathways, but it does this by creating bile, which is a digestive fluid that flows through the liver or I'm sorry, from the liver through the intestines to help break down fats for digestion and absorption. Now, since a lot of toxins are fat soluble, they enter the bile. And, in a perfect world, the toxins move with the bile through the intestines out of the body through the stool. But, your gut lining is made of pretty delicate tissues with veins and nerves that can pick up these toxins and recirculate them, and that's where binders come in. Binders attach to metals or chemicals or biotoxins and the like and then shuttles them to safety out of the digestive tract without the risk of reabsorption and recirculation. So, this binder just sits in your digestive tract and grabs the stuff before it gets reabsorbed. And, this can also help reduce stress on other elimination in detox organs like the liver and the kidney, help prevent inflammatory reactions, help with uncomfortable detox symptoms. And, a lot of popular binders would be things like chlorella, charcoal, clay, and zeolites like bentonite clay. Fruit pectin is a very popular one. That's a fiber. It's highly absorptive and beneficial for binding things like heavy metals and mycotoxins and herbicides and pesticides. It's not as strong as charcoal or clay, but it does have a lot of benefits, especially for the gut, especially for people who have constipation.

Humic acid and fulvic acid. These are interesting. They're made up of negatively charged atoms that attract positively charged mineral particles like heavy metals, and these can be very useful for binding and taking metals out of your body.

Silica is another one. Silica is very good for binding aluminum. It can bind to other metals as well. And, that Quicksilver Scientific one I told you about, it contains a lot of these different compounds all at once, but charcoal is the main superstar of that one. Charcoal is a broad-spectrum binder. Now, charcoal is very powerful. Even though I like it as a binding agent that I take before bed and it helped me out quite a bit when I had mold and mycotoxin exposure, it will absorb anything you take along with it, any of your expensive supplements, your sleep stuff, whatever. So, you have to time the charcoal. Usually, for me, it's the last thing I do right before I fall asleep is I take the charcoal binder. And, that's usually at least a half hour, up to 60 minutes after I've taken things like melatonin, relaxation compounds, magnesium, that DHM I was talking about. So, if you use a binder, you basically want at least a good 30 to 60 minutes after you've consumed some of your other compounds if you don't want to soak all that stuff up.

Now, another interesting one is chlorella. Chlorella doesn't seem to bind the beneficial stuff quite as much. It's this blue-green algae that's rich in vitamins and minerals and amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. And, it does bind but it's not quite as powerful and it doesn't excrete essential minerals. So, chlorella is safer if you don't want to get nutritional deficiencies, if you don't want to soak up a lot of your spendy supplements. I would say that's one that's going to have the least effect if you just want to take a binder and you don't want to fuss around with timing everything else. It's chlorella and I would say fruit pectin is pretty good for this. Maybe the humic and fulvic acids as well.

Few good brands besides Quicksilver Scientific. The brand BEAM Minerals, they have these bottles of humic and fulvic acid that are just fantastic. For chlorella, you want good organic like cracked cell wall chlorella. I think this company ENERGYbits, they make one called RECOVERYbits that's pretty good for that. You can chew them. You can swallow them. But basically, a binder would be something that you'd use right before you go to bed at night and that can help out quite a bit with absorbing anything else that you might have had with the meal or with the alcohol.

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So, we've got DHM, we've got ZBiotics and we've got binders as three things that can help to mitigate some of the potential deleterious effects of too much of an alcohol-based toxin, and then of course, just electrolytes and minerals and good hydration.

So, the next thing that I'm often asked is, well, “Ben, when you drink, what do you drink?” Well, I have a whole list of healthy cocktails and even mocktails in my cookbooks, “Boundless Kitchen” and “Boundless Cookbook.” I've saved a ton of my different recipes for homemade Moscow mules and vinegar shrub drinks and the like and put them all in there. But, a few of the things that I tend to turn to in my own little bartending laboratory at home. I always have lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and bitters. The main reason for those is that when I mix them in with say a little clean burning mescal tequila, mescal's very clean, gin's very clean, vodka is very clean. I'll mix the lemon, the apple cider vinegar, and/or the vinegar shrub or the bitters in with some soda water and one of these clean-burning alcohols about a shot or so. And, the cool thing about these bitters is not only do they help to step up the liver's detox pathways but they also are acting as glucose disposal agents. Meaning, they will lower the glycemic index of anything that they're consumed with, thus you have a lower blood sugar response to your drink and a lower blood sugar response to any carbohydrates that you might consume with dinner.

I also am a huge fan of Dry Farm Wines. “Dry farm” refers to wines that have been taken from, as the name implies, farms that use low amounts of irrigation. When you don't irrigate a crop as heavily, you get a less sugary wine, a wine that's lower in alcohol but a wine that's more concentrated in antioxidants. It's very similar to how a wild beat-up plant is more healthy for you than say the big fluffy pretty sugary produce you might get from the grocery store because it's higher in its ability to spark your own endogenous antioxidant production while usually being lower in sugars like fructose, for example.

So, the idea here is that when I'm making a cocktail, the base is usually lemon juice, apple cider, vinegar shrub, and/or bitters, a little bit of soda water, then a clean burning alcohol or like I mentioned, this organic biodynamic dry farm wine. So, I get a shipment of six bottles of wine each month from Dry Farm Wines. It's usually all European, it's all selected to be organic, biodynamic. Even if it's not certified organic, they do their research. I've interviewed their founder, Todd White. I'll link to that interview in the shownotes along with the interview with the ZBiotics guy and everything else if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcohol.

But, I would say this superstar that we really love, my wife and I both make vinegar shrubs. When I interviewed T.J. Robinson, the vinegar hunter who finds all these artisanal vinegars that he sends to me and packages up as a quarterly send-out, he told me about vinegar shrubs and this was a few years ago. I've been making them ever since. So, shrubs are very, very simple to make. Usually, it's a one-to-one ratio of fruit, sugar and vinegar. And, you can drink this shrub that you make as something that you might have alcohol-free over ice and soda water. My wife does that quite a bit or you can add a little bit of your mescal tequila or your gin or your vodka or clean-burning alcohol like that to the shrub. Sometimes I'll even make a sangria where I'll do half wine, half shrub, a little bit of soda water. It tastes fantastic.

So, a good place to start for a basic, what's called, cold processed shrub is you do a pound of fruit, two cups of sugar, and two cups of vinegar. And, for a heated process, you go with a pound of fruit, cup of sugar, cup of water, and one cup of vinegar. And again, I've got a whole recipe for some of my favorite shrubs in my “Boundless Cookbook” or in “Boundless Kitchen.” But basically, we keep this shrub, this vinegar shrub in a glass Mason jar in the fridge, a big old glass mason jar, and then we can use that as a base for a drink. So, the sugar actually tends to be something that's balanced very much by the glycemic index-lowering effect of the vinegar, but let me give you an example of a cold processed shrub.

So, you take that mix, that one-to-one-one mix that I talked about, and the cold one's easier to describe so that's why I'm going to describe that one to you. So, one-to-one-to-one ratio of fruit to sugar to vinegar. So again, for a cold processed shrub, you'd have a pound of chopped fruit, two cups of sugar, and two cups of vinegar. And then, what you do is you take your sugar and your fruit and you combine them. You just mash it all in a bowl, the fruit and the sugar. You let that sit for about two days on your kitchen counter. So, it's going to ferment a little bit. It's going to start to look really juicy. Then, after a couple of days of that just sitting on your counter, that mix of fruit and sugar fermenting and sitting on the counter, you strain the mixture into a measuring cup, you get rid of all the fruit pulp and everything, and then you combine that. It's basically like a syrup that you've made. You combine that with an equal amount of vinegar, just adding slowly as you go, tasting a little bit as you go along. And then, when you finish, you can put a little bit extra fruit in there if you want to, but basically, you've just got your liquid and that's it. You pour it into a jar. You stick it in the fridge. So, you basically got fruit and sugar fermenting for a couple days on the counter, then you add the vinegar, you put it into a jar, you're good to go, of course, after you strain out the fruit bits.

