Experiencing bourbons and other whiskeys is an enjoyable pastime. However, whether you are a seasoned bourbon enthusiast or someone new to the bourbon-drinking club, it is essential to know how to drink whiskey and stay healthy at the same time. Why? Whiskey is alcohol; as a result, there are inherent dangers in drinking too much or not preparing your body for even moderate alcohol intake. So, what are some tips for healthy whiskey drinking, and what can you do to help ensure good health if you are a bourbon enthusiast?
Enjoy the Bourbon Tasting Experience
Whiskey comes in many delicious forms, from single malt, scotch, bourbon, rye, and other types of whiskey. Taking time to enjoy the whiskey-tasting experience helps you moderate your drinking habits.
Pour one finger of whiskey at a time, the equivalent of about 1 ounce, and savor that pour. Attempt to pick out the different aromatic notes of the whiskey. Enjoy the experience as you taste it. Take your time to pick out the flavors. Toggle back and forth between nosing and drinking the whiskey.
The bourbon-tasting experience should be a leisurely and enjoyable process. You will find that you enjoy whiskey more when unhurried and relaxed. When you take this approach, you drink less whiskey than you otherwise would.
Moderation and Listening to Your Body
The impact of alcohol on an individual is different from person to person. Every "body" responds differently to alcohol consumption. With this in mind, listen to your body. Your body often tells you when to take a break from alcohol consumption. Some people will take off one week a month as part of their routine. Others will have a "dry" month when the need arises.
Follow a healthy habit that works for you and allows you to maintain a healthy perspective on bourbon drinking. If you already have health problems, you must factor that into your habits. That raises the question, what is moderate alcohol consumption?
What Is Moderate Drinking?
Everyone is different; however, the United States government has set some moderation-related dietary guidelines.
- Moderation For Women: No more than 1.5 ounces of 80-proof whiskey daily.
- Moderation For Men: No more than 3.0 ounces of 80-proof whiskey daily.
Drink Lots of Water Before and After Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), "Alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone produced by the brain that sends signals to the kidneys causing them to retain fluid. As a result, alcohol increases urination and excess loss of fluids." If you know you will drink bourbon at a particular time, let's say in the evening, make sure you drink water during the day. After you've had your bourbon for the night, drink a full glass of water before bed. Do this even if you are moderate in your drinking habits.
Dehydration and the Brain
Drinking the proper amount of water is vital for bourbon enthusiasts because alcohol causes dehydration which can shrink brain tissue, creating headaches in the short term and memory loss over time. Additionally, dehydration from drinking too much whiskey can cause slow bowel function while causing fatigue or low energy levels, weight gain, mental fog, and skin problems. Prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and even kidney failure.
To prevent dehydration, prepare your body by drinking plenty of water and eating foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables.
Some of My Habits
I consume alcohol frequently because I enjoy the whiskey-tasting experience and often write bourbon reviews. However, I have yet to find a need to take more than a week off from drinking because I maintain a conscientious weekly schedule. Here's my routine:
- Limit my drinking to 4 days a week.
- Drink one finger at a time (1 ounce) and typically less than 4 ounces when drinking something I love.
- I focus on the tasting experience (aromas, flavors, etc.); as a result, I drink less.
- I drink plenty of fluids before drinking whiskey.
- I drink a full glass of water after drinking (yeah, I may have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but that's a small price to pay)
- On certain days, I will purposely not drink when I want a drink to ensure I have control.
Good Health to You
Anything you can do to moderate your drinking habits will be worthwhile. Remember, long-term consumption of large amounts of alcohol can lead to different types of cancers, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, low blood sugar in diabetics, stroke, or heart failure. These are just a few consequences. Nevertheless, being a bourbon enthusiast can be fun and healthy if you are mindful of your drinking routine—good health to you.