since lockdown began back in march, a combination of doubt, uncertainty, fear, and – let’s face it – having nothing much else to do, has seen many of us reaching for an extra glass of wine or can of beer either for comfort, to bolster our nerves, or just simply to pass the time…
whether this indulging took place socially during a ‘wine and nibbles’ party organised via zoom, or you were holed-up in your living room swigging from a bottle as you anxiously watched the news unfold, it’s true that many of us got into a habit of imbibing too freely during this strange and unprecedented period of modern life.
now, with lockdown’s end hopefully in sight, many of us are returning to a more normal pace of life; throwing back our doors, blinking into the sunlight – and generally hoping that our collective hangovers will quickly subside…
we all know alcohol is bad for us. not only is it physically damaging, but it can be devastating to our mental wellbeing.
regular consumption of alcohol actually changes the chemistry of the brain. it decreases the levels of serotonin – the chemical that helps us fight feelings of negativity. long-term exposure to alcohol will generally cause (or exacerbate) feelings of depression – which, in many cases, will remain in place, even after detoxing.
so, what should we drink?
well, there’s water, of course. whilst this is totally necessary – and, therefore, vital to good health – it’s not exactly exciting or social, is it? water is rarely considered ‘a treat.’ there’s a good reason why the words: “let’s see your birthday in properly with a good old drink of water back at my place!” have never been uttered in the entire history of the world.
teas and coffees contain caffeine, which we are also routinely informed we need to cut back on. this is especially true of anyone that suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, or insomnia. however, with many varieties of shop-bought coffees, it’s not even the caffeine that’s the big problem…
according to the details on the website of a well-known high-street coffee chain, a ‘white choca moca frappaccino’ contains a massive 74g of sugar per serving. that’s around nineteen teaspoons of sugar.
the world health organisation recommends adults have less than 26g (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day –and a single 500ml bottle of cola has around 53g sugar (12 teaspoons), so, if we want to live healthily, clearly fizzy drinks – and many of the more-ludicrous-sounding shop-bought coffees – are out.
what about fruit juices then? they are more exciting than water and are still healthy, right?
well, you really need to check the label. many supermarket ‘fruit juices’ have little more than a nodding association with an actual piece of fruit. they will contain either a tiny percentage or, in some cases, no actual fruit at all – just chemicals that make the drink taste a bit like fruit.
even if you ensure that the label reads: ‘contains 100% real fruit juice,’ when buying fruit drinks – or smoothies – you might still be disappointed, as much of the health-giving properties of the fruit are naturally contained within its fibre – which, because it’s a drink, have been removed. what remains after that, is usually just the fruit’s sugar.
sports drinks have become extremely popular in the last few years, especially with younger consumers. these drinks – often sold in tall cans with vivid, neon-coloured branding – were introduced to the market as drink primarily for the use of professional athletes – as they contain high levels of sugar and salt (electrolytes).
whilst such things are useful to athletes – who will lose vital sugars and salts through intense exercise – most people going about their daily lives, do not require additional sugars and salts – and, in fact, to maintain their health and wellbeing, the average uk consumer should be cutting down on these things.
where does this leave us, exactly? drinking nothing but water? no, of course not – life would be very tedious without the occasional indulgence – and whether you like a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a 95% cream and chocolate ‘coffee’ from your local high-street chain, you should make time to treat yourself occasionally.
whilst it’s worth remembering that everything you drink does have a very specific effect on your health and feelings of personal wellbeing – for most, to improve on this, it is usually just a case of increasing water intake and moderating the other things.