Brace Yourselves, This Post Is About Booze
Physiologically, we’re nearly identical to humans of 20,000-10,000 years ago. Today, though, we’re changing more than ever, as it’s likely that we’re in the midst of a radical civilization-generated genetic revolution. Urban environments with never-before seen pressures for adaptation and a world polluted by synthetic compounds drive our DNA to mutate more than ever before. These environmental changes are occurring at a rate, faster than which, our DNA can keep up. For example, the modern shift to a processed food-based diet has clearly contributed to an epidemic of metabolic disorders and modern disease, simply because we haven’t had enough time to evolve a gut that can handle it. For the vast majority of us, herbage and critters are a far healthier source of nutrition.
There’s one more family of processed fare which has long been both maligned and exalted (sometimes in the same breath). The first beer and spirits were made from grain, so should we be concerned that eating healthy, like a caveman, might not include beer pong and keg stands? Did our Paleolithic kin-folk get hooched up on the weekends and ashamedly wake up in the loving, hairy arms of a thick-browed Neander-damsel?
Until about 10,000 years ago, humans would only have come across extremely small amounts of alcohol in rotting fruit. They, like some wild animals, today, were able to feel its intoxicating effects, but only very rarely. Believe me, it takes several decaying, fermented plums to catch a good buzz. In due course, some smarty-pants mixed a container of grain with water and let it sit. The grain’s enzymes converted starches into sugars and airborne yeasts turned the sugars into alcohol. The resulting brewski was very low in alcohol (approximately 3%) but loaded with nutrition and calories. It’s presumed that early cities could not have been built had workers not had access to this hydrating, nutritious brew. Even more astounding is that researchers have found large doses of tetracycline embedded in the bones of ancient African mummies. This antibiotic drug wasn’t known to science until its “development,” in 1949! But…but…but…HOW?
It appears that the grains used to make the beer were contaminated with a strep bacteria which produces tetracycline antibiotics to kill off other, competing bacteria! HOW SICK IS THAT!
The desire for and importance of early versions of beer persuaded people to plant vast fields of grain. This is one factor that paved the way for the birth of agriculture. As the first simple breads made their debut around the same time, we, for the first time ever, had enough food to shift away from nomadic life. By developing agriculture and civilization, we ushered in the Neolithic era.
These days, beer and spirits play a no less substantial role in our cultural celebrations, social affairs, and relaxation. When compared to teetotalers, there are even a handful of health benefits which are correlated to low-level drinking. Generally speaking, enjoying 1-2 drinks per day has been linked to improved blood cholesterol ratio, less weight gain, reduced risk of diabetes, improved resistance to dementia, and reduced gallstone formation. Researchers are still putting together the pieces of how this all works, and many links between alcohol and health improvement are sketchy. Some of the benefit likely comes from alcohol’s sedative effect, whereby, it becomes a potent reliever of stress (a major component in the development of virtually every modern disease). All seemingly beneficial effects are reversed, to an alarming degree, once alcohol use increases beyond a drink or two per day.
Severe detrimental effects are seen in chronic alcohol abusers, and long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of causing damage to every type of tissue and system in the body.
It’s important to understand that, in science, correlation does not imply causation. As in the sedation/stress-reduction model, there may be other factors that explain how alcohol has been linked to health benefits. In fact, cancer specialists vehemently disagree that any dose of alcohol can be of benefit. Additionally, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London agrees that alcohol is toxic in any amount and should not be used.
From a societal standpoint, alcohol is immensely damaging. According to a chart from The Lancet, alcohol is the most damaging drug, in terms of harming others. Prevalence of assaults and accidents is statistically linked to alcohol use.
The loss of control over our mind and intellect is also of concern to those of us who seek to live a healthy and clear spiritual existence. Negative thought patterns, resulting from alcohol’s depressive effect, infiltrate our consciousness. Even a single drink is enough to sway some of us away from our path toward light, and into a subtle romance with a dark state. A regular relationship with alcohol may also divert attention, concern and closeness from relationships with loved ones. The very name, “spirits,” is a reminder of that alcohol is a counterfeit version of our innermost, essential part. Where my opinion counts, I advise people to be extremely wary of using alcohol, no matter how steeped in family or cultural tradition, and no matter how fully aware they may be of their relationship with the drug. Alcohol is a processed chemical, not prevalent in the natural world, and it is acutely toxic to humans. Because it has been used for the past 10,000 years, does not mean it hasn’t worn out its usefulness. Because it was not used prior to 10,000 years ago, it is a toxin to our bodies. Because you’ve read my whole article, I humbly suggest that you earnestly inspect your relationship with alcohol, as I continue to do with mine.