Myths & tall tales bust
Lately most alcohol adverts include: ‘Not for Sale to Persons under the age of 18’ emblazoned at the bottom of the advert. It’s in clear black print on a white background and it cannot be missed. Some products have health warnings and warning woman not to drink while pregnant. These are self regulations leading players in the liquor industry consider a social responsibility and this social responsibility addresses and covers four key negatives, namely: responsible messages in all communications; alcohol and pregnancy; anti drink driving and underage drinking.
The following is the self regulated framework developed by Pernod Ricard and others in the liquor industry to ensure: no encouragement of excessive or reckless consumption; no ridiculing of moderation or abstinence; no association with violent, aggressive or anti-social behaviour; no communications directed at minors; no inclusion of minors in advertising messages; no association of consumption with motor vehicles driving and motor sports; no references to health benefits; no masking of drinks nature or alcohol level; no communication of the following alcohol myths, including that alcohol warms you up, or that alcohol gives you strength, or that a weak alcohol level drink is harmless or that a high-alcohol level is a sign of quality; no association between consumption and intellectual, mental, physical and sporting performances; no attack on human dignity (male/female dignity); no association with social success; no association with sexual prowess (including no gratuitous nudity) and that sample offers are made available exclusively to adults.
Alcohol and your health
The key to drinking alcohol is simple – drink in moderation and drink the best there is.
How much can you drink a day?
The rough guideline is 2-3 tots (25ml tot) a day for women, 3-4 tots (25ml tot) a day for men. This rule does not apply to operating a vehicle for which the legal implications are as per the Road Traffic Act 93/96 as in effect since March 1998. Sections 122, 126, 149, which in less technical terms states that any specimen of blood taken from part of your body must be less than 0,05 gram per 100 millilitres while the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of breath exhaled by you must be less than 0,24 milligrams per 1000 millilitres. Both these tests must be done within 2 hours of an offence.
A standard 25ml measure of alcohol contains between 55 to 65 calories. Whisky contains no fat and no added carbohydrates.
A 350ml can or bottle of beer contains 153 calories with 4% total carbohydrates, 1% sodium and 1% calcium.
A glass of wine (normally 100ml) contains 85 calories with 2% iron, 1% calcium and 1% total carbohydrates.
Congeners and Alcohol
Congeners are toxic chemicals that are formed during fermentation. These congeners include small amounts of chemicals such as acetone, acetaldehyde and tannins.
Congeners are mostly responsible for headaches. Vodka has less congeners than gin. Most blended Scotch whisky has about four times more congeners than gin. Brandy, rum and single-malt Scotch whisky has about six times more than gin. Bourbon drinkers ingest eight times the amount of congeners as do gin drinkers, and 30 times as much as vodka. Red wine has more congeners than white wine does
The Hangover question
Alcohol dehydrates you as it is a diuretic which increases urination and flushes fluids from the body. Your liver needs water to dissolve and expel the toxins it receives from alcohol. When your body’s reserves run out, your liver borrows water from other organs, including your brain and therefore the headaches. Don’t drink coffee the morning after as coffee is also a diuretic. Too much alcohol depletes the body of necessary substances including blood sugar, vitamins and minerals. The more these trace elements that are depleted the worse your headache will be.
Cheap red wine is worst for hangovers, followed in descending order by brandy, red wine, bourbon, rum, whisky, white wine, gin and lastly vodka.
How to and not to treat a hangover
Never drink painkillers (especially paracetamol / Tylenol) with alcohol in your system as this wrecks serious havoc with your liver. Rehydrate your body by drinking water and rest, rest, rest. Sweet drinks help in replacing blood sugar, but often cause severe nausea – stick to water. Tea and coffee will only dehydrate the body further – stick to water. Better still – drink a glass of water between each drink to supplement the liquid alcohol will flush from your body.
Exaggerated health claims.
Whisky and cancer
Do not be tempted to drink because of the following claims made in various magazines and articles: ‘Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine. Ellagic acid is a proven anti-carcinogen, anti-mutagen, and anticancer initiator. Ellagic acid is used in alternative medicine to prevent cancer”. Ellagic acid can be obtained by eating strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates and best of all, red raspberry seeds. There nothing wrong with savouring a 12 year old ‘The Glenlivet’ Single Malt or a 10 year old ‘Aberlour’ Single Malt in moderation, the key words being; savour and moderation.
Whisky and your heart
Research suggests that a large shot of whisky can help protect against heart disease. Drinking the equivalent of three or four 25ml measures of whisky a week can boost the body's defences, but only if you are in a risk group, such as menopausal women or men over 40 years and prone to heart trouble. The jury is out as to the facts on this argument.
Whisky and coeliac/celiac disease
Although malted barley and other cereals are used to make whisky, Proteins (including gluten), do not carry over the distillation process and are not present in the final product. Whisky or Whiskey can be consumed as part of a gluten free diet.
It is better to drink brands such as Jameson, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet or Absolut Vodka than to opt for cheaper alternatives. Drink quality rather than quantity. Drink in moderation. Drink the best you can afford to drink.