For a hot shrub, it's pretty similar. You heat the fruit and the sugar together. You let it bubble for a while and then you stir in the vinegar. And, it's just a way to speed up the process, but I think the cold shrub you get way better flavor. And, I think that fermentation will also lower the glycemic index a little bit in the shrub. But, there's recipes for watermelon, mint and cider shrub, cranberry apple shrub, tomato shrub. It's fantastic. If you learn how to make a shrub, you're going to be a great bartender. You can impress your friends. You're going to be able to make fantastic drinks. And, it's a healthy way to have your alcohol. So, consider making a shrub drink.

What else do I make? I sometimes do go alcohol-free and opt for ketones instead. So, there is a ketone called 1,3-butanediol, which seems to have very similar socially lubricating and relaxing effects as alcohol but with none of the acetaldehyde or methylglyoxal or anything. So, you aren't going to get the hermetic benefits but you do get a lot of the benefits of drinking your way into ketosis.

One company that does this is KetoneAid. They have a Moscow mule ketone flavor. They've got gin and tonic. Last night I was drinking their — it's almost like a margarita flavor. I forget the name of it but it's fantastic. I think they have a mojito one. They've got a champagne. They used to have a beer for a while. I didn't really care for it. Tasted like a light beer. You don't really want to mix it with alcohol. It seems to produce excess tiredness when you mix one of these Ketone 1,3-butanediol alcohol alternatives with alcohol, but it's great if you want to have a cocktail without the alcohol. I'll sometimes do that as well on nights that I don't drink or on nights where I want a little bit of a change-up.

Those are really the basics. It's organic biodynamic wine, mescal gin or I'm sorry mescal tequila, gin or vodka that's mixed with soda water or vinegar shrub, apple cider vinegar or bitters, and then sometimes these ketone drinks. And then, when I'm out and about, I'm at a restaurant, a lot of times you don't know the source of the wine but in three countries, here's a trivia question for you, three countries still tend to use really good old world organic biodynamic methods for preparing wine. And, if you look at the wine menu, you'd want to look for these three countries, and this is what I do when I'm out and about and doesn't necessarily indicate whether or not a wine is organic on the menu. It's France, New Zealand, and Italy. France, New Zealand, and Italy are three pretty safe countries to choose from if you're going to do a wine when you're out and about. I also will scan the cocktail menu for whichever cocktail is the lowest in added sugars and syrups and the highest in bitters and herbs and spices. I'm a real sucker for an old-fashioned, so usually I'll do whatever that restaurant or bars twist on an old-fashioned is. I'll look for mescal gin, again, vodka or, I keep messing that up, you'd think I know by now, mescal tequila, gin, or vodka as a base.

And then, a lot of times, I really like to check out what kind of bitters that a restaurant has on the menu and I will often have a cocktail and then follow that up with just a splash of soda water, a little bit of a wedge of lemon and some bitters. And, I've hung out of parties for hours having had one drink but not making other people feel awkward because I'm walking around the party the rest of the time literally drinking bitters and soda water on ice with a little bit of lemon or lime and sometimes a splash of juice like pomegranate juice or cranberry juice or whatever they might happen to have there at the bar.

So, those are some of the alcohol options. Plenty more in “Boundless Cookbook” and “Boundless Kitchen,” my two cookbooks. But, these are some of the other things that I bear in mind when I'm drinking alcohol as far as my actual choices. 

