In fact, last year, we consumed 73 million bottles of the stuff.
Fortunately, experts have found that it could well have health benefits, It’s been reported that gin can help tackle hayfever, but now experts have discovered that it may also boost your metabolism.
A study carried out by the University of Sigulda in Latvia found that gin may have a positive effect on our metabolism by helping to burn calories more efficiently.
The study was carried out using groups of mice, who were given either gin or water.Their calorie burning potential was then observed, with researchers finding that the mice who drank the gin showed an increase in their metabolic rate and not by a small measure.
Not only that, but some mice showed an increase of a whopping 17% in metabolic rate.
The mice who were given the water showed no change at all. The reason given for the change in metabolism is that it creates what has been dubbed an ‘afterburn effect,’ boosting metabolism as the liver continues to break down the alcohol in the liver.Study author Thisa Lye confirmed that ‘the spirit may have a slimming effect on the body’, though she added that further tests would need to be carried out on humans before the theory could be completely verified.
For many, summer and drinking go hand-in-hand – it’s the season for pints in beer gardens and wine in the park.
The problem is, a lot of us are stuck ‘enjoying’ these drinks with red, puffy eyes and our noses streaming into our glasses, thanks to the ultimate killjoy, hay fever.
The seasoned hay fever sufferer will make sure they’re stocked up on anti-histamines way before pollen starts to fill the spring breeze, but what you might not know is how alcohol can affect hay fever, and which types are best for it.
How does alcohol affect hay fever?
It’s not actually the alcohol itself that affects your allergies, but rather different substances found in alcoholic drinks, containing histamine and sulphites, which cause the symptoms of hay fever.
According to Livestrong, histamine tightens lung muscles, relaxes muscles in blood vessels and speeds up muscle movement in the intestines, while also increasing mucus production and causing inflammation. Sound familiar?
High levels of histamine tend to be found in darker, fermented alcoholic drinks, like wine and beer, which means that for some sufferers as much as a few sips can bring on these symptoms.
Stay in the clear
While no alcohol is going to make your hay fever actively better, Asthma UK say there are drinks you can choose which will stop you from suffering more, namely clear alcohols like gin and vodka.
Gin does not naturally contain any sulphites, and many vodkas are also clear of them, meaning a G&T or a vodka lemonade might be your best bet for a rooftop tipple. Given gin and tonic is practically the perfect summer drink, we can’t really complain.
If you’re a champagne-loving hay fever sufferer, we’ve got some very bad news for you – there’s nothing as bad for your allergies in the world of food and drink than a glass of bubbly.
Champagne contains around 84mg of histamine per 125ml glass. When you compare that with the next worst, red wine, at 15mg for a large glass, you’ve got a pretty strong argument for saving the Moët for the winter months.
Beer varies significantly by type, but a typical lager is around 14mg, while white is significantly better for you.
Will food affect my hay fever too?
Unfortunately the answer here is yes. Tofu, sauerkraut and cured meats are all particularly high in histamine, as well as blue cheese and parmesan.
Canned fish, aubergine, citrus fruits and ketchup are also all worth avoiding if you’re a particularly bad sufferer.
How’s the pollen count this year?
Not to bombard you with yet more bad news but, well, here’s some more bad news: Professor Stephen Durham, a professor of Allergy and Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London told LBC earlier today that we can expect a particularly rough year when it comes to sneezing our brains out through our noses.
“The tree pollen season is starting later this season after the cold spring delayed germination. The warm weather is going to bring on high pollen counts,” he said.
“It seems that there’s been a sudden burst due to the warm weather and we get this late germination and pollen release at once.”
Rather than simply being low in histamine, some foods are actually rich in antihistamines, which help to block or disrupt histamine receptors – this is why many people take antihistamine tablets for hayfever. Foods that are rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, vitamin C or beta-carotene can help to block histamine and reduce inflammation.
Our top anti-histamine foods include:
Garlic – this is a rich source of quercitin and helps to support the immune system
Ginger – this is a popular choice for reducing hayfever symptoms, whether as a tea or added to foods and smoothies
Onions – these are another good source of quercetin and vitamin C
Blueberries – this superfood is packed full of vitamin Cand quercetin
Nettle – you can buy this as a powder to add to smoothies or you could try nettle tea
A smoothie is a great way to get more of these natural anti-histamine foods into your diet. Try a delicious hayfever-blasting smoothie, containing blueberries, strawberries, honey and ginger.
ADD SOME HOLIDAY CHEER TO YOUR PARTY MENU WITH THIS GIN, ELDERFLOWER AND PROSECCO COCKTAIL!
Simple truth: Everyone loves bubbles. And drinking bubbles with friends and family makes them even better.
Ever get tired of the same old drinks, but don’t want to serve something that has a ton of ingredients and is putzy to make? Try this Gin, Elderflower and Prosecco Cocktail.
This is my drink of the season, and I definitely think you should add it to your collection. The elderflower adds a subtle, sweet undertone, and the Prosecco bubbles lighten up the drink nicely.
Looking for a stiff drink? Add just a bit of Prosecco. Want a lighter drink? Be generous with your bubbles.
