In the very first Renegade Health Radio show, Kevin and Frederic ramble about the pluses and minuses of drinking alcohol, Kevin’s book deal with Hay House, and the future of this podcast. Let us know how you like it!
Listen here now:
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NOTE: The Sardinian wine mentioned by Frederic is called Cannonau.
Alcohol: The Good, the Bad, and the Pub Signs
- Is alcohol good for you, or bad for you?
- How much should men drink per week for health benefits? Women?
- What do Kevin and Fred think of the potential benefits of alcohol?
- What have the studies shown so far?
- If you don’t currently drink, should you start?
Kevin: Renegade Health Radio, welcome. This is Kevin Gianni and…
Kevin: There he is, good, making sure that we have the audio here. What’s going on my friend?
Frederic: It’s been a great week. I’ve been working on someone’s book.
Kevin: Who’s that?
Frederic: I don’t know. A friend of mine who asked me to help research a little bit for his book and you know, love it, a lot of interesting stuff that I’m coming up with on alcohol, actually. So the immoral question is, “Is it good for us? Is it bad for us? Or is it good in small doses? What is a small dose? What is a moderate dose? What is too much?” That kind of stuff. So that’s kind of what’s been new. I’m drinking a lot of tea. We could talk about that or…
Kevin: I thought you were going to say I’m actually drinking a lot of alcohol now.
Frederic: Yeah that would have been good.
Kevin: Fred’s had a couple of glasses of Sardinian wine before this program.
Frederic: Exactly. Well actually I ordered—I was doing some research on the wine that they’re drinking in Sardinia in that—essentially, the wine that’s making them live so long, apparently. It’s called Cannonau and I ordered it so I have two bottles of this wine. It’s been registered as the highest in antioxidants. I haven’t tried it. I need a good occasion for that, but it’s the wine. I’ll let you know maybe in a future program if it’s the cure for all diseases.
Kevin: Well, I mean, I would think if it’s a healthy wine then it would be good all the time, right?
Frederic: Yeah well, what’s been interesting in researching this topic is that there seems to be like a disconnect between like the media stories and the actual science. What is your perception of the media’s message on alcohol, or does it change from—is it different—maybe it’s different here where I live in Montreal and Quebec, where you know, the government’s actually making a lot of money selling alcohol. Or maybe in the U.S. people have different attitudes. So what do you think, Kevin? Is the general kind of—the story line that’s being told in the media about wine and beer?
Kevin: Yeah, for me. I think at least in the U.S. the media is always sensational, so any type of extreme is probably going to be the one that they’re going to go with. And so whether it’s you can drink as much as you want, you know, or drink whiskey because it’s good for who knows. Someone said to me in the office the other day, they said, “Some alcohols are good for fertility.” And I’m like, so wait a minute. Is it good actually like chemically good for fertility, or is it just the fact that you drink alcohol and you get a little more promiscuous? So here in the United States and at least I’m sure across all media they just want to send sensationalist stories, so I’m imagining that the information and what I’ve read at least is—and it’s always contradictory and it almost seems that there are certain times when this stuff comes out where people—the media will be saying, “Hey, drink as much alcohol as you want. It’s okay.” In general, the media doesn’t go to that extreme, but then there’s the other side where the media—where I’ve seen articles where people have done studies where people who don’t drink tend to die earlier from disease and now whether drinking is the actual control…I mean, not the control, but that’s actually a factor that’s contributing to that. I don’t know, man. I’m not in these labs doing these studies. I’m not these people. I think that you and I, Fred, could probably put together a better study than some researchers out there, but I also think that we wouldn’t be paid by the alcohol companies to put it together, or some other…maybe, who knows what other kind of group would be against alcohol. So anyway that’s kind of my thought on it.
Frederic: Well, the research seems to be kind of pretty straight forward in the sense that all studies have found that a moderate consumption of alcohol—whether it’s wine, beer, or spirits, it doesn’t really matter—but it kind of slightly cuts death rates in many…you know, in China, they’ve done a study, the Harvard Medical School did a study, actually it’s not—the study is not completely finished now, but it’s been following men between the ages of 40 and 84 and the men drinking a small amount of alcohol lived longer and suffered fewer cancers, heart disease and so on. But the amount that they’re drinking is actually pretty small, you know. It’s something like no more than like two drinks a day. Something like that. But in other studies, it’s more like if you, yeah—if you go above a certain amount it’s…the opposite happens, in all the studies, actually. And for women, it seems that the margin is very small, actually. Even in women drinking three to nine drinks a week, they were more likely to develop breast cancers. The margin is pretty small, like a few drinks a week. But yes, we can talk about what I think about it from doing this research for the book, which we’re not going to talk about what is this mysterious book.
