Partly due to the new year and partly due to the odd recent health scare, I’ve taken a critical look at my lifestyle recently. We discuss this with friends and I also get comments from other people and it’s lead me to some pretty unpleasant conclusions. I always blamed everything on stress due to overwork as I’ve worked seven days a week for the last eleven years with the odd holiday, only having a day off on Christmas Day (which is more stressful than work anyway) and New Year’s Day – which was a day off!

I’ve been constantly tired, stressed and over weight. But why? I didn’t eat breakfast, most days I’d work through lunch and either eat nothing at all or possibly get a sandwich around 3pm. I’d only eat a decent meal once a day in the evening, usually washed down by a bottle of wine.

However, since I did a bit of research, I’m now eating breakfast every day, stopping for lunch and eating in the evening. I’m eating far more but losing weight (and fat!). I’m now exercising – something I didn’t get time for before, cutting out unhealthy fast foods and reducing my alcohol intake. I feel and look much better and have more energy. 11 more years of this and I’ll be back to normal!

But seriously, the one big issue this did throw up is ‘what am I actually eating and drinking’? I’ve concluded that I’ve been steadily poisoning myself with processed foods and over chemicalled processed drinks for years. This was highlighted in the Channel 4 programme Dispatches when they revealed the cocktail of potent chemicals put into factory produced wines. If the same regulations were applied to wine as food these ‘wines’ would legally have to have over 40 different chemicals on the back label. According to Malcolm Gluck, there are over 80 different chemicals added to some cheap branded South African wines!

It’s exactly the same with food, although the producers get around the labelling issue by listing E numbers rather than the chemicals’ names. E220 or E227 doesn’t sad too bad does it? Well it can if you’re asthmatic. E227 is banned in Australia but is widely used by various countries to preserve tinned vegetables for the Asian export market where it’s not illegal. I heard recently of someone having an allergic reaction to a tinned mushroom (containing E228) and actually dying, only to luckily be revived by a passer by several times, who managed to keep reviving him till medical help arrived.

These allergic reactions have been largely ignored by the corporations and governments in the interest of profit. Did you know the percentage of children with allergies in developing countries like India is around 2%? But in the last 40 years in Australia – since the introduction of processed foods and E numbers – it has increased from 2% to 30%! Is that coincidence? What about the increase in stomach and throat cancers?

More and more people like myself are looking to cut out the additives. I won’t drink UK brewed lagers anymore because they’re pumped full of chemicals. As well as the nasty long term effects they also give horrendous hangovers. Most people associate a hangover with drinking too much alcohol, but this isn’t the case. It’s not the alcohol that gives you the hangover it’s the other chemicals present in the drinks. I regularly drink 7 pints of Dortmunder at my friend’s restaurant. It’s brewed in Germany to the purity laws, and although it’s a hefty 5% abv, and I do get a bit tipsy, I don’t get any hangover whatsoever and I feel great in the morning.

It’s the same with wine. I can drink one glass of a brand like Blossom Hill or Kumala, and it makes me feel physically sick. The amounts of chemicals that are legally allowed in these wines are frankly shocking –  and that’s legally allowed remember. There was an instance recently in Australia where one wine had a remarkable 17 times the legal limit of sulphites in it! That’s enough to kill an asmathic person stone dead on the spot!

I drink only good wine, made naturally by people who have a passion for what they produce. No adverse effects whatsoever, even if I over indulge and have 3 bottles! More people are doing the same, cutting out this branded rubbish which should contain a government health warning, and switching to naturally made wines. They’re readily available, with one website specialising in top quality low sulphite wines. Their prices are highly competitive, they have an excellent selection and offer next day delivery, so there really is no need to keep drinking this mass produced dross – and no need for any more hangovers!