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Drinking takes a toll on you. That doesn’t mean that wine, craft beers, or a martini can’t be part of your life, but there may be reasons to cut back.

Current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women keep their alcoholic beverages to no more than one per day, and for men, two. Substituting nonalcoholic beverages (such as Semblance) for wine or cocktails carries physical and mental health benefits you’ll want to consider. 

Alcohol and anxiety can go hand in hand. Drinking can change levels of serotonin and neurotransmitters, which can worsen anxiety. Using alcohol to cope with anxiety or depression can be dangerous because drinking actually worsens both conditions. According to studies, coping with anxiety by drinking can cause more anxiety in the long run, making sufferers more likely to drink in response.  

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Drinking to excess can lead to the production of more free radicals, which oxidizes bad (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidized LDL cholesterol can result in carotid artery blockages. This is why the American Heart Association has published studies that show that drinking makes cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes more likely. Occasional drinking doesn’t have this effect, meaning that drinking a zero-alcohol wine like Semblance can lessen your risk of heart damage from drinking.  

Drinking to excess – now defined as more than one drink a day for women, or two a day for men – leaves fatty deposits on the liver. When you reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, those liver changes are reversed. Studies show that alcohol is the leading cause of cirrhosis of the liver, which is the 12th most likely cause of death in the U.S. 

If your liver isn’t busy processing alcohol, it can focus on breaking down other toxins in the body and metabolizing fats and excess hormones. A 2014 study published in the journal Nature found alcohol to increase the risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, colorectum, liver, larynx, and, in women, breast. Alcohol increases cancer risk to the point of being listed as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

A study from 2009 published in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that about 3.5 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. are related to alcohol use. Of those, drinking as little as a drink and a half a day accounted for as much as 35 percent of those alcohol-related deaths. The National Toxicology Program’s report notes that alcohol’s cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol they drink over the years, so cutting back on drinks with a nonalcoholic wine like Semblance can reduce your risk of developing cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. For those who struggle to lose weight even though they enjoy a healthy diet and exercise, cutting back or eliminating alcohol may result in losing a few pounds.  

The calories in alcohol can add up. A light beer packs about 100 calories, and a glass of wine is about 150 calories. Cocktails can range from a low of a gin and tonic, around 150 calories, to a sugary piña colada at more than 600 calories. And that’s just for one drink. Multiple rounds equal more calories.

Maintaining a healthy weight adds years to your life and life to your years. The good news is that you don’t have to stop drinking to improve your health. Cutting back will bring you multiple health benefits. Back away from the bar by adding a glass of water after a beverage. That hydration may make wanting a second drink less likely. Bars and restaurants are paying attention to the benefits of being alcohol-free, offering nonalcoholic drinks beyond the usual Shirley Temple. 

Semblance is a healthy option. Made from Chardonnay grapes, Semblance is delicious chilled. Enjoy it as is or make it a healthy mimosa by adding organic fruit juice. Semblance can also make a French 75 or an Aperol spritz far less boozy. You may find that nonalcoholic beverages like Semblance may replace all the alcohol at your happy hours and cocktail parties. Raise a glass to the benefits of being alcohol-free.

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