Kevin: Why don’t we do that too? The one question I always have, though—so before we get into that, I want to know, is it two drinks for what? It’s just like the eight-ounce glasses of water a day recommendation. That blanket recommendation. It doesn’t make sense. If Annmarie, my wife, as you guys know, she’s 120 some-odd pounds. She’s very thin. If she drinks eight eight-ounce glasses of water, she’s swimming, and if I drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water, I’m almost 200 pounds, what does that look like for me in terms of just our body volume? It doesn’t make sense. So I always joke, you know, if I have a glass of wine or two glasses of wine and Annmarie has one, who are the studies looking at? Are they looking at my two glasses of wine for my body size or are they looking at one glass of wine for Annmarie’s body size, which is almost equivalent?
Frederic: Yes. I get you, and I have some thoughts on that because you know, what is good about alcohol, we can talk about it, but mainly what we’re concerned about is what can be bad. So, you know, alcohol is a type of sugar and it’s super rich in calories. It’s methanol, so it’s 224 calories per ounce. It’s more than white sugar, but we don’t drink pure methanol. We drink it diluted. I mean, wine has alcohol in it, but it’s not the only thing that it contains. So the body breaks it down, right? It uses it as a source of energy, but as a by-product of this metabolism there is this substance that is formed called acetaldehyde. And this is the thing that is turned later into another substance called acetate and then it’s eliminated from the body, that substance. But in the meantime when there’s this acetaldehyde builds up in the body, that’s when people feel sick, you know, and that could be the reason why there are some studies that show additional cancers and more cancer rates in some populations drinking too much or some women for breast cancer and so on. Maybe it’s this substance. It’s a by-product of metabolism of alcohol.
But the bottom line is, you know, if you drink too much, it builds up in the body and that’s when it’s bad. But you talked about body size, and that’s what I’m learning is, I mean, we all know that if you drink on an empty stomach, it kind of goes straight to your brain and that’s true, actually, because the way alcohol is metabolized has to do with dilution. So food dilutes alcohol, so it’s absorbed in a slower kind of time frame. And if you drink beer instead of drinking whiskey, it’s also going to be absorbed slower because it’s more diluted. So it depends what you drink. It depends how big you are, how much food you’ve had, and so on, but I think the bottom line is we don’t want that alcohol to be metabolized very quickly. If you’re going to drink, drinking spirits is probably a bad idea because it’s so concentrated, but drinking like a glass of wine along with some food is definitely not going to be a problem for most people. And the limit seems to be, you know, for sure, two to four drinks a week. I mean, there are definitely no issues for health for anybody.
But again, could it be more probably for men, more than this, you know, but probably not drinking every day would be good either. And women, I think they have to be careful, like a few drinks a week seems to be fine. The research kind of shows that there are benefits to drinking, but my big question is are we going to start drinking because of those benefits because people want an excuse to drink or want a reason to drink? But I don’t think there’s any compelling health reason to start drinking. It’s more…Okay, we know all the social aspects of drinking and having an occasional drink, relaxation, have fun amongst friends, and then if it’s not so bad for you, it could actually be a little good for you, then that’s something most people would like to be able to enjoy a few times a week, a few times a month, whatever. And that seems to be fine. But why is it that we find this research that shows that drinking some alcohol is like reducing death rates? It could be for many reasons. Dr. Ferman says it’s because alcohol is actually a blood-thinning substance, so people are less likely to die of a heart attack because of that. But it’s like a medicine. So if you’re eating a healthy diet, he says that you’re probably not getting any benefits from the alcohol because the benefits of alcohol, according to him and many other people, are when you have a crappy diet. So it’s kind of like people taking a baby aspirin every day to prevent heart disease. So it’s kind of like that. It could be kind of like that.
Kevin: You wouldn’t switch out your kale smoothie with a glass of wine is what you’re saying.
