You may have heard terms such as “sober curious” or “alcohol-free” a lot more than you used to. These new trendy words are all the buzz on social media, yet the sober curious movement is more than just a trend. 

Alcohol has been such a staple in the social culture of our modern society. However, a new generation is debunking social norms and starting a sober curious movement. 

Some researchers say younger people are choosing not to drink alcohol because they grew up with alcoholism and didn’t want to end up down that path. Others say it’s because Gen Z is more health-conscious than previous generations.

Yet, it’s not just Gen Z’s health consciousness spearheading the sober curious movement. A review of past studies has debunked the belief that there are health benefits to alcohol. Let’s discuss these new reports and why the sober curious movement is more than just a trend.

A Sober Curious Movement

“Dry January”  is a popular social media trend that began several years ago. People participating in “Dry January” give up drinking alcohol for the entire month of January as a health reset from the holidays.

This sparked the sober curious movement for Millennials and Gen Zers, who are emphasizing wellness and curiosity for enjoying life in new ways. 

What Does “Sober Curious” Mean?

The sober curious movement, coined by author Ruby Warrington, challenges societal norms surrounding drinking. It allows people to question the role alcohol plays in their life, becoming more mindful of their drinking habits. This movement is a natural extension as health, wellness, and mindfulness are becoming mainstream.

Gen Z has a reputation for being more health-conscious than previous generations were at their age. According to Google research, 41% of Gen Zers associate alcohol with “vulnerability,” “anxiety,” and even “abuse.” 

This generation says that drinking comes with a loaded risk. According to the same Google research, 49% of Gen Z say their online image is at stake, emphasizing the importance of having control over all aspects of their life at all times.1

Studies have shown positive physiological effects on participants actively participating in “Dry January.” Research has also concluded improvements in concentration and sleep patterns, as well as reduced cholesterol, lower glucose levels, lower blood pressure, and overall weight loss.2

Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol

The non-alcoholic spirits industry has picked up steam in recent years and is rapidly growing due to the sober curious movement. In 2022, no- and low-alcohol beverage sales grew by more than 7%, surpassing $11 billion in market value. This industry is creating accessibility to a wide variety of non-alcoholic beers, wine, and functional mocktails with added health benefits for a new generation that is health focused. 

For a refreshing, non-alcoholic choice, try this Strawberry Pineapple Refresher recipe. The recipe is delicious and refreshing, yet it also is gut-healing. The gut-healing ingredient is Leaky Gut Revive® Strawberry Lemonade. This physician-formulated elixir is an excellent source of L-Glutamine to nourish gut cells and a natural blend of other nutrients specifically designed to soothe and repair your gut.

Studies: Drinking Alcohol Has No Health Benefits

Researchers reviewed four decades of studies conducted on alcohol and found those studies were flawed. This revelation concluded that alcohol provides no health benefits, and new guidelines for consumption are now getting published. 

The report analyzed over 100 studies of almost five million adults indicating that these studies were observational. This means links were identified but considered misleading because they did not prove cause and effect. Furthermore, they failed to recognize that moderate drinkers adopted healthy habits and lifestyles versus the comparison group who abstained from drinking due to developing adverse effects of alcohol. 

In 1924, Raymond Pearl, a John Hopkins biologist, published a J-shaped graph showing that moderate drinkers had the lowest mortality rates. This is where the idea originated around moderate alcohol consumption being beneficial to your health. 

The new report concludes that even moderate drinking, including red wine, may contribute to the onset of cancers, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation– a severe heart arrhythmia.3

These findings also indicate a significant increase in premature aging and death when drinking 25 grams of alcohol daily. This equates to less than two cocktails, two 12-ounce beers, or two five-ounce glasses of wine daily. Yet, we now know a glass of red wine doesn’t have the benefits it was once thought to have. 

Red Wine was Thought to Have Health Benefits

You’ve heard the adage, “A glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away.” Contrary to what you may have been told by generations past, seen in the media, or even heard from your doctor, alcohol does not benefit your cardiovascular system or overall health. 

For decades, a daily glass of red wine was considered heart-healthy because of its antioxidant properties. It contains resveratrol, a type of natural polyphenol found in the skin of grapes, berries, and peanuts. Red wine has higher levels of resveratrol because it is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine. 

This polyphenol provides various health benefits because it is a free radical scavenger and facilitates a healthy inflammatory response. This supports heart disease and healthy cholesterol levels.

Wine, Candida Overgrowth & SIBO

While resveratrol is naturally found in red wine and is linked to health benefits, it’s important to note that wine could exacerbate Candida Overgrowth symptoms or Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). 

Alcohol has long been a contributor to developing SIBO.4 Wine is created through fermentation, which converts the sugars in grapes into alcohol. This results in high sugar, which candida, a fungus naturally found in the body, feeds on—overgrowth results in fatigue, joint pain, and digestive symptoms.5

Alcohol and Your Gut

Research shows that alcohol has been linked to low mortality rates, premature aging, and other detrimental health concerns such as cancers and diseases. However, perhaps the more crucial impact is on our vital organs and immune system. 

Once alcohol hits your gut, 20% goes right into your bloodstream. The remaining 80% is absorbed based on the amount you drink, whether it’s carbonated or if you have any food on your stomach. Your body typically processes one drink per hour. 

Your liver is responsible for 90% of the metabolism of alcohol into carbon dioxide and water. The remaining gets removed through sweating, urination, and breathing.

Alcohol is a Toxin

Alcohol is a toxin.6 The longer alcohol stays in your body, the more it wreaks havoc on your immune system and gut health. Toxins damage cells in your body, leading your immune system to fail to recognize its cells, instead attacking them as foreign invaders.

Your body’s largest microbiome is in your gut, where 80% of your immune system lives. Dysbiosis occurs when disease or environmental factors disrupt this delicate balance of good bacteria. This leads to an overgrowth of bacteria. Studies show that alcohol increases harmful gut bacteria, causing an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your microbiome.

Alcohol and Leaky Gut

Your gut is naturally semi-permeable, allowing micronutrients to pass through your gut wall and into your bloodstream. Stress, inflammatory foods, infections, and toxins can cause these tight junctions to loosen and open up, allowing larger particles into your bloodstream. This is known as a leaky gut. Your immune system then identifies these substances as foreign invaders and attacks them. 

Symptoms of leaky gut include:

  • Food intolerances
  • Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
  • Mood imbalances such as depression and anxiety
  • Seasonal allergies or asthma
  • Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
  • Hormonal imbalances

Alcohol Feeds Candida and SIBO

Candida is a naturally occurring yeast species within your body. It is part of your normal gut microflora, usually maintained at a desired level by good bacteria. All yeasts, including candida, need sugar to thrive. When you consume alcohol or any other fermented foods, this feeds candida, causing overgrowth due to the high sugar content. Once in the bloodstream, candida can multiply and spread throughout the body, leading to a slew of symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, and digestive discomfort.

SIBO occurs when too many gut bacteria are in the wrong place in the digestive tract. If too many bacteria are present in the small intestine, this leads to inflammation compromising the absorption of vitamins and nutrients. 

The most common symptom of SIBO is bloating which happens when the bacteria digests the sugars consumed and produces gas. Food sources such as alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners can compromise healing by fueling bacterial overgrowth. 

Repair Your Gut With Gut ImmunIG™

Your gut is the gateway to health, after all, nearly 80% of your immune system resides there. Now that you understand the negative impact alcohol can have on your gut health, taking the necessary steps to repair damage and resolve the imbalances in gut bacteria is imperative.

The 4R approach is a proven method for healing your gut. 

  1. Remove the bad – Get rid of triggers that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract, such as inflammatory and toxic foods and intestinal infections, such as candida overgrowth and SIBO.  
  2. Restore what’s missing — Adding digestive enzymes and HCL to your daily regimen will help support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
  3. Reinoculate with healthy bacteria — Restore a healthy balance of good bacteria through probiotics. 
  4. Repair the gut — Provide nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself.

I formulated Gut ImmunIG™ for optimal gut support. This extra-strength, physician-formulated blend of nutrients is designed to soothe and repair your gut effectively. Gut ImmunIG™ works to bind to the toxins consumed by alcohol that wreak havoc on your gut microbiome so that your body can retain essential nutrients.

Furthermore, it creates a hospitable environment to reinoculate beneficial bacteria. Combined with Leaky Gut Revive®, Gut ImmunIG™ facilitates a stronger gut lining to achieve optimal gut barrier function. 

Featuring 2,500 mg of ImmunoLin®, Gut ImmunIG™ contains the highest concentration of naturally sourced and dairy-free immunoglobulins worldwide. Immunoglobulins play a critical role in your immune system by binding to particular antigens in your gut, such as viruses and bacteria, and removing them from your body. 

The Benefits of Red Wine Without the Alcohol

Imagine experiencing the heart health benefits of red wine without a hangover the next day. Resveratrol has the same impact as drinking hundreds of glasses of red wine without the adverse side effects or long-term risks of consuming alcohol. However, it is not impossible to absorb the recommended doses of resveratrol through dietary consumption alone.

Resveratrol is a potent free radical scavenger that assists the immune system. It’s a great alternative to a glass of red wine because it is neither fermented nor contains sugar, alcohol, or sulfites. This makes resveratrol a solid nutrient for an elimination diet such as the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet

Polyphenols like resveratrol protect the body from free radical cellular damage. This polyphenol balances the inflammatory response. Many studies indicate that resveratrol could help prevent cancer by inhibiting the cells from growing and causing them to die off. Lastly, research concludes that resveratrol plays an essential role in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease by reducing the damage caused by free radicals.7

The average red wine only contains 1.7 mg of resveratrol. When exploring the sober curious movement, you can supplement with resveratrol in doses ranging from 50 mg to 1 gram daily. Our Resveratrol formula contains 25 mg per tablet with a recommended dosage of 2 per day. 

The Final Word Being Sober Curious

A cocktail here and there isn’t the end of the world. However, with new research proving there are no health benefits to alcohol, I expect the sober curious movement to pick up steam. You can still get the heart health benefits from Resveratrol without a glass of wine. You can also still have a social life without alcohol. If you’re considering a sober curious lifestyle for better health, try it and keep track of any changes you notice.

Article Sources

  1. New market, new rules: How Gen Z’s are changing the alcohol industry. Johanna Gerhold . Future of Marketing. 2019.
  2. What is Dry January?. Jackie Ballard. British Journal of General Practice. 2016.
  3. Moderate Drinking Has No Health Benefits, Analysis of Decades of Research Finds. Roni Caryn Rabin. New York Times. 2023.
  4. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, study finds. American College of Gastroenterology. 2011.
  5. Red Wine Candida Diet. Lawrence Adams. Livestrong. 2021.
  6. Alcohol. World Health Organization. 2023.
  7. Health Benefits of Resveratrol. WebMD. 2022.