12 January 2016

Units

"Men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week - the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or seven glasses of wine - in order to keep their health risks low, new government guidelines have recommended."

That's the latest official health advice in Britain. The grim-faced "experts" warn us about cancers of the mouth and intestines, obesity, clinical depression, breast cancer in women, liver and kidney failure, heart disease. And so it goes on.

However, these killjoy prophets of doom fail to acknowledge the benefits that moderate consumption of alcohol can bring. The laughter, the lubrication of conversation, the relaxation, the social nourishment. And they also fail to explain away the fact that the consumption of alcohol has been a part of daily living in Britain since the Romans first came to these islands. 

Most British adults enjoy a tipple. I am not talking about binge drinking or excessive consumption but sensible enjoyment of beers, cider, wine and spirits - whatever floats your boat. Alcohol has been part of my life for forty five years and I haven't been buried yet nor have I suffered any health complaints connected with alcohol so how am I meant to take this fourteen unit advice seriously?

I guess that the sour-faced experts would prefer it if we all went to bed at 9pm, ate salads ever day, visited the gym three times a week and went to church on Sundays. If I limited myself to fourteen units a week I might as well just forget drinking at all. Besides what is life for? The champions of The Unit Religion never seem to address that fundamental matter.

Even as I write this post, I am drinking a lovely bottle of "Henney's" Classic Cider from Herefordshire and it's a nice drink too  - probably two and a half units of my weekly allowance. But tomorrow night I will be going to the pub quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers" where I expect I'll sup four pints of India Pale Ale by "Greene King". How many units is that? Probably nine.

I hate that word "units" anyway. It sounds scientific and measurable. I prefer a different kind of language for alcohol. Visiting the Henney's website, I find these kind of words in place of "units" and miserable research vocabulary - "Sweet appley aroma, palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some  spicy bite and a bit of tannuc grip. Very fruity and quite pure with a nice savoury twist."

So in conclusion, I won't be buying a unit notebook any time soon in order to keep a detailed tally of my alcohol consumption and I certainly won't be toasting the proponents of the fourteen unit idea. The only concession I shall make is to try a bit harder to ensure that there are  two or even  three days a week when I don't drink any alcohol at all.

14 comments:

  1. We're all going to die sometime, of something. We might as well enjoy ourselves in the meantime!

    Plus, even if you could follow all the good health rules....would you really live longer, or would it just FEEL longer? I'd rather have a drink and a laugh and a good meal when the mood strikes! I'm trying to enjoy the ride, since no one here gets out alive.

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    1. I share your philosophy entirely Jennifer.

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  2. I hate the word "experts"...they are all "drips under pressure" fulfilling the orders they've been given to conduct all their stupid researches for which they're being paid admirably!

    I wonder how many of such "experts" abide by their 14 "units" per week!

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    1. I bet I could drink any of those experts under the table!

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  3. No two people are the same, and although our bodies work all more or less the same way, it is impossible to state a specific amount of something is good (or bad) for everyone. It is always only an average, and should be taken as that - just a recommendation for those people who want or need guidelines for each and everything.
    And let's be honest, there are plenty of those around who overdo it no matter what they do, who have lost the ability to balance out things nicely in their lives. Overeating and binge drinking is just as bad for one's quality of life as is being undernourished (deliberately, for sticking to some absurd "ideal").
    So, maybe some people really need to be told. Others, like you and I, know that we simply feel so much better when we go out for walks and eat when we are hungry and drink when we feel like it, we don't need telling. Our parents did that for us when we were little :-)

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    1. Have you heard of the term "nanny state"? These unit recommendations seem to be part of that syndrome.

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    2. Yes, I know the term "nanny state". Sadly, there are plenty of people about who behave childish enough to still be needing a nanny.

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    3. I'm with Meike on this one (no unusually as it happens). I enjoy my red wine. However when one looks at the phenomenal cost to the National Health Service of obesity and over-consumption of alcohol.I'm not a lover of the nanny state but we bring so many problems and rules upon ourselves.

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  4. Killjoys!

    I think the "experts" make such extreme recommendations knowing that many people will adhere to a less-strict standard, and that is probably somewhere around the more reasonable healthy recommendation. Know what I mean?

    We drink a glass or two of wine almost every night with dinner -- but like you, I think I will now try to be more careful to have a couple of consecutive dry nights per week. It makes sense that the ol' liver would need a regular break.

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    1. Do you have liver for dinner Steve? Maybe like Hannibal Lecter?...But yes - a couple of days off is a good idea. We can always drink fizzy water or hot chocolate instead.

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  5. I hardly ever touch the stuff these days so I don't really have a dog in this fight. All I would say is that the 'experts' are simply advising us on the basis of what they know. It's up to us whether we take that advice or not, but we can't say we haven't been warned!

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    1. Being sensible doesn't suit you Mr SP! Go crazy man!

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  6. The government is panicking
    In a few yearrs time the drinking baby boomers will be suffering from acute liver disease, oesophageal cancers , mouth cancerrs etc etc....
    It will bring the nhs to its knees

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    1. Christ! I hope that I am not a baby boomer!

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