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Tuesday Fasts for Brits Recommended for Health

Posted: Saturday, 09 January 2016 14:19

 

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Tuesday Fasts for Brits Recommended for Health

Jan 09: The new alcohol guidelines recommending lower levels, released this week after 20 years ensure gender equality by recommending equal alcohol consumption by reducing it for men and suggesting abstinence for one day a week, would be reminiscent of the Tuesday fasts kept by many drinkers in India for religious reasons, but it is doubtful if the guidelines will have a perceptible difference with pro-wine groups ridiculing the coloured vision of the chief medical officer

Dame Sally Davies, CMO of England has rubbished studies on the health benefits of drinking red wine even in moderation with the new government guidance claiming that there is no safe level of drinking alcohol. In any case, the risks outweigh any potential gain, according to the first full Review of alcohol guidelines for UK since 1995.

On the assumption that most people will not completely stop drinking, the review reduced the maximum amount recommended for men from 21 units to 14 units a week, duly spaced out, implying no binge drinking but suggesting daily drinking and abstaining one day a week. The practice of abstinence is quite common in Indian drinkers, both men and women who keep a fast or eat only vegetarian meal on Tuesday for religious reasons, as an abeyance to Hanuman, one of the central figures in Ramayana, who is revered as a God by a significant number of Hindus in the north India.

Davies has reportedly said that the link between drinking and certain cancers was now better understood than in the 1990s (when the heart benefits of red wine were found in several studies). It is the presumption and her belief that drinking no more than 14 units in a week has a low chance of causing alcohol-related disease.

A 175 ml glass of wine at 13% alcohol  by volume (abv) is 2.3 units, according to the Drinkaware charity, says Decarnte. Here lies the rub. International standard for a wine glass varies from 125 mL (6 glasses/bottle) to an increasingly seen 150 mL (5 glasses /bottle). In UK, seemingly, it has become 4 glasses to a bottle. (delWine has always been in favour of 125 mL for a standard glass and limit the daily dosage to 2 such glasses). There have been reports that in order to sell more wine by the glass, some English restaurants have made the ‘glasses’ as big as 350-375 mL so the drinker believes he or she is having just one glass, oblivious of the damage that excessive alcohol in the bigger glass causes damage to the lever.

While it has been an internationally well established medical fact that the amount of alcohol suited for a person is different for different people depending on the rate of  metabolism and it is much wiser to drink wine slowly with food and that women in general are built in such a way that the safe levels are lower for them, the guidelines make no difference at all between body weight, gender and the metabolism. An interesting Article in Decanter by Dr. Michael Apstein a gastroenterologist (liver doctor) and a wine writer gives insight into the science of adverse effects of alcohol thus:

‘Safe levels of alcohol consumption differ depending on the individual. People metabolise (break down) alcohol differently, resulting in dramatic differences in its absorption into the blood. This amount of alcohol, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) determines its effect on the body. The more a person can metabolise the alcohol, the less gets into the blood stream. Thus the individuals who metabolise alcohol more efficiently will have a lower BAC, a lower risk of adverse effects from it and become less intoxicated. The speed of drinking and whether you’re drinking wine or liquor has an enormous impact on BAC; so does your gender and age, whether you eat while drinking, whether you are a sporadic or daily drinker and, perhaps surprisingly which wine you drink.’

The guidelines suggest that UK men now drink not only the same amount as women, but significantly less than their European counterparts. They are in line with the advisory in the US although it says the wine should be drunk in moderation-one drink a day for women and two for men, Europe in general has more liberal guidelines. In France and Italy it is up to three drinks a day, while in Spain it is four a day. Sweden has the same limit of 14 drinks a week with just nine for women. A reader in Portugal informs delWine that in Portugal when the doctors advise against alcohol, it is liquor they are talking about. Wine is a standard part of lunch and dinner that seems to be in line with Dr. Apstein’s explanation on metabolism.

Although the guidelines are not mandatory in any country they do underline the fact that the negative effects of cancer with higher consumption weigh heavily on the minds of the government bodies responsible of the health of their citizens. The guidelines in UK will certainly leave a mark on people’s mind and hopefully they will become more responsible and moderate their drinking levels.

Subhash Arora

DelWine has always recommended daily dosage of 2 glasses of wine (125 mL each) for men (preferably red and with food)  and 1 for women, with an alcohol level of 12.5-13%. Strict no-no for binge drinking. Pregnant women can have a glass or wine a week- on 2 different occasions. We also recommend women taking folate tablets to negate the chance of breast cancer. But please check with your doctor and go with his/her advice. Jai Ho!!- editor

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