By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
December 13, 2015
The great thing about this time of year is definitely the weirdness of the alcohol industry. A Couple years ago, one of my favorite beers called Blue Moon introduced us to the Cinnamon Horchata Beer. Living in this part of the country, Horchata is kind of a long standing pleasure within the latino populace. Since I grew up in a more latino based neighborhood, the kids would always drink up the Horchata from the stores, drinking it the same way many kids of today drink up soda or energy drinks. You see, it is rice based milk that is heavily flavored with cinnamon and sugar, and was probably the inspiration for rice milk (okay, that might be a stretch, but this stuff was around way longer than all the nut milks). Anyway, I never cared much for the stuff, for I was more into the hibiscus drink called “Jamaica” and another fruity drink called “Tamarindo.” Yup, even back then I didn’t care much for milk or for milk substitutes. In fact, I was always the weird one in regards to the other kids, considering I absolutely hated all of the Mexican candies and stuff (there was literally a treat where it was nothing but salt…..salt! I stuck to my Red Vines during those days. hehe) so this year, the Blue Moon Brewing Company has introduced an even more ambitious winter ale called Gingerbread Spice Ale! On top of that, they introduced a couple of new blends that might give me reason to do a bee line to the nearest Wine and More; Chai Spiced Ale and Cappuccino Oatmeal Stout! This is the kind of crazy nonsense I would have dreamed up, and leave it to Blue Moon to beat me to the punch. Thank goodness for weird American ingenuity.
Now the cool thing about Tucson, which I have mentioned quite often, is the fact my little town is turning into quite the microbrew factory. For one thing, our state legislature, which screws the state over at every turn, seems to believe loose regulations on the beer industry will make up for their incompetence. But I guess if you have a drunken populace, you will have a forgetful populace. Since the regulations and the production allowances are higher than most states, many of the small breweries have a great opportunity to expand and shine. And we certainly need it, for my home state is continuously struggling with its economy. I know a lot of people might lose themselves in the bottle this Christmas season due to the fact a huge mine outside of Tucson just laid off a thousand people. Heck, I’m gainfully employed and the bottle kind of calls out to me from time to time, merely because I am in a lot of pain and I want to make it go away. The most common conversation I continuously hear at work is the drinking plans of various individuals that night. It seems like madness when I think about it, because a lot of hem show up tired and completely out of it, and I’m typically the one that has to keep them moving and in shape. And of course, there are always people that show up still reeking of the bottle. Unfortunately, too many cross the line and use this way of life as a way of coping, very similarly to what I used to do with food. I used to be pretty judgmental of these people, for I always felt the cost of alcohol would be the great equalizer in regards to kicking the habit. But then again, who was I to really judge at the time? When I finally crunched the numbers on my own habit, I was putting roughly 35% of my yearly paycheck into food, never thinking for once that consuming 12 tacos and a couple huge burritos was wrong. Either way, this is definitely the dark side of the alcohol industry, but at least the industry does have some laurels to keep falling back on.
For one thing, I have mentioned several times over the course of this blog that having small amounts of alcohol can actually be beneficial for you. Studies have already proven that alcohol, whether it be beer or red wine, can play a favorable role in your heart health. Having a glass a day can certainly help keep your arteries clear. Of course, if you take it too far or have already had some heart issues, drinking can cause the opposite effect and make you even sicker. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Alcohol-and-Heart-Health_UCM_305173_Article.jsp# There are some other benefits that people rarely talk about, like it can lengthen your life (once again, if you drink small amounts) and can actually help prevent gallstones (the alcohol helps disintegrate particulates and keeps them from getting trapped in your gall bladder, the main distributor for bile when food is entering the digestive system). There has always been some thoughts that alcohol might help with maintaining good brain health. These beliefs have been around since the 1970s, for a recent survey study from a few years back help put weight to this claim when looking across 143 studies, which encompassed 365,000 total subjects. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816112134.htm Now there seems to be some harder evidence to suggest alcohol consumption can be beneficial, for a new study illustrates that regular consumption in small amounts can actually aid in the battle against alzheimer’s. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816112134.htm
These days, the very utterance of the word “alzheimers” will acquire the attention of just about every person over 60 in a room. It’s on of those scary terms that a vast group of people will become instantly scared of, like “breast cancer” for women and “prostate cancer” for men. For me, the scariest words in my family was “diabetes” and “heart disease.” This was a major reason for me to accept a new diet and workout regimen that would keep my body healthy and fluid. But the mind is a completely different muscle. Alzheimer’s is a mix of a bad genetic dice roll and exterior forces. While some people may be more susceptible to the disease, recent research has also illustrated how it overtakes the mind as small metal deposits start sticking to the brain’s synapses. Eating a diet low in heavy metals is recommended (i.e. primarily plant based) while also doing your best to avoid non-food based metals that might get into your bloodstream, like aluminum or other alloys. Now the purpose of the study wasn’t out to prove whether alcohol could control alzheimer’s, but see how alcohol consumption could aid the health of those afflicted with the disease. Amongst the 321 participants in Denmark,where the study was conducted, the researcher’s concluded the mortality rate over the three years for the patients created a 77% lower risk of dying. The study certainly brings up a lot of questions, as to why alcohol would help someone in that condition or even how. But this is the purpose of studying something that will ultimately affect anyone. The researchers themselves believe more research will be necessary to figure out some more questions, such as will the alcohol consumption (2-3 cups a day) slow down cognitive decline or whether it will increase the quality of life for someone afflicted with this condition. This is some pretty good news for the beer industry, for the last few years they have been riding a wave of success in the health benefits department. Not only has alcohol been shown to reduce stress (obviously!), but it was also shown to reduce the risks of hart disease as well as reduce the risk of stroke.
So just remember one thing, don’t go out and start thinking that drinking a lot of alcohol is going to save your life. I’ve mentioned it before but the term “moderate” and “occasional” are the typical terms used in these sort of studies. This isn’t some reason to start drinking profusely. This past year alone has been a major year for alcohol, for we have consumed more alcohol than ever this past year. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/americans-are-drinking-more-lot-more-n347126 It seems the proliferation of bars and microbrews are creating more avenues for drinking. The main reason why people may be drinking more is the fact more and more cities are creating bar districts. Tucson has revitalized much of its downtown culture with the creation of bars and grills, wine bars and microbrews. If I really wanted to, I could probably pick a few bars downtown and witness a nearly unique selection for each. And then we have our main club and bar strip—4th Avenue—to add even more options and ideas to the mix. Of course, another big reason why consumption is going up is due to the fact women are becoming heavier drinkers as well, for recent surveys have indicated women are drinking more like, well, you know….like men. http://www.makers.com/blog/women-are-drinking-more Part of the reasoning is the bigger selection of alcohol and the more interesting ideas that are out there these days. While I enjoy a good IPA (particularly Ryelander from Dragoon, which is 8.9% alcohol!! http://www.dragoonbrewing.com/ryelander/), I have been with lady friends and dates that actually drank beer with me. One friend consumed a delicious coffee stout while a recent date I was with was loving a light vanilla porter. I believe this new variety of alcohol kind of replaces the ultra expensive mixed drink, for beer is less costly in many cases and less alcoholic.
Aside from the trends that are growing right now, these type of studies need to be conducted in order to give the general public an idea of personal health. Since this is the time of the year where a lot of people kind of abuse this issue, we have to remember there are plenty of downsides to alcohol consumption as well. Aside from the obvious facts of impairment, it can also severely dehydrate you and when consumed en masse, make you extremely sick. It can severely damage your liver, pancreas and even the lining of your stomach. I’m not going to advocate to people about not drinking, but you have to remember the dangers in addition to the positives. I no way am I the right person to tell people not to do something. Every day, I imagine myself pigging out and eating more food than I should. I imagine myself snacking on grub all day, wondering when I will stop. And let’s not forget about the coffee, for the colder weather is starting to send shockwaves into my brain, making me long for the warm brown liquid. So just remember, doing something for health is one thing, but don’t mistake self destructive hedonism with self preservation.
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