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Liquors That Are Gluten-Free (& Beneficial In Other Ways)

Yay! Some alcoholic drinks are as good for you as they are to you.

Food & Drink

Something that is so dope about you, our readers, is that you're all so different. So many different perspectives, insights and opinions regularly hop onto our platform to help spice things up. We dig that. We really do. We also like the moments when everyone is on the same page; like when it comes to red wine. Chile, if there's one thing that at least 95.6 percent of you seem to have in your possession, it's a bottle of that.

As I was thinking about how I could finesse that reality into a "drink and be merry" piece for the holiday season, I happened upon a few articles that discussed the benefits of consuming alcoholic drinks that are gluten-free. Gluten-free alcohol? I never really thought about that before. And of course, being the inquisitive researcher that I am, the notion sent me down the rabbit hole of looking for other health benefits that come from having a drink or two—or few.

If stopping by your local liquor store is most definitely on your to-do list during the last leg of the holiday season, here are some of the alcoholic drinks that will do more than keep you toasty and get you tipsy. These picks are actually pretty damn good for you, too. But first, let's address a few health-related questions you might have had about alcohol but never got around to getting answers to.

What Kind of Alcohol Is Gluten-Free?

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Let's start with this: "Gluten-free" is a popular term in the health-food community. If you've ever wondered exactly what gluten is, it's basically the two proteins—prolamins and glutelins—that give cereal grains (especially wheat) its elastic texture. Consuming it is definitely a no-no for people who have celiac disease, however, if you've been eating things such as cereal grains, soy sauce, chicken broth, condiments, or those veggie burgers that everyone's been raving about, and you immediately feel icky afterwards, you should probably take an allergy test. You may be allergic to gluten.

And what about liquors that contain gluten? Beer is a big one, however, if you decide to look for the kind of alcoholic drinks that are made from pure distilled liquor, you should be all good. (Yes, even when it comes to beer.) Alcoholic drinks that are gluten-free after distillation include whiskey, tequila, bourbon, gin, vodka, scotch, and brandy.

What Are the Health “Pros” of Consuming Alcohol?

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When it comes to consuming alcohol, I'm pretty sure you already know that moderation is key. If you're careful about how much you toss back, having a drink can actually prove to be pretty beneficial on the health tip. Beer is rich in B vitamins, and both beer and wine can lower your risk of getting kidney stones. Hard apple cider is packed with antioxidants. Moderate consumption of alcohol overall can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, even diabetes.

The key is to have no more than a couple of glasses of your favorite drink a week (unless it's red wine; you can have a glass of that daily) and to try and drink the higher quality stuff as often as possible. If you stick to those two rules (and don't drive right after consuming alcohol, of course), you should be able to enjoy your favorite liquor without any worry or guilt.

What Are the Health “Cons” of Consuming Alcohol?

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Almost anything in life that has its pros also has its cons. As far as the downside of alcohol goes, a read that you might want to check out is "Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You Drink Alcohol". It mentions effects from a spike in dopamine levels and potential memory loss to insomnia and brain-cell deterioration. As for us women, we've got to be even more cautious because our bodies do not naturally produce what is known as the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, an enzyme that helps to break down alcohol when it hits our stomach and liver.

Knowing all of this won't stop me from consuming alcohol from time to time. What it will do is prevent a sista from becoming a lush. Again, alcohol isn't the devil by any stretch, but it can become your worst enemy if you're not responsible with your drinking.

So, Just What Are the Healthiest Alcoholic Drinks?

Red Wine

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Red wine is good for you on so many different levels. It's got a ton of antioxidants to keep your immune system in good condition, silicon to help increase bone density, and properties to keep cancer cells at bay. The resveratrol that's in red wine also triggers an anti-aging protein in your system that can help to keep you looking younger for longer while also increasing your longevity in the process. Some other wonderful benefits when it comes to red wine consumption is it reduces stress, helps ward off depression, and can remove bacteria-causing tooth decay. It's also been shown to be a libido booster in women, which is always a big benefit.

Vodka

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The fermented grains in vodka actually make it a disinfectant and antitoxin drink that is as great on your body as it is inside of it. For example, if you dab a cotton ball into vodka and put it on your pimples, it can kill the bacteria and reduce inflammation. If you use it as a hair rinse on your shampoo days, it can fight the bacteria that causes dandruff and even promote hair growth. You can also rub a little vodka on your chest to reduce a fever fairly quickly. Internally, vodka contains no sugar and can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels too.

Bloody Mary

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A Bloody Mary is most definitely an acquired taste. I mean, just think about what's in it—tomato juice, tabasco sauce, pepper, vodka, salt, and lemon juice. Still, if a crunk V-8 is your thing, the antioxidants in tomato juice (as well as the lemon juice that's in a Bloody Mary) can fight off free radicals, the fiber can keep you regular, and the vitamins C and E, lycopene and beta-carotene can keep your heart healthy. For detoxification of your system, it has chlorine and sulfur and the Vitamin K that's in it can keep your bones nice and strong.

Rum

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Rum is what's left after distilled sugarcane molasses or juice ferments. The liquid ages in oak barrels and there you have it—rum! As far as health benefits, if you consume around 1 ½ oz, rum can help reduce anxiety, relieve muscle aches and pain, boost your immune system, make arthritis less uncomfortable and, some studies even say, can reduce your chances of having a heart attack (due to it being a blood thinner) or being diagnosed with dementia.

Whiskey

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If your grandma is constantly trying to get you to drink a hot toddy when you're sick, it's not an old wives' tale. The reason why it's so effective is, in part, due to the whiskey that's in it. Whiskey serves as a decongestant because alcohol is able to dilate your blood vessels so that your mucus membranes can help to heal your infection. That's not all that whiskey is able to do. It's the kind of drink that can help to regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce stress and, because it's a low-calorie drink, a moderate amount of whiskey consumption won't cause you to pack on the pounds either.

Tequila

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If you're gonna do a few tequila (which is made from blue agave) shots, it's best to stick to no more than 1-2 shots at a time. If you do, it can increase your metabolism and even help you to get a sounder night's sleep. Two other awesome benefits of tequila are it's a prebiotic (which means that it supports healthy gut bacteria) and, if you drink the high-end kind, it's highly unlikely that you'll wake up with a hangover. Pretty cool, huh?

Champagne

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If you're looking for an alcoholic drink that is proven to be a real libido booster, a tall glass of champagne is exactly what you're looking for. A real plus that comes with champagne is it can increase blood circulation to your nether regions without zapping your energy levels in the process.

Some other good things about champagne is, like red wine, it's got antioxidants in it that are good for your heart; it contains proteins that can help to keep your short-term memory sharp and, the magnesium, potassium and zinc that it contains can keep you feeling really happy and upbeat.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a bottle on your way home; it should make for a really good time (especially if you're not alone) over the holiday season. #drinkup

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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