If you’re making self-care a priority this New Year, it’s likely that problem drinking, and its stressful effects on your body and mind, might have caused you to give it up altogether. If you’re keen to know what you’re putting into your body, though, you might want to look at the labels on your alcohol-free drinks. Most low and no alcohol drinks are already low in sugar and calories. But there is a range of non-alcoholic, healthy drinks that also boost your mood, lower stress, keep your immune system healthy, and help you get the relaxed feeling of having a drink after a long day…without the hangover.
These herbal drinks, full of stress-resistant, system-boosting, healthful ingredients, are the next big thing in low and no alcohol drinks. They’re not new, though – we’ve been adding active plants and herbs to our food and drink for hundreds of years. So what makes these alcohol-free healthy drinks so special?
Brimming with good stuff
What we’re talking about here are plant-based herbal drinks that help you feel better while sticking to your drinking goals and enjoying a pretty gorgeous drink. It’s guilt-free hedonism if you will. These deliciously healthy drinks usually fall into three categories:
Also known as phytomedicines, botanicals are added to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to enhance the drinking experience. Botanicals are prized for their functional health benefits as the sustainable ingredients are usually derived from seeds and roots, all of which have therapeutic properties and act as mild relaxants.
Adaptogens have been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian holistic medicine for thousands of years. After years of study, we know that these plant-based substances are known to help to balance hormones and increase our resistance to stress. They increase the efficacy of the immune system and, in some cases, can help symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Natural nootropics found in low and no alcohol healthy drinks enhance cognition and memory. Basically, this category of ingredient is full of brain-boosting superfoods such as green tea, mushrooms, and ginseng. Nootropics can help to supercharge your energy, motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity.
Why these healthy drinks will turn you off alcohol
Sure, botanicals are often added to gin to enhance the flavour and experience of the drink, but much like trying to get rid of a red wine stain with white wine, you end up with two contrasting occurrences.
To get scientific about it, alcohol disrupts the effect of GABA in the brain. GABA receptors release dopamine, our warm and fuzzy feel-good hormone, and alcohol mimics this feeling and inhibits our normal production of dopamine. This means that, over time, we stop producing our own natural doses of dopamine correctly, and we rely more and more on alcohol to create this ‘fake happy’. This is often when drinking goes from habitual to problematic.
So we give up the alcohol. But it can take some time for our GABA and dopamine levels to even out again. Enter our healthy drinks. These herbal masterpieces of alchemy can target happy hormones such as serotonin gently. The result is less stress, no dependency, a body full of healthy, immunity-promoting ingredients, and an uplifted mind that’s focused on those important drinking goals.
Will these healthy drinks taste as good as other non-alcoholic options?
Unlike celery juice or matcha tea, not everything that’s good for you tastes like wet grass (sorry to matcha fans). These healthy drinks are delicious! Low and no alcohol brands have really gone to town in making these balanced beverages in every pleasurably potable form. If you fancy trying some of these delicious healthy drinks for yourselves, here are six recommendations that are available to buy in the UK now.
This great beer alternative is more than ‘just’ alcohol-free. Impossibrew claims to be the world’s first mood-enhancing beer. The clean, refreshing lager and rich, caramel-tinged ale are both full of nootropic herb blends. These unique beverages contain serotonin-boosting 5HTP, L-Theanine, green tea and ginseng. The smart vitamins and minerals help with natural relaxation without causing drowsiness. The perfect post-work beer.
This adaptogenic beer uses functional mushrooms to help you have a relaxing drink with plenty of desirable side effects. No, your beer won’t taste like mushrooms, and no, they’re not the magic kind, either! Functional mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for millennia. They aid our bodies’ natural ability to restore, recover, and repair natural balance.
This fun, flavourful kombucha is made from sparkling fermented tea and is bursting with tasty, healthful botanicals. Mighty Brew is a fantastic sparkling wine alternative with the added bonus of being packed with live cultures and natural goodness to aid good gut health. This elegant drink fills your mouth with bubbles, your body with minerals and enzymes, and your head with happy hormones. It’s even low sugar, organic, and vegan certified. Cheers to that!
Designed by plant scientists and self-proclaimed alchemists Dash, Tati, and Meeta, Three Spirit offer three unique, distinct liquor alternatives that are a worthy contribution to our healthy drinks list. Each of the company’s three offerings is designed to get the evening rolling, enhance the party mood, or wind down post-occasion. For this reason, each drink has carefully selected botanical additions, each crafted to guide you through your evening. Being clever with plants also tastes and feels great!
While we’re re-discovering ancient botanicals, we cannot overlook cannabis. This delicately flavoured gin alternative, with undertones of orange blossom, juniper, and sage, is completely natural and non-psychotropic. This means that you get all the healthy, relaxing benefits from the cannabis plant without getting high or out of control. This is the ultimate botanical spirit swap for the alcohol-free mindful drinker.
This is the UK’s first natural enzyme cordial which, similarly to kombucha, is made up of 35 fermented fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and cultures. This superdrink is undeniably tasty and can be added to tonic or mocktails for an extra splash of health powerup. The beneficial bacteria and complex enzymes support the immune system, keep your guts ticking over nicely, and balance the digestive system, all while tasting pretty great.
For more low and no alcohol drink alternatives, follow our drinks articles or sign up to receive our monthly subscription boxes. They come with recipe cards and online drinks tastings so that you can learn how to make the most of your alcohol-free faves.
During January, you can try and buy all of the drinks listed above at Club Soda’s Alcohol-Free Off-License in London. And if you are not in London, Wise Bartender has a good range of alcohol-free drinks you can get delivered to your home. And we have listed online drink shops around the world too.