The Healthiest Alcoholic Drink, From A Registered Dietitian

While 70% of Americans drink alcohol, recent medical studies have shown that these numbers peak with with temporal specificity, and that average drink consumption trends significantly higher during event specific times like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. With the holidays fast approaching, the sobering realities of consuming alcohol are worth considering.

Holidays – especially Thanksgiving Day – have shown significant changes in sleep quality with prevalence of alcohol use, as adult behavioral shifts associated with public holidays continue to be studied.

Hardly ground-breaking news, alcohol — despite how moderate its consumption may be — is not healthy. But what you choose to drink, according to Registered Dietitian Megan DeChatelets, can certainly have an impact on alcohol’s negative physical side effects. “It’s the first question I ask my patients: What do they drink and how often,” said Ms. DeChatelets, an RD consultant for Hilma, the first natural remedy brand of its kind that is backed by clinical research. In 2022, Hilma sold its majority stake to French pharmaceutical company the Biocodex Group after only three years on the market.

“Like with food, it’s a much healthier option to drink something with a single ingredient.”

Many may think tequila is the safest bet, but The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) – the government-certified organization tasked with regulating and certifying new tequilas – allows for the inclusion of additives in tequila labeled “100% agave”, so long as the additives make up 1% or under of the total liquid. The four most common additives are sugar-based syrup, glycerin, oak extract, and caramel coloring. These additives do not need to be disclosed anywhere on the bottle.

This fact outrages purists who believe their top shelf, expensive tequilas have no added sugars or coloring. Sugary alcohols have proven to contribute to worsened hangovers, added dehydration, and the other physical aftermaths of drinking.

A case for mezcal

Unlike tequila, Mezcal’s additives must be labeled. These additives typically refer to the ingredients that are sometimes added in the final stages, like pechuga — a process that involves hanging raw chicken or turkey breast inside the still during distillation. These varieties are rare and culturally celebrated. Otherwise, mezcal must be made by 100% agave per Mexican government regulators in Oaxaca – even in industrialized settings.

“Having those pure ingredients is really important,” said Ms. DeChatelets about her dietary practice. “I’m along the same lines when I talk about food – clean labels, that’s what you want to look for.”

The lack of gluten in mezcal as opposed to other spirits like vodka, is also something to strongly be considered when choosing a drink. “In alcohol, specifically, gluten is something that a lot of people aren’t thinking about. When you have sensitivities and have to be careful about it, it does become really important.”

To support the body after drinking, especially during the holiday season, Ms. DeChatelets recommends Hilma’s Stomach Recover + Hydrate supplement to restore gut balance and help stay hydrated.

“For my clients who are absolutely unwilling to give up alcohol, neat mezcal would be the thing I’d suggest – I like to meet people where they are with a protocol that’s actually sustainable,” said Christina Miller, lead certified Ayurvedic practitioner and founder at Thrive Ayurveda in Santa Barbara, California.

“Supporting small-batch brands and smaller manufacturers can be safest when you’re interested in maintaining label and product purity,” Ms. Miller added.

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