Usually garnishes are just for looks, but this is one drink where they really complete the cocktail. But don’t worry, they aren’t a lot of work. All you need is a squeeze of lime juice and a fancy sugar-coated rim to make the drink look as impressive as it tastes. Anyway you pour it, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s hoping that you find an opportunity to share this drink with good friends and family this holiday season. Cheers!
Gin, Elderflower and Prosecco Cocktail
5 minPrep Time
5 minTotal Time
2 parts Gin
1 part Elderflower Liqueur
Sugar (for the rim of the glass)
Fill a shaker with ice and add the Gin and Elderflower Liqueur. Shake to combine.
Place the sugar on a small plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of a martini glass and press the rim of the martini glass in the sugar to coat.
Strain the contents of the shaker into the glass and top with Prosecco. Squeeze a lime wedge in the drink and garnish with an additional lime wedge.
Julia Child, who lived to the age of 91, was asked about the secret to her longevity, she replied: ‘Red meat and gin.’
And while we can’t responsibly advocate chasing your steak and chips with a glass or seven every night, there is some truth to the idea of gin having particular benefits – many of which might surprise you.
From the slightly more obvious (a relatively low calorie count) to the truly amazing (stay calm, but there’s a very real possibility that gin makes you look younger), there are a number of reasons why indulging in the spirit could be good for many different aspects of your health.
However, nutritionist Jackie Lynch warns: ‘As with other types of alcohol, there is some evidence to suggest that moderate consumption can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, for instance. This relates to one small glass per day, as studies have shown that as you increase your intake to three glasses per day the risk of cardiovascular disease increases dramatically.’
‘Training yourself to ask for a single rather than a double measure could make all the difference.’
So, remember to consume in moderation, and like any expertly-made martini, take all of these points with a little pinch of salt…
It’s low in calories
Gin is one of the least calorific spirits you can choose, with a mere 97 calories per shot. Add it to a low calorie mixer – diet lemonade or tonic water are our personal recommendations – and you’re still hitting a far lower total than you would with the average glass of wine (160 calories) or pint of beer (208 calories).
And relatively low in sugar
‘Gin only contains traces of sugar which makes it a smart choice if weight management is your goal, especially if you choose your mixer with care,’ Jackie explains in her book, The Right Bite. So that’s gin, tick, but sugary fizzy drinks no, got it?
It keeps wrinkles at bay
The core ingredient in gin is juniper berries, which are jam-packed full of antioxidants. These in turn can help to promote the appearance of healthy, youthful skin, which means that a regular intake of cocktails could hypothetically be responsible for your smooth, line-free face…
It eases bloating
Juniper berries also act as a natural diuretic, and – double whammy – the herbs used to make gin are known for their role in aiding digestion. So if you find that alcohol often bloats you, switching to gin will give you a much flatter stomach than your usual beverage.
It calms joint pain
In addition to its host of other benefits, juniper was actually an old-world remedy for the pain of conditions like arthritis and rheumetism. Of course, a daily Bombay Sapphire isn’t a substitute for proper medication, but there are those who insist that gin-soaked raisins can reduce inflammation, and who are we to argue?
It’s the ‘best’ drink for diabetics
Research published in the Journal of Diabetes Nursing in 2008 looked into the safest drinks for people with type 1 diabetes to consume, and guess what? They found that gin and tonic came out on top. Of course, you should always consult with a medical professional if you are diabetic and concerned about your alcohol consumption, but it might be handy to bring that little nugget along to your appointment, no?
It helps you live longer
One study found that ‘moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks seems to reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cataracts’, and it’s said that the ingredients in gin (yes, juniper again) can help strengthen the connective tissue in your veins, and contain flavonoids, which help to prevent clogged arteries.
Aaah, the gin and tonic…drink for all occasions. From an accompaniment to a summer’s day in the garden, to an after-work refresher, to a Saturday afternoon in the pub – there really is nothing better. But sometimes it’s nice to mix things up just a bit…these five simple recipes will help broaden your G&T horizons. Cheers!
Cucumber and Basil G&T
40ml elderflower liqueur
Juice of ½ a lime
2 sprigs basil, plus more to garnish
Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin ribbons of cucumber and place in a cocktail glass. From the remaining cucumber, cut off 3 chunks to muddle into the cocktail. Squeeze the lime juice into a cocktail shaker and add the gin, St Germain, basil, and cucumber chunks. Muddle the ingredients well, and then add ice.
Shake well, then pour into your glass. Top with tonic and garnish with basil.
5 fresh mint leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
15ml sugar syrup
Muddle blackberries, mint leaves, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a glass. Fill glass with ice, and add the gin. Top with tonic water, stir gently and serve. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a mint leaf.
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
60ml fresh grapefruit juice
Muddle the tarragon and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add a handful of ice cubes, grapefruit juice and gin and shake. Half fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Pour contents of shaker into glass. Top with tonic water. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit and a sprig of tarragon.
Chili and Lime G&T
1 red chili
Juice of ¼ lime
Coriander leaves to garnish (optional)
Slit chili lengthwise and lightly muddle in a glass. Add ice, lime juice and gin. Top with tonic and stir gently. Garnish with coriander leaves if using ice .