Kevin: I get it. I mean, it’s one of those things where this science is for people, this is almost, almost a little bit of justification for people who want to continue doing what they’re doing. I mean that’s kind of what it is. Like who wants to be told that they can’t—if you like to have a glass of wine, who wants to be told that you have to stop doing it? It’s just like in a regular healthy diet. I mean, if you have one little fix, that you need to get every day, maybe it’s your chocolate, maybe it’s your cake, maybe it’s your doughnut, or maybe it’s your whatever, and in the largest scheme of things, if you have a small bit of that one thing on a regular basis, your health will still be fine. I think we can look to the blue zones where Fredrick and I—we really kind of spend a lot of time looking at the blue zones where you look at everyone’s diet—these are some of the longest-lived…let me back up a little bit.
These are some of the longest lived people that exist in the world today. When you go back and you look at their diets, a lot of the foods are ridiculously different. I mean, ridiculously different. Some of them drink coffee. Some of them eat rice and beans. Some of them eat more of a Mediterranean-type diet. Some of them eat a lot of dairy products. Some of them don’t eat any dairy products. So you look at this and your mind is instantly blown by the fact that none of them eat the same thing. And look, none of them eat quinoa. You know we’re talking about quinoa, which is a modern-day health food, and everyone’s speaking volumes to it and none of these long-lived cultures eat it. Now does that mean that quinoa’s a bad food for you? Absolutely not, but it just means that when we look at these things, we have to look beyond the food. And so in this case—or we need to look at some of the things internally and say, “Hey, wait a minute! You know maybe some of the foods that these people are eating are really healthy.” And so, for instance, like the Sardinian wine which I kind of want to know a little bit more about, Fred, because it is kind of interesting. What’s so different about this type of wine? Is it just DNA oxidants?
Frederic: Pretty much. I mean that’s—
Kevin: Lower alcohol content than California wine though, right?
Frederic: Yeah, well, probably not, actually. I can give you the alcohol content, but generally if wines that come from warm regions have more alcohol than wines that come from colder regions. It’s pretty simple because grapes growing in warmer areas have more sugar in them, and then more sugar means more sugar is turned into alcohol. So you know, that’s why we find that Australian wines are clocking 15 or 16 percent alcohol, and then you have champagne, wine, that’s maybe 11 percent alcohol or 12 percent. And a white wine from Germany might be 9 or 10 percent alcohol.
So the colder the climate, the less alcohol there’s going to be. So I don’t think it’s the alcohol necessarily. They say it’s the antioxidants. I think, you know, you can probably get these antioxidants from eating fruits and vegetables. But again, if you don’t consume a great diet, and then you take in this kind of wine on a regular basis, it might be really good for you because that’s your source of antioxidants, but if you consume a head of kale every day, I don’t think you should really be looking into what kind of wine specifically to drink to optimize your health. I mean, drink whatever you want in moderation, but I understand, though, the power of seduction of something new or something that’s supposed to be the best in the world. You know we want that, right?
Kevin: I also like the idea of not necessarily alcohol, but finding some sort of stress relief kind of tool. You don’t want to lean on a crutch like alcohol for stress relief, but a lot of people that I talk to when they tell me about their drinking habits is they’ll come home, they’ll relax a little bit, maybe they’ll put their kids to bed and then they’ll have a glass of wine. And it’s a total decompress kind of experience. And you know again, to each their own in terms of what you want to do in terms of your health, but I totally agree with Fred, that if you don’t drink, don’t start. Who knows if you have the alcoholism gene. That’s something that’s very serious that kind of is the complete other side of this issue. And if you do drink, you know, enjoy it responsibly and maybe have a couple glasses of wine. Laughter is an incredible medicine so if you’re with great friends and you’re eating great farm-to-table delicious real food, you can indulge a little bit, and hopefully you don’t overdo it and hopefully we’re right. Otherwise, you know, we’re giving you all the wrong information and don’t come back to us later and say it didn’t work.
Frederic: Well, I think alcohol is just not a health food. I mean, it shouldn’t be in the category of health food that people should consume more of, but it’s not like…
Kevin: Unless they want to become more fertile.
Kevin: But no, fertile is the wrong word, because alcohol is actually linked to infertility, but unless you want to become more promiscuous.
Frederic: You know a little wine—I mean, beer, and so on, can be great, you know, and it’s the social context, right, and it is a medicine. So you know it’s got some side effects and it’s got some positive effects as well in the sense that if you take a little bit of it, who knows, it might prevent you from dying of a heart attack. But again, if you’re on a really good diet, that’s not the reason to do it.
Kevin: Amen to that! My mother actually forwarded me an email from the British Pub site. This was just yesterday, so this is actually working pretty well. So this is what one of them said. So imagine walking past a pub and seeing this on a sign. It says, “I distrust camels and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.” Here’s another one. This is for a bar called Delirium and it says, “The Craftsman” and it says, “The perfect Martini.” It says, “Step one: pour gin, vermouth, and olives into the trash where they belong. And number two: Drink whiskey. Bar is open.”
Frederic: There’s also a quote that I like: “One martini is perfect. Two is too many and three are not enough.”
Kevin: Amen to that. Hey you know what we didn’t do, Fred, is we didn’t even tell everyone what the context of the show. We just started up and just started talking about alcohol, which I think is cool because it’s a little bit of an interesting diversion from what you and I normally talk about in a space like this. We do talk about it on the blog. Let me give everyone a little bit of a taste of what’s happening here. This is the Renegade Health Radio. We are here for you guys to provide information and provide hopefully interesting discussions about topics just like this. We’ll probably bring some guests on. We’re going to kind of see how it goes over time, but for now we’re going to go through some of the things that we want to talk about and we think are valuable for you guys to know. And we’ll be doing it weekly and weekly will be enough for now. It won’t be like the Renegade Health Show where I’m coming on every single day for four years. Oh my gosh! It was a lot of work and it was a labor of love and you know you do get a little burnt out. But we’re going to be doing this as we go along.
Additionally, what we’re talking about in terms of the book is I did get a Hayhouse book deal, a book deal that will—the first draft is due in August or something like that, and Fred is going to help do some of the research for that book and so I’m excited about that too as you can tell. He’s good. He knows what he’s talking about. So that should be a lot of fun. So that’s a little bit of a context of what we’re doing here. Fred, do you have anything else to add to that?
Frederic: Well, we want this to be a Friday show, right? So Friday is a day where your week is behind you, and you can relax and listen to some great information, but not be too serious. So we won’t be too serious, right? There are probably going to be a lot of shows where we’re just going to talk a lot about nonsense. We want to warn you.
Kevin: We do want to warn you up front. I think another way we can kind of classify this is that Fred and I are just tired of the stiff regular health information. As you can tell, we have personality; we like to have fun, and we’re just tired of the guru just standing up on the soap box just saying you can’t eat this, you have to eat this, you need to take three of these. You need to spin around in circles and tap your crystal and do all these sorts of things. We’re done with that. It’s over and Renegade Health, obviously renegade, right? We’re a little bit renegade here and Renegade Health Radio is just waiting for us to just let the heck loose, you know, just kind of say, “Hey, we’re here. We’re here for you, and we want to blow off some steam too and give some great information along the way.”
Frederic: Who knows where this is going to go.
Kevin: Yeah who knows? We’re going on a path with machetes here. It is rough ahead and we’ll see what happens. Let me read one of these before we go, another one of these, because this one’s funny. This is another pub sign. It says, “Come in and meet your future ex-wife.” I think before we turn everyone off we should probably close out in this one and chalk this up as the first episode as a new way to get some information to you. And actually a new way for me to get back, you know, to you guys, because again, I’ve been writing less and less and have been working with the skin care business and all sorts of stuff. So it actually feels really good to be here and actually have a public voice again. Do you think it’s all right Fred?
Frederic: Yeah, yeah definitely. I mean, we want you to be present. Part of Renegade Health and I think people miss you, miss your voice and they miss your love. But really I think it’s going to be great and we don’t know how many—like how long the shows are going to be. Like you know, maybe you guys want a longer show for a longer drive. Who knows, you know. Let us know. I mean this is—like I told Kevin, I said the first show is going to be the worst.
Kevin: I don’t think this one was that bad.
Frederic: Yeah, yeah. I hope so.
Kevin: Well let us know on the blog. Let me close out with one more of these pub signs because I just love them. So this is the last one. I think this is fitting for Renegade Heath too. It says, “Alcohol! Because no great story started with someone eating a salad.” Adios guys!
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