Non-alcoholic beer is quickly gaining traction today. But what is it and is it really safer to drink than alcohol? Today, there are a number of different brand-name and craft non-alcoholic beers to choose from, creating more options for anyone who drinks alcohol. Studies, however, have shown that this might not be the best option for some people, like alcoholics who are in recovery.
Does Non-Alcoholic Beer Contain Alcohol?
Non-alcoholic beer, also sometimes known as near beer is a misleading term. According to labeling regulations, non-alcoholic beer is not required to be alcohol-free and can contain some alcohol. Standard beer varies considerably in alcohol content. The average real beer contains around 5% alcohol per beer. Low-alcohol beer can contain between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol, and non-alcoholic beer can actually contain up to 0.5 percent alcohol.
There are very few, if any, non-alcoholic beers that are actually free of alcohol. In fact, some studies have shown that non-alcoholic beers may actually have more alcohol than what’s listed on the label. Even if it does claim to be .5% alcohol, there may actually be quite a bit more alcohol in the non-alcoholic beer. Most will contain a small amount, which means they’re not a good option for those who need to abstain from alcohol completely.
Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Safe for Pregnancy?
Studies have shown that alcohol can have serious impacts on the growing baby. The exact amount of alcohol that is dangerous to a fetus is unknown. What is known is that either frequent drinking of alcohol, or a single binge, can damage a growing baby. The truth is that there is no known amount of alcohol that is safe or not. A “safe” threshold has never been determined. Most women will, therefore, abstain from alcohol completely when they find out they’re pregnant.
However, with non-alcoholic beer, a lot of women may wonder if this is a safer option that enables them to enjoy a beer occasionally while they’re pregnant without the worry that a typical beer might cause. Since non-alcoholic beers can contain some alcohol, and sometimes more than is stated on the label, it’s best for anyone who is pregnant to avoid drinking non-alcoholic beer as well as regular beer.
There is no known safe amount of alcohol, so those who want to stick with the rules will want to make sure they don’t drink anything that could contain alcohol. A pregnant woman who is worried about not being able to drink should let their obstetrician know as soon as possible.
Can I drink NA beer after I give birth?
As much as you may really want a beer now that your pregnancy is over, the answer is still “probably not.” After the baby is born, it’s still not a good idea to drink any beer if the woman is breastfeeding. The amount of alcohol that is found in the bloodstream after drinking is the same amount that will be found in the breast milk. Long-term effects of this are still unknown, but even non-alcoholic beers can contain some alcohol and thus should be avoided while the mother is breastfeeding.
Are there Risks of Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer?
There are risks associated with drinking alcohol, but are they lowered with a reduced alcohol intake? In some cases, they can be. Some studies have shown that non-alcoholic beer can help reduce the amount of time it takes for someone to fall asleep or help with anxiety.
Non-alcoholic beer, nevertheless, can still contribute to liver damage. It’s still not a safe option for those who are worried about liver-related medical conditions or who already suffering from medical issues with their liver. It is also dangerous to those suffering from pancreatitis.
Since most alcohol is processed through the liver, even the small amount of alcohol in non-alcoholic beers can cause further damage for those who are already suffering from issues with their liver. This includes cirrhosis of the liver and a condition known as a fatty liver. Those who already have either of these conditions, other liver conditions, or who are at risk of developing these conditions will want to refrain from all alcohol, which includes non-alcoholic beers.
Is Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer Safe for Alcoholics?
Once in a rare while, someone will tout non-alcoholic beer as an excellent alternative for recovering alcoholics, but this really is not the case. The claim is that the person can still enjoy a beer now and again, without worrying about actually drinking a lot of alcohol. They won’t be able to get drunk, will not be at risk of driving drunk, and will significantly reduce the amount of alcohol they drink, which could help prevent medical issues they might be at risk for.
The problem with this claim is that even non-alcoholic beer can trigger cravings, resulting in a relapse for many alcoholics. Triggers can occur because of the smell of the beer, the act of opening a bottle or a can, the taste of the beer, or just the idea that they’re able to have a beer. These feelings remind them of when they used to drink and, without realizing it, they can easily switch back to drinking a standard beer and relapsing into their alcoholism.
People in recovery
Sobriety is difficult and many people have already lived for years trying to bend as many rules as possible so they can continue to drink or use drugs. If they have a non-alcoholic beer, it’s just one more rule they’ve bent to be able to continue abusing alcohol. Though they might not be at risk for driving under the influence, they’re not going to get drunk from the non-alcoholic beer, and they are significantly decreasing the amount of alcohol they’re drinking, the fact is, they’re still drinking alcohol. This can absolutely trigger a relapse into alcoholism or drug addiction.
Another issue is that the amount of alcohol in the non-alcoholic beer might actually be more than they expect. This means they might end up drinking more than they thought they would. Even one or two drinks at night, while it won’t cause them to be drunk, can be trigger cravings and a subsequent relapse. Those who want to make sure they recover from their addiction will want to make sure they avoid any alcohol at all. This means they’ll want to stay away from non-alcoholic beers.
Though non-alcoholic beers are quickly becoming more popular, they’re not the best option for everyone. In fact, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, dealing with liver ailments, or who are recovering from a substance abuse addiction should avoid non-alcoholic beers just like they avoid standard beers. These beers, though they’re called non-alcoholic, do contain some alcohol, which means they’re not an option for anyone who wants or needs to completely stop drinking alcoholic beverages.
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