important public service announcement

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Over the holiday weekend, I received an important public service announcement from a health-minded friend. I pass it along to you, my fearless readers, knowing that ‘tis the season for massive consumption of refreshing beverages. Hopefully, this will save at least one of you from a potentially fatal error in judgment. It reads:

To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine (and those who don't and are always seen with a bottle of water in their hand…)

As Ben Franklin said:
In wine there is wisdom.
In beer there is freedom.
In water there is bacteria!

In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if you drink just one liter of water each day, at the end of the year you would have absorbed more than one kilo of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.

In other words, your annual feces consumption would equal one kilo of poop.

However, you do not run that risk when drinking wine (or beer, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc.) – because alcohol has gone through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

So, next time you are tempted to reach for that water bottle, remember:
Water = Poop.
Wine = Health.
Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.

1 comment:

Dave E said...

Hi Paul,

You know that you're joking and I know that too, but lest anyone take your post too seriously, let me make a few comments on this speculation:

1. It is true that Antony van Leeuenhoek discovered bacteria in the late 17th century and thus a very good chance that Benjamin Franklin knew of their existence. On the other hand Mr. Franklin, despite his charms, could not possibly have known about Escherichia coli (E. coli) because those were discovered only long after the good librarian and writer of almanacs died. In fact, E.Coli was discovered in 1885 by Theodor Escherisch.

2. E. coli is found in the intestines and feces of warm blooded animals and some strains can cause very serious, even fatal ailments. What many tend to forget when measuring the number of bacteria (E. coli or other) is that the vast majority of these bacteria, regardless of their name, are absolutely harmless to human beings. In fact some strains of E. coliproduce vitamin K2 and prