The beginning of January can find all of us feeling a little sluggish after a season of over-indulgence. Your body is screaming “DETOX!” and your brain is starting to listen, torn between the delicious merits of a nice G&T and the perceived bodily benefits of avoiding alcohol and anything with too many calories.
But it doesn't have to be that way - while it's always a good idea to drink in moderation and have no-gin days in your week, gin in fact straddles both sides of the detox/retox fence. You may think it bad for its alcoholic aspects, but actually, even those may not be as bad as you think.
Indeed, studies have shown that moderate drinking could have a positive effect, with people who drink moderately and in small amounts having a longer life expectancy than both non-drinkers and people who drink alcohol to excess.
Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian at St George’s Hospital told The Guardian recently: “We know that a little bit of alcohol seems to be helpful,” Collins says.
“Maybe because its sedative effect relaxes you slightly or because it keeps the liver primed with these detoxifying enzymes to help deal with other toxins you’ve consumed. That’s why the government guidelines don’t say, ‘Don’t drink’; they say, ‘OK drink, but only modestly.’ It’s like a little of what doesn’t kill you cures you.”
Quite aside from the alcohol though, gin contains elements that, individually, each bring their own mooted benefits: botanicals - the different spices and fruits that give each gin its unique delicious flavour.
Here are five common botanicals found in gin and the 'detoxifying' properties it’s been suggested they may hold. Now that’s what we call a 'detox' that’s easy to swallow!
The health benefits of juniper berries are likely the main reason why gin was originally distilled in the Netherlands over 500 years ago. A spirit infused with juniper berries was concocted by Dutch chemists to treat all types of illnesses.
If you’re attempting a New Year’s detox session, juniper berries’ antioxidant properties could help eliminate a lot of the bacteria baddies floating around in your body. For more specific bacteria bashing, juniper facilitates digestion by causing an increase in the enzymes in your stomach and also increases urine production to help flush out terrible toxins.
Coriander may decorate dishes all over the world, but it also flavours drinks - and a good thing if you’re drinking gin during this detoxification period.
Coriander contains vitamin C, one of the most well-known antioxidants as well as potassium - which will help bring your blood pressure back down after all those fatty foods you ate over the festive period - and lots of dietary fibre which will smooth your digestion process and help rid your body of the holiday horrors.
If you’re a woman who likes gin and is in full-swing detox mode, then this is the botanical for you. The Chinese have known about the cleansing and health benefits of Angelica root - known to them as Dang Quai - for over 2,000 years.
Chinese women infuse the root in water as a cure-all daily tonic. The root improves blood circulation, helps your kidneys and liver recuperate from the Christmas abuse, and encourages regular waste excretions.
Apart from the obvious benefits of being a citrus fruit packed with vitamin C, lemons hold a host of health benefits in their yellow covering.
The antioxidants in lemon peels can help your skin heal itself after an end-of-the-year binge and it’s been suggested they can help to prevent wrinkles. The porous peels will reduce cholesterol after all of those fatty foods you’ve been eating. And perhaps most importantly during this period of partying pause, lemon peel actually gets rid of certain toxins that make you more likely to become addicted to alcoholic beverages.
Cassia bark or “Chinese cinnamon” as it is sometimes called, primarily offers health benefits for certain parts of the population susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
That being said, it’s not a bad idea to start consuming more of it now for the long term. As for its short-term New Year’s health properties, cassia bark will help you fight off bacterial infections to which you’ve made yourself susceptible by not taking care of your body these past few weeks.