Sugar in booze?

Today I watched a pot boil. Another myth debunked, and the victory celebrated with a feast of boiled eggs. While consuming the unborn, I thought again about that poor squeamish girl’s face today.

I stared at the display of fresh legs of lamb until one of the staff asked what I was doing.

“Oh, just watching babies bleed”.

She won’t have lamb for dinner for a while, judging by the expression on her face. One of my less cruel games, really. The real hard stuff has been reserved solely for the antismokers and antidrinkers. You might think that would restrict my range for the really vicious stuff, but add in the antifat, antisalt, antimeat and the rising stars of antisugar and I think I have plenty of legitimate targets to be going on with.

The SugarRighteous have now tried the double whammy. There is hidden sugar in booze!

Frankly, if there is still sugar in it, it should have fermented longer. Or been distilled. Sugar cannot come over in a distillate because it isn’t a volatile compound –  so their example of gin and tonic is a load of bunk. All the sugar is in the tonic. Just drink the gin and you’ll be fine.

Similarly, there cannot be residual sugar in whisky or vodka or in anything distilled. It is possible in beer and wine but as I said, if it’s done right, the sugar should all be turned into alcohol. Okay, there might well be a bit left but there shouldn’t be much. There’ll be more in sweet wines but they don’t appeal to me so I’ve never bothered to look.

There is also the question of what they mean by ‘sugar’. Glucose is a sugar. So is fructose. Galactose. Mannose. Xylose. Sucrose and lactose are pairs of sugars, not sugars in the strict chemical definition of the word – they are called disaccharides. There are a host of other sugars, some of which we can’t actually digest at all. They are all defined as sugars and all have a calorific value. Grass has a calorific value but you won’t get very many calories out of it.

Mannose is a big component of yeast cell walls, so it’s going to be in beer and wine. If they are using the catch-all term ‘sugar’ then they are counting all the strange ones as well, the ones produced by yeast and bacteria as cell structural components and which are released when the cell fragments. Some are as long chains of sugar – polysaccharides – and even if you can use the individual sugar, if you don’t have the enzymes to break the chain then you can’t get at them.

Even in something as simple as starch, which is made of long chains of glucose, you can’t get it all. Those chains come in two types. Amylose is a straight chain. Your body can deal with that. Amylopectin is a branched chain. Your body can prune it back to the branch points but no further because your enzymes only work from one end of the chain and can’t deal with branches. Gut bacteria get the rest of that starch. The right combination of poor enzymes and ferocious gut bacteria can cause bloating. Then venting. Then loss of social contacts.

In short, when they say ‘sugar’, that does not necessarily mean it’s going to make you fat. It might make you fart since your gut bacteria can use pretty much whatever they can get. There are over 400 known species isolated from the stinky Play-Doh you extrude and DNA analyses suggest there might be as many again that we haven’t isolated yet. That is a hell of a lot of different enzyme systems. They can reduce anything to brown sludge.

Except sweetcorn. I don’t know why anyone bothers to eat that. It’s indestructible.

So that’s the ‘sugar content’ nonsense dealt with.

Another thing about booze is that it is full of calories. Around 1800 in a bottle of whisky. Those are largely in the ethanol itself which is digestible and your body can use it for energy. It’s not that good at using it for energy so the liver tends to get a bit screwed up if that’s all it gets. It can cope with some, how much it can cope with is a very individual thing. Some livers can deal with loads of it, others start to get all holier than Swiss cheese. Individuality is not allowed on the NHS, you must be forced into the British Standard Human mould and all consume exactly the same.

Take the example of two other folk at work. One is a tiny, slim girl, the other is a giant bloke who looks like Obelix. They are both around 18-20 years old.

If you set a salt (for example) intake level that is the average of the real requirements of these two, it will be too much salt for the small girl and too little for Obelix. Your requirements for salt, vitamins, sugar, anything at all are not defined by ‘daily amount per person’ but by ‘daily amount per kg of body weight‘. The RDA on the sides of cans is a nonsense. It applies only to those who are exactly average in all respects and if the number of such people is more than five, I will be surprised.

Science used to understand that but seems to have lost most of its knowledge while scrabbling for grants.. I don’t think the medics ever really did. They just look up the book – but only if you say you are, or have been, a smoker. Otherwise they ignore both the book and you.

Now, I suppose, you can just answer ‘yes’ when asked if you put sugar in your tea and get the same result…


20 thoughts on “Sugar in booze?

  1. Oh, just watching babies bleed

    You are a deeply sick person, LI.

    But it is that time when I stop eating fresh lamb now I’ve seen them playing in the fields.


    • I wouldn’t worry too much, lambs are thicker than ewes (which is no mean feat).

      A vet told me that the main ambition of a sheep is to die and that there are basically only two types – a live one and a dead one. I once spent two hours with him trying to extricate a lamb. We couldn’t save it, had to bust its jaw but managed to get it out (dead of course). The guy, a dour Scot, was visibly upset he’d failed.

      Incidentally, he was very unlucky, succumbing to brucellosis.

      Another one to frighten the drones Leggy…


  2. “Except sweetcorn. I don’t know why anyone bothers to eat that. It’s indestructible”

    Because the best way to eat it is smothered in salt and butter!


  3. <“The SugarRighteous have now tried the double whammy. There is hidden sugar in booze!

    Oh, I don’t know, Leggy. I rather see it more as the BoozeRighteous trying to steal a march on the new upstart SugarRighteous by pretending that their “bad guy” is worse than the other lot’s. Oo-er, missus! Perhaps the quoted Dr Aseem is secret Fifth Columnist working on behalf of Action on Alcohol (or whatever they’re called). Ho-hum. Are there no underhand depths that these various Righteous groups won’t stoop to now that the funds previously invested in the now-fast-fading anti-tobacco movement are up for grabs?


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