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Happy Hour? Watch your sugar content

It’s refreshing, nutritional: curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has a good track record as a natural anti-inflammatory and is also great for supporting liver detox pathways. Catherine Burns’s iced golden latte is one way of reaping its benefits

Friday the 13th feels like a good day for a glass of wine at my desk, but I suppose 9am is a fraction early. I once shared an overnight train from Pretoria to Cape Town with a crazy older lady who started doing shots of vodka at breakfast.

She kept saying to me: “My doctor says just the one is fine.”

I am not sure he meant one every ten minutes, but there you go. I’m not sure I’m down with hard liquor at breakfast, a mimosa is right up my alley, though. Ideally, at brunch in the sun!

For some reason wine feels more healthy than spirits, but actually, in the advent of all the new spirit and soda mixes (eg cans of Deep Bay), it’s much easier to keep your sugar and calorie intake down with the latter.

By switching from Bacardi Breezers to a vodka soda, you can save yourself (if we take three drinks as an average intake) 801 calories and 28.5 teaspoons of sugar.

An average adult should have no more than seven teaspoons of sugar a day so to think that you can go over by such a massive amount in just three drinks is insanity. Cocktails are generally very, very sweet, so do try and pick a lower sugar option, or just have them occasionally.

The sugar content in wine is hard to measure as it’s not on the label and the information is hard to find on company websites.

Manufacturers often add sugar to wine to make it more smooth, but it should only be coming in at around a quarter teaspoon per glass (although up to two teaspoons for dessert wine).

Whether or not wine is actually therapeutic in general is up for debate. No matter how many studies there are that show a positive correlation between red wine intake and reduced rates of heart disease, there are just as many that show a direct link between alcohol and the risk of certain cancers.

We all know that stress is a killer too, so if wine helps with the stress, does that make it healthy? And if we can’t call it “healthy”, can we at least not call it “unhealthy”? The answer, of course, lies somewhere within the realm of balance; which means different things to different people, so it’s kind of hard to define.

The UK has recently revised alcohol intake guidelines for men, bringing the safe limit down to 14 units (the same as for women). One unit is equivalent to 5floz wine or 12floz beer, though, which may be way smaller than you’re used to. If you do drink alcohol, then the better options are wine, champagne or a white spirit (vodka, gin …) mixed with soda water and a wedge of fresh lime.

If that’s too far away from your usual cooler and if you need a bit more flavour, then try adding a splash of elderflower cordial or Rose’s Lime to sweeten things up.

They are still sugary, but much less so than soda or cranberry juice. Your other option is to use a flavoured sparkling water as your mixer instead.

I love Spindrift’s sparkling waters (Miles) and they have tons of flavours to keep things interesting.

Make sure you just get the water-based option, not the juice option, and avoid other brands of flavoured water that have artificial dyes or sweeteners.

Always give the labels a quick check as the marketing can be amazingly deceptive. Something that looks all natural and healthy can still be packed with sugar and artificial nasties.

Of course, not everything you drink has to be alcoholic! As always, make sure you stay properly hydrated with lots of plain water. If you feel thirsty, you’re probably already a little dehydrated.

Dehydration is the primary cause of fatigue and can also confuse your hunger signals, so keep sipping through the day. You can over-hydrate, though, so listen to your body.

Keep thirst at bay by being consistent with your intake and check your urine — it should be very pale yellow.

A multivitamin or B complex may throw you off there (as they typically turn your urine bright yellow or a little green temporarily). Also, eating beetroot may turn it pink (depending on your genes), but if you haven’t eaten beets, then see your doctor quick-sharp!

Finally, to liven up the monotony, then any of the sparkling waters I mentioned are good, plus herbal teas too. When it comes to herbal teas, I like to brew them strongly and then ice them in the summer.

I recently did that with the golden latte and it was delicious.

Typically, I make the latte with golden paste (a special blend that I sell from the office), but as we’re a little low on stock right now, I’m giving you an alternative method.

The curcumin (the active ingredient in the turmeric) is still really bioavailable thanks to the ginger, coconut oil and a crack of black pepper.

Curcumin has a good track record as a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s also great for supporting liver detox pathways and is showing promise for help with cancer prevention too.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Iced Golden Latte (caffeine-free, dairy-free)

Ingredients (per person)

12floz (approximately) almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)

½ tsp coconut oil

¼ tsp ground turmeric

Pinch ginger

Crack of black pepper (trust me)

Pinch cardamom

½ to 1 tsp honey (optional)

Method: You can either whisk this in a pan over the stove, or whiz it in a blender.

If you use the stove, you’ll obviously have to allow it to cool. If you use the blender, just pour it straight over lots of ice in a tall glass.

Skip the plastic straw; use a paper, glass or stainless steel one (lots of options at International Imports). A straw is good, as it prevents you getting a yellow moustache!

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook