Wednesday, 4 January 2012

An alcohol-free week

Flickr: Tim Pearce, Los Gatos
'Tis the New Year and inevitably the papers have been full of how to get yourself fit, how to detox and soforth. The most reassuringly sensible advice, to me, is the one that's been doing the rounds about a month of detox being a waste of time - you need to be reasonably sensible all year round to make any lasting impact on your health.

I'm no expert but this seems so sensible it has to be true, and is at the very worst a harmless idea. Nonetheless, following a minor gum infection and a visit to the dentist I have antibiotics and yes, they're the sort with which you mustn't drink alcohol.

Contrary to popular belief this isn't true of all antibiotics. I know, I saw it on QI so it must be true. The fact is that in the early days of antibiotics they were prescribed to sailors who'd been into port, found a prostitute and got themselves infected with something nasty. So they were prescribed and - because the patient would be more amenable to getting reinfected before the last lot had cleared up when under the influence of alcohol - they were told drink would render the drug ineffectual.

Nonetheless I've checked and mine are indeed the alcohol-free variety (and the infection is, honestly, a gum thing). The snag I'm going to face is that I don't like sugary, sweet drinks, so sitting at dinner with a can of Coke isn't an option I'm going to relish. I find water quite dull and elderflower gets a little cloying after a while.

It's while looking at the range of drinks available at supermarkets that I start to realise just how in love with alcohol we are as a society. At the end of last year I referenced the excellent blog by Wendy Hurrell (who I see has been kind enough to reference this entry for which my thanks) in which, for a TV documentary, she went without alcohol for a month. I'm only aiming for a week so it's going to be a pushover, but I'll be interested to see whether I start to notice changes in my health and sleeping patterns - and indeed alertness and maybe even weight (a tall order for a week).

At the moment I'm still at the stage of being struck by just how much we orient ourselves around alcohol at the moment, and whether I'm going to find anything I find halfway palatable to have as my preferred 'tipple'.

Suggestions welcome...

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