So, we have covered today the hormetic effects of alcohol and how it's really the dose that's the poison and how much you drink at once and established the fact that about one-half to one drink a day on average is really not a big deal and may in fact have a health-promoting effect. We've established the fact that there's a big difference between that and say alcohol use disorder, which I think would be an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. We've also gone into some things you could consume along with alcohol like DHM, not necessarily before but after the alcohol. ZBiotics, which you would have before you have alcohol and even a binder that you might take before bed at night. And again, for me, the binder isn't every night but particular particularly if I've been eating out at a restaurant. I'm using the binder not just because I'm not 100% sure of what's in many of these cocktails that they add in and the nature of the ingredients and the herbicides and the pesticides, et cetera, but also because I often don't know the same thing about the presence of seed oils or whether or not the beef was organic at the restaurant. So, I'm not necessarily walking in there and annoying the host or the waiter or the waitress with this laundry list of foods I can't eat and I'm instead often just enjoying my meal then taking a binder later on.

We've talked about the different alcohol choices that can be good, including the fantastic idea of making your own vinegar shrub. And hopefully, I've answered more questions than I've generated, but those are some of my answers to some of the main questions that I received when I started talking about alcohol during my tour of India and that I wanted to kind of address on this podcast.

So again, all the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Alcohol. I hope this has been helpful and educational, hopefully entertaining for you. And, if you have questions or comments or feedback, leave them on the shownotes, leave the podcast a review, and thanks so much for listening in to this special episode on all things alcohol.

Do you want free access to comprehensive shownotes, my weekly roundup newsletter, cutting-edge research and articles, top recommendations from me for everything that you need to hack your life and a whole lot more? Check out BenGreenfieldLife.com. It's all there. BenGreenfieldLife.com. See you over there. 

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Alcohol and longevity — it's an extremely controversial topic that most health experts shy away from. 

But I'm not afraid of courting controversy when there's scientific evidence to consider.

Sure, you've heard the warnings about alcohol being a toxin that should be avoided at all costs — and in some cases this is true. But what if I told you that in moderate amounts (emphasis on moderate), alcohol can actually be beneficial for longevity and brain health?

In this episode, I'm diving deep into the latest research on alcohol's effects on your body, and why I choose to drink almost every single day.

First, I'll explain the concept of mitohormesis — how temporary stressors like alcohol can actually boost your mitochondrial function and resilience when consumed in the right amounts. Next, you'll gain insights into finding the “Goldilocks Zone” for your alcohol intake — the amount of alcohol consumption that provides health benefits without the notorious downsides of drinking too much booze. I'll also discuss supplements like dihydromyricetin (DHM) that can block alcohol's intoxicating effects while still allowing you to reap the rewards of moderate drinking.

Additionally, you'll hear about using binders like chlorella, charcoal, and fruit pectin to remove toxins like acetaldehyde from your body after drinking, my routine for enjoying a nightly glass of organic wine or a cocktail, and recommendations for healthier alcoholic beverage choices like Dry Farm Wines, shrubs, and even ketone “alcohol” alternatives.

Whether you're a teetotaler or a casual drinker, this episode might just reshape your thoughts around alcohol. By the end, if you choose to partake in this longevity strategy, you'll have a step-by-step game plan for your own conscientious alcohol consumption.

On this episode, you'll discover:  

