In the UK, we are no stranger to an alcoholic drink, with an estimated 48% of adults drinking alcohol at least once a week. Although low or moderate alcohol intake is not associated with all-cause mortality risk, worrying statistics suggest that there are 1.7 million who drink at higher risk and around 600,000 who are dependent on alcohol which could risk their long-term health. Indeed, alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including cancer, high blood pressure and depression.
The short-term effects aren’t pleasant either, with the common symptoms of a hangover including a headache, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, and sensitivity to light and sound. And it isn’t just physical — one study found that a significant minority of individuals report experiencing symptoms of depression (29.9%) and anxiety (18.3%) during the hangover state, otherwise known as “hangxiety” (hangover anxiety).
Whether you’re looking to minimise the health risks of alcohol, find a healthier way to cope with physical and emotional stress, or just want to wave goodbye to those dreaded hangovers, the good news is that there are lots of healthy alternatives to alcohol out there that can can give you the same buzz, without the intoxicating effects that alcohol has.
Without further ado then, let’s raise a glass to the top natural alternatives to alcohol.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can give you a buzz without the need for alcohol. In fact, CBD mimics lots of the “positive” effects of alcohol, such as taking the edge off a social situation or relieving pain, without the negative after effects. Indeed, studies show that CBD can function as an antidepressant, reduce feelings of stress, relieve pain, protect your gut health, and tackle inflammation, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed it does not induce major side effects, does not get you high, and is not associated with abuse potential. Furthermore, as CBD is a non-intoxicating substance, it shouldn’t impair your ability to function or make good decisions, unlike alcohol.
You can take CBD oil or edibles before an event, or add the oil to a soft drink or mocktail of your choice. Alternatively, there are several CBD drinks available on the market that can mimic the drinking sensation. Learn more about using CBD instead of alcohol here.
Kombucha is a fermented tea with a distinct taste that makes a great alcohol-free beverage.* As well as mimicking the sophisticated taste of alcohol, there is some evidence to suggest that kombucha has benefits for our health. For example, it is thought that the probiotics it contains helps to maintain a healthy population of microorganisms in the gut, which can restore the natural balance of gut bacteria and improve some mental health conditions. Other research in rats has found that drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity caused by toxic chemicals, and that kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties.
* Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol as it is fermented (less than 0.5% to be considered non-alcoholic).
3. Ginger Ale
Ginger ale is another crowd favourite for those looking for a non-alcoholic substitute for champagne or beer. Although few studies have been conducted on the benefits of the drinks, we know lots about its roots (literally)! Ginger root is a natural source of antioxidants, and might help to reduce inflammation and protect against long-term cellular damage. In addition to this, ginger can help relieve an upset stomach and nausea — the opposite of alcohol which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
You can mix ginger ale with other ingredients to create a mocktail, such as a ginger mojito which uses all of the flavours you know and love, without the rum.
If you prefer a stronger taste and more fizz, you might prefer a ginger beer which, despite what its name suggests, doesn’t traditionally contain alcohol.
4. Flavoured Sparkling Water
If you enjoy the sensation of sipping on a carbonated drink, flavoured sparkling water is another great alternative to fizzy alcoholic drinks. From simple fruit flavours to unique combinations like peppermint and watermelon, sparkling water is available in a range of delicious flavours that mimic the taste (and sensation) of a spirit + carbonated drink combination.
They can be enjoyed straight from the bottle, or used as a base for mocktails by adding fresh fruits, herbs, or a splash of juice.
Mocktails are one of the best alternatives to alcohol if you’re drinking in a bar. Get a “virgin” version of your favourite classic made with an alcohol-free alternative, such as a non-alcoholic espresso martini made with non-alcoholic white rum.
Mocktails are hydrating, non-addictive, inexpensive and nutritious, so you can enjoy a flavoursome beverage, while remaining sober.
6. Non-Alcoholic Beers, Wines & Spirits
Last but not least, non-alcoholic versions of your favourite beers, wines and spirits are more readily available than ever. From 0% versions of reliable classics, such as Peroni and Koppaberg, to brands like Drop Bear Beers dedicated to creating delicious alcohol-free craft beers, you won’t be short of options.
There are also brands like Three Spirit which blend adaptogens, nootropics, herbs, distillates and ferments (active ingredients designed to make you feel good), to boost your mood and give you that sought after buzz and mouthfeel of wines and spirits, without the hangover.
Benefits of Alcohol Alternatives
To recap, here’s a look at the key benefits of alcohol alternatives.
- Reduced risk of health issues: Reduce the risk of developing alcohol-related health issues, such as high blood pressure or cancer.
- No hangovers: Alcohol-free beverages mean no unwanted hangovers.
- No regrets: Alcohol can make you lose your inhibitions, leading to poor decision-making.
- Better sleep: Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns, whereas non-alcoholic drinks often promote better sleep.
- Weight management: Alcohol alternatives are often lower in calories, making it easier to manage your weight.
Whatever your reason for going sober, the benefits are clear; your mental and physical health will thank you for laying off the booze and switching to an alcohol-free alternative.
At Purity Hemp, the UK’s #1 Online CBD Shop, we sell a range of science-backed CBD products designed to improve the health and wellness of all our customers, including those who want to go sober — whether they are just looking to cut back to improve their physical and mental health, or those going teetotal to battle addiction.