From the dawn of time, drinks have been used to define the nature of our important occasions. Drinks facilitate the gathering of people and their interaction. We drink to celebrate a new birth, a graduation, at parties, at dinner, with friends and by ourselves. Drinks are used to define the nature of the occasion. We are a nation of drinkers, aren’t we?
A recent survey on alcohol consumption in the UK though, found out that there is a growing number of people that choose to completely abstain from alcohol. These are young adults between the ages of 16 and 24, with 1 out of 5 adults in the UK now avoiding alcohol completely.
A look around my social group seemed to confirm this. I asked one of my female friends why she did not drink. “I have never found something that I like to drink,” was her answer. Another male friend is a regular marathon runner and worries about the effect of ethanol on his recovery. Another friend simply cannot cope with hangovers these days.
The reasons for not drinking are plentiful, but perhaps it is the growing presence of social media in our lives that is pushing us to a green juice and Crossfit culture with all things “clean eating”, instead of other things. There is definite surge towards being rigid about what we eat and drink and how much we exercise. Unfortunately, some of these people are now feeling the pressure of not drinking at all, and because of this, are now avoiding social events or evenings down the pub with friends.
But have you ever considered that drinking in moderation could have health benefits?
Red wine which has less sugar than white wine, contains iron, potassium, magnesium and the antioxidant procyanidin and resveratrol. And choosing organic wines mean less sulphates, and therefore less hangovers and headaches the following morning. Choosing red grapes like Rioja may also reduce cholesterol as well.
If spirits are our choice of drink, then tequila is a surprisingly good choice. It is naturally gluten and grain free. The natural sugar that it contains is non digestible and therefore won’t raise blood sugar. Just be sure to choose good quality tequila where extra sugar alcohols are not added. Another smart choice for a drink is a Bloody Mary. The tomato juice is full of lycopene (prostate protection). Vodka is still one of the leanest and purest alcohols to choose.
It is not a coincidence that Vodka, lime and soda is still the most popular drink among women under 30. A new contender for a healthy drink is coconut water and vodka. Coconut water is in fact full of potassium and electrolytes making it a hydrating and refreshing drink. For all beer lovers, there are also many tasty beers alternatives, including alcohol free ones as well. Beer is a good low sugar option and contains minerals such as phosphorous, iodine, magnesium and potassium.
Drinking together, whether it is a cup of tea or something stronger, is an essential part of socialising. The amber nectar is not only a stress reliever, and an ice-breaker in social situations… but it also tastes good! Reciprocal drink buying or sharing creates a rapport between people. It is often a drinking place that is the hub of a community. The main function of moderate alcohol use is to promote social merriment. However, it is the merriment, not the alcohol, which is of central importance. It would be a shame if those people that are trying to avoid alcohol then end up avoiding social situations. There are so many healthy drink alternatives that involve or avoid alcohol. I believe the benefits of social interaction are indeed too important to give up on them.
So, before we rule completely out of alcohol, perhaps we should remember the health benefits associated with occasional use of it, and apply the Everything In Moderation rule.
After all, who does not feel better after putting the world to rights with friends and a drink in the hand?