-Should you avoid drinking alcohol?…04:42

  • The top question during Ben’s tour in India (besides air pollution)
  • Ben has a small glass of organic, biodynamic wine almost every night of the week
    • If in a restaurant, he orders a bit of gin or vodka on the rocks with a splash of bitters and lemon juice
  • Dr. Andrew Huberman is completely against alcohol consumption
  • The concept of stress and mitohormesis
  • What is mitohormesis?
    • The response to an acute sub-lethal stress, such as oxidative stress, that ultimately leads to the activation of adaptive mechanisms that confer stress resilience and improve mitochondrial function
  • The free radical theory of aging
    • A linear dose-response relationship between increasing amounts of reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress, and mortality
    • Doing more than 20 to 25 minutes of red light therapy generates excess reactive oxygen species
    • The benefits of exercise top off at around 170 minutes per week, at which point you start to see an increased risk for things like mortality, atherosclerosis, and arterial stiffness
    • Doing sauna 5 to 7 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes actually appears to extend longevity — doing it longer could deplete you of electrolytes, minerals, and water
    • Stress from lectins and gluten, called xenohormesis can induce some cellular resilience — getting gas, bloating, digestive distress, and autoimmune disorders means you have overdone intake
  • Dr. Chris Masterjohn's article — Alcohol’s SURPRISING Role in Your Health and Longevity
  • A few notes from his article about alcohol
    • One serving of alcohol per day
      • No harm to females
      • Associated with slightly better brain markers in males
    • DNA markers of aging go down with increasing number of drinks per week through seven drinks per week
  • Alcohol use disorder
    • Failing to meet obligations
    • Totally unable to stop drinking
    • Needing that drink first thing in the morning
    • Blacking out frequently
    • Causing physical injury to yourself or others
    • Behavior that can lead to a lot of distress in yourself and in those around you
  • Consumption of low levels of alcohol — up to one drink a day
    • 26% lower risk of heart disease
    • 24% lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Alcohol is a toxin, but also a macronutrient — can be burnt, consumed, and used to generate ATP energy
    • Is metabolized to acetaldehyde
    • Forms into acetate in the mitochondria, used to produce ATP
    • Ethanol, the alcohol found in beer, wines, and spirits, is metabolized in the same way as the alcohols found in whole grains, plant foods, and bee products
  • Another toxin that you'll find in alcohol is methylglyoxal
    • It has twice the power to cause damage compared to acetaldehyde
    • Derived in small amounts from carbohydrates, protein, and fat
  • Vegetables have more acetaldehyde than wine does
  • Cider has more acetaldehyde than vodka does
  • The problem is how much acetaldehyde gets into your body all at once and how equipped you are to metabolize it
  • All toxins, including those in alcohol, have the power to cause a hormetic effect
    • Can upregulate enzymes necessary for their metabolism
  • Alcohol is a stressor, but so are exercise, sauna, cold exposure, and calorie restriction
  • To help repair some of the muscle damage from work-outs:
  • Sauna:
  • Cold:
  • Meals:

-Dihydromericitin (DHM)…18:42

  • 2012 UCLA study on DHM (dihydromyricetin) — Dihydromyricetin as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication medication
  • DHM is an extract from the Japanese raisin tree
  • DHM blocks the effect of alcohol on GABA and glutamate neurotransmitters in the brain
    • Normally, alcohol binds to GABA receptors and activates them
    • That leads to relaxation, social lubrication, and sometimes excess confidence
    • Blocking GABA receptors prevents intoxication
  • If you want to feel the effects of alcohol, don’t take DHM
  • DHM on Amazon
  • DHM also accelerates the breakdown of alcohol (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
    • Increases the activity of liver enzymes, including antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
    • Helps your body metabolize alcohol
  • Taking DHM after drinking can take the edge off of the acetaldehyde buildup
  • Do not take right before bed if you are taking a binding agent
  • Mikhaila Peterson, Jordan Peterson's daughter, sent Ben her After Party remedy with DHM
  • Podcast with Zack Abbott:
  • Zbiotics (use code BEN to save 15%)
    • Allows your body to get the benefits of drinking without having as much acid aldehyde buildup
  • According to Chris Masterjohn
    • Most of the benefits of drinking kick in at about half a drink
    • Most of the deleterious effects of drinking tend to kick in after one to two drinks

-Binders and how they work…32:47

  • A binder is a specific compound that binds toxins and other metabolites and removes them via the digestive tract so they're not reabsorbed into the body
  • Ultra Binder by Quicksilver Scientific (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
    • Binders can be also used for acetaldehyde or the toxic byproducts of alcohol
    • The binder sits in your digestive tract and grabs toxins before they get reabsorbed
    • Also helps reduce stress on other elimination and detox organs like the liver and the kidney
    • Popular binders
    • Charcoal is very powerful and can bind and absorb anything you take along with it
    • Best to use 30 to 60 minutes after you consumed other supplements
    • Chlorella doesn't seem to bind the beneficial stuff quite as much

-Ben’s ad for his Spokane house…37:17

-What Ben drinks…39:12

-And much more…

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– Other Resources:

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