If you’ve walked the beverage aisles of a grocery store in the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed six-packs from N/A beer brands like Athletic Brewing Company invading the shelves next to their “leaded” counterparts from Anheuser Busch and myriad craft breweries. Or maybe a few of your friends have raved about a new mocktail or alcohol-free elixir they’ve recently discovered. Regardless of the how, you’ve probably become more aware of N/A options from a multitude of sources, and as they become more mainstream, the question becomes how will they impact health and wellness trends overall.
First, it’s estimated that upwards of 75-80% of the non-alcoholic beverage market are consumers who still drink alcohol, just maybe less than they did before. While some portion of the market is comprised of those who may not be able to drink due to a pregnancy or a health condition, or perhaps due to a previously unhealthy relationship with alcohol, younger Millennial and Generation Z drinkers are driving the trend, actively drinking less than their parents or grandparents. So if you see an advertisement for a non-alcoholic brand that focuses on an aspirational message rather than a pragmatic one, it’s that majority of the market they are attempting to speak to directly.
As for what impact this drinking trend is having on overall wellness, it may be too early to really measure. One of the key ways that non-alcoholic beverages can help wellness and mental health is by reducing stress. Alcohol is a depressant, and it can worsen stress and anxiety symptoms that drives many people to consume alcohol in the first place. Non-alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, can help to reduce stress, improve mood, cognitive presence, and even help unlock better sleep. Some even contain adaptogens, which are natural substances that can reduce the body’s stress response.
As many healthcare organizations continue to struggle over an increasing number of patients seeking care across the spectrum of physical and mental health, a reduction in alcohol consumption provides hope for an already overtaxed system. In the meantime, the next time you walk down the beverage aisle, consider giving one of those N/A options a shot. You could be contributing to better health down the road.