You’ll see both long and short term benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption – some of which you can see immediately. The benefits that you can see from going alcohol-free can be grouped into physical health, mental health, relationship health and also the health of your wealth. We’ll cover each of these and explain which you can expect to see straight away and which will take a little longer to notice when it comes to the benefits of alcohol-free beer and other low alcohol drinks.
The Health Benefits of Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine and other drinks
Some of the immediate health benefits of going alcohol-free are easy to see and easy to understand – the lower calorie intake of what you’re drinking is an easy one that can have an immediate impact on your waistline. (So long, of course, as you don’t replace your full strength beer with a high-calorie soft drink!) But other benefits of dropping the amount of alcohol in your life are longer-term, and unless you’re taking note of them you might not spot them for a while, welcome though they are. In this article, we’ll cover the
- Physical health benefits of alcohol-free beers, ciders, wines and more
- Mental health benefits of alcohol-free ciders, beers, wines and more
- Relationship health benefits of alcohol-free drinks
- Financial health benefits of lowering alcohol intake
If you want to start with the basics, try this post on “What is Alcohol-Free?” where we cover the definitions and explanations as to why that’s not a simple question.
Physical Health Benefits of Alcohol-free Drinks
Alcohol-Free drinks can help you Stay Hydrated
Alcohol-free beers and other drinks are a great way to rehydrate your body. We all need water and more than we think we do. The vast majority of us don’t drink enough water during the way for a healthy hydration level (I’m definitely guilty of this). The NHS says that we should drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. It’s often said you don’t realize that you’re getting dehydrated until you ARE dehydrated. Dehydration affects your concentration, makes you feel tired and can make you lightheaded. Dehydration is also a major symptom in hangovers.
While alcoholic beer is a diuretic – which means it increases your desire to pee and can leave you feeling dehydrated, as you generally don’t experience any desire to rehydrate with non-alcoholic drinks!
Studies have shown that beer with an ABV of less than 2% does NOT increase your desire to pee, nor your urine output. So, having a non-alcoholic beer or drink after exercise will benefit your rehydration process.
Alcohol-free Beer Helps Your Body Recover After Exercise
The act of physical exercise tends to dehydrate us, and while having a well-deserved beer after a game of squash might be a fabulous social activity and will likely quench your thirst, it’s not going to rehydrate you and can contribute to additional dehydration.
There are several ingredients in alcohol-free beer that actually help with your rehydration. Alcohol-free beer tends to contain electrolytes which help you absorb fluids more easily. Sodium and carbohydrates present in alcohol-free beer also help your body to repair itself after a bout of strenuous exercise.
Alcohol-free Beer Helps You Sleep Better
First, let’s explore what happens when you drink alcohol and how it disrupts your sleep.
Hops (one of the main ingredients of beer) can act as a sedative. Yes, that’s right there’s a scientific and chemical reason that you want to fall asleep after a few beers. Hops contain compounds called xanthohumol and myrecenol which are essentially sedatives and which can improve your sleep patterns, by increasing the activity of neural activity and allowing your brain to relax.
Alcohol disrupts your sleep pattern – you’ll generally fall asleep quickly, and spend more time in deep sleep and a shorter amount of time in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that we need to restore our bodies.
Alcohol also usually means you need to get up in the night to go to the toilet – the combination of the additional liquid you’ve consumed, plus the fact that alcohol is a diuretic means that it’s encouraging your body to get rid of the extra fluid. So add that to your sleep disruption. And if you wake up in a sweat too? That’s the diuretic too – convincing your body to lose that fluid whatever way it can. All contributing to poor sleep.
The hops in alcohol-free beer still contain those compounds xanthohumol and myrecenol that act as sedatives without the alcohol. And so, yes, alcohol-free beer CAN help you sleep. It’s got the good stuff to give you a good nights sleep without the bad stuff to wake you up!
Alcohol-free Beer can help Heart Health and Reduce Cardiovascular Disease
Excessive alcohol can cause fat to accumulate in your arteries because it elevates your “triglycerides”. These are a type of fat – a lipid – that is found naturally in your blood. When you consume calories your body converts any that it doesn’t need to use immediately into these triglycerides, which are stored in your fat cells. When your body needs energy later your hormones release them for us.
The fats that accumulate in your arteries cause the thickening and hardening of your artery walls, which can leave to heart conditions such as heart attacks, strokes or an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia.
When you drink alcohol it is broken down by the liver and an enzyme called dehydrogenases. If you drink excessively then this enzyme is saturated and a different process occurs which oxidises something called LDL – or bad cholesterol – which is then deposited in your arteries causing a thrombosis (a blood clot in an artery).
So where does alcohol-free beer come into this? Several studies have found that the organic polyphenols derived from the hops in beer can help the health of your blood vessels. These compounds, which remain behind after the alcohol has been removed helps reduce the build-up of this bad cholesterol and in some cases increase the cells which repair and maintain the walls of your arteries.
Alcohol-free Beer Helps Weight Loss
Most alcoholic drinks are high in calories or mixed with juices that have a lot of sugar. Your body processes the alcohol before other nutrients and those nutrients that aren’t needed immediately are converted to fat and stored, on amongst other places, your waist and hips. Consuming alcohol also stimulates your appetite and so you’re likely to eat more than you usually would. So when it comes to weight gain, alcohol has something of a double whammy – more calories and convincing you to consume more calories.
Alcohol-free beer can have a great taste and significantly lower calories – take Infinite Sessions Pale (read more here) at just 11 kcal per 100ml, yet it tastes exactly like a craft ale.
Alcohol-free beer tends to have significantly fewer calories than regular beer – there are some examples below of the calorie content of the alcohol-free version of beers compared to a regular beer. Additionally, if you’re drinking alcohol-free beer you’re not consuming the alcohol that stimulates your appetite, so it’s a double whammy wine for alcohol-free beer and weight loss.
|Beck’s Lager Beer||Beck’s Blue (Alcohol Free Lager)|
|Calories / 100 ml||38||14|
|Brewdog Punk IPA||Brewdog Punk AF (Alcohol Free)|
|Calories / 100 ml||48||15|
|Infinite Session IPA|
|Calories / 100 ml||12 kcal|
The Risk of Osteoporosis can be reduced with Alcohol-Free Beer
One of the non-alcohol ingredients of beer is silicon, which comes from hops and malted barley which are high in this chemical which is known to strengthen bones. Silicon consumed in this way may even increase bone mineral density. Any process that removes the alcohol from beer does NOT remove silicon.
Drinking Alcohol-Free Beer Helps your Liver Function Better
Your liver is designed to filter toxins from the body. It’s also designed to repair itself if treated right. Over a period of time, alcohol can impact liver function and cirrhosis of the liver can occur with excessive drinking. Cirrhosis is the scarring of liver tissue which prevents it from working properly. Liver repair can occur within just a few weeks of lowering or removing alcohol intake – it’s not just alcohol that the liver works to remove as a toxin from your body.
Alcohol-free Beer is full of Vitamins
It’s true that full-strength beer has these vitamins too, but alcohol-free beer provides them without the downsides of alcohol.
- Vitamin B2: required to help your body process oxygen and energy
- Vitamin B3: needed for brain function and lowering cholesterol
- Vitamin B6: for red blood cells and healthy skin
- Vitamin B7: needed for energy
- Vitamin B9: helps to transport blood around the body
- Vitamin B12: helps to produce red blood cells
Alcohol-free Beer is full of Minerals
Alcohol-free beer contains a variety of minerals which are key to the support and maintenance of your body. These are not removed from the beer when the alcohol is removed. Some of the minerals contained in alcohol-free beer include:
- Iron: this helps oxygen to be transported around your body
- Calcium: for stronger teeth and bones
- Zinc: required for your immune system
- Sodium: needed for regulating fluid levels and also for your nervous system
- Selenium: helps with the immune system
- Potassium: for the nervous system, levels of fluid in your body and also muscles.
Mental Health Benefits of Alcohol-free Drinks
Alcohol-free Beer Helps Improve Your Memory
Alcohol impairs the communications between neurons, affecting short-term memory loss and brain function. Concentration levels can also be significantly affected. Over a longer period of time, this can lead to severe memory loss and also affect your ability to learn new things. It can specifically cause longer-term damage in developing brains.
Switching to alcohol-free beer removes this effect – alcohol-free beer does not impair the neuron communication and causes no altered brain function.
Alcohol-free Beer Helps Balance your Moods
Alcohol temporarily boosts the serotonin levels in your bloodstream which is what gives you the short-term feelings of increased happiness it is ultimately a depressant. The periods of increased happiness caused by alcohol are usually followed by a drastic shift in mood, which can lead to depression. Reducing alcohol intake can stabilise your moods and remove the seesaw of mood swings and improve your mental health.
Relationship Health Benefits of Alcohol-free Drinks
I’m sure there are many more relationship benefits to alcohol-free beer and drinks, but for me the two to focus on are both related.
The first is that you’re less likely to snore if you drink alcohol-free beer. I’m not saying that giving up alcohol will stop you snoring but it definitely helps. Drinking alcohol can make you snore more. Alcohol will relax your muscles and stop the air flowing smoothly in your nose, mouth and throat. A relationship can improve immeasurably if one party doesn’t snore so much. Or so my husband tells me…
Related to the first relationship benefit of drinking alcohol-free drinks is the second benefit – and that’s about much better sleep. When you and your partner get a decent nights sleep, no waking dry-mouthed in the middle of the night while desperate for a pee for instance. And no night sweats because you had one or two too many the night before. Yeah, that all contributes to a serious relationship uplift if you don’t have to deal with those!
The Financial Health Benefits of Alcohol-free Drinks
Is alcohol-free beer cheaper than regular beer? Yes. Low alcohol wine usually comes in at a minimum of £5 a bottle. If you’re looking for how drinking alcohol-free drinks can benefit you financially, then there are several benefits.
Some alcohol-free beers and drinks are cheaper than those with alcohol. You need to watch out for the deals. So while I’ve said “no necessarily”, here are some of the deals available to save money by drinking alcohol-free and low alcohol.
- Becks Lager is usually about £2.55 a litre, Becks Blue (Alcohol-free Lager) about £1.70 a litre
- Estrella Damm Lager is usually £3.54 a litre, Free Damm Alcohol-free Lager is usually £2.53 a litre
- A bottle of Nosecco Sparkling “Wine” can be found on offer for £3. Processo today is retailing for between £6 and £7.
- A premixed 250ml Tesco own brand Gin and Tonic in cans retails for £4 for four cans. Their Low Alcohol premixed “Gin & Tonic” gives you four cans of the same volume for £3.
- Brewdog regularly offer 25% off their AF ranges
- Infinite Session regularly offer a second case for 50% off
To look at other financial benefits of alcohol-free beer, then look at alcohol alters your eating habits. Without alcohol to overstimulate your desire to eat you’re less likely to impulse eat and therefore reduce your costs there.
FAQs on the benefits of alcohol-free beer
Got questions about the benefits of alcohol-free drinks? Or want to know something specific about low alcohol beer and its benefits to your health and we haven’t answered your questions? Check out our frequently asked questions about the benefits of alcohol-free beer below, or ask us yours in the comments.
What are the benefits of being alcohol-free?
There are four categories of benefits of alcohol-free drinks – physical health, mental health, financial health and relationship health. We’ve covered additional benefits under each of these headings earlier in this article.
Yes. Alcohol-free beer tends to be slightly cheaper than alcoholic beer and also usually comes with special offers at certain times of the year.
Final words on the benefits of alcohol-free beer and alcohol-free drinks
We do enjoy beer, wine and the occasional cocktail or gin and tonic. However, we also like exploring the entire world of food and drink. It’s great to understand all the benefits of alcohol-free beer, wine and more and to explore the great taste that these products have today as well. Let us know how you’re benefiting from alcohol-free drinks!