The word ‘spirit’ has many meanings. The Holy Spirit as an example, or the scary entities terrorizing people in horror movies. However, when it comes to drinking, ‘spirit’ is a popular synonym to liquor.
Spirit can be defined as a strong distilled liquor such as whiskey, gin, rum, etc. Specifically talking, spirits can be defined as a liquid containing ethyl alcohol and water that is distilled from alcoholic liquids.
So how an earth did the word come to describe something so holy… to something wholly intoxicating?
There are in fact quite a few reasons:
The New Testament in the Bible has five images for the Holy Spirit: tongues, doves, fire, water, and wind. However, in Acts 2:13, Pentecost bystanders actually mistakenly thought intoxication from too much new wine were effects of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit is intoxicating like spirits.
In 327 B.C., Aristotle wrote about the term ‘spirits’ being attributed to alcohol. Even though we do not have proof that his fellow Greeks distilled spirits on a significant level, Aristotle is the one that gave the name ‘spirit’ to the product of distillation. He thought that when he drank distilled wine or beer, they put ‘spirits’ into the body of the drinker.
However, this claim is quite suspect as if Aristotle was talking about spirits in the way we use it, he would’ve used the word ‘pneuma’, which is an ancient Greek word for ‘breath’, ‘spirit’, or ‘soul’. Pneuma is the most often translated word in the New Testament, meaning ‘Spirit’. But distillation of alcohol wasn’t common in ancient Greece anyway.
In the Middle East, there were Alchemists who were the first to master distillation. They were not only trying to find gold, but they were trying to make medical elixirs. To do this, they would distil liquid, collect the vapor, and then gather what they call the ‘spirit’ that came off it.
Roman Llull, who was a Franciscan monk, is one of the first people who used distillation purely for alcohol. In his journals. he is said to be the first to pen specific formulas for ‘loosening’ the alcohol from the wine.
Liquor is, in fact, a base alcohol that has the water physically taken out through the process of distillation, which increases the concentration of alcohol through evaporation. The alcohol is then condensed down. In more simple terms, the spirit of the liquor is leaving the lower alcohol base liquid, coming back in a purer form to drink. So in turn, we are drinking the spirit of the fermented liquid.
Alcohol and weight have always seemed to have a bad relationship. A glass of your favorite wine after work or a nightcap with an old friend are usually the first things to go when we begin a diet. However, research as to why alcohol should stop during diets isn’t as clear as anti-alcohol diets make out.
It is not always common knowledge that alcohol is loaded with calories. We subconsciously assume it isn’t as bad because it’s so easy to consume as opposed to eating a big burger or a plate of fries, but alcohol is just as bad- if not worse. The human body targets alcohol calories before the other calories (calories from extra ingredients in cocktails mainly)- the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which are stored in the body until needed. To balance out the calories, we need to exercise more or consume less of other calories.
On the other hand, it isn’t as simple as it seems. Studies show that drinking wasn’t associated with body mass index in men, and it actually had a zero to negative effect in women, meaning that some women who drank actually had less body mass index than women who didn’t. However, this study heavily relied on a specific age and drinking level. It relied on moderate drinking habits, meaning two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. It did not include heavy drinkers (four drinks a day for men, 3 drinks a day for women), who had a higher risk of obesity.
Through several studies and experiments, they found that two glasses of wine a night for men and one glass of wine a night for women did not increase weight gain. So maybe you can enjoy that glass of your favorite wine after work, after all!
Overall, the problem with studies on people is that everyone is different. It may be that for the majority of people, one to two glasses of wine a day will have no effect on weight gain, but for a minority, it might. It is all down to genetics, stress, eating patterns and exercise. In the end, it all comes down to alcohol and weight management. You just have to find what works for you, moderation is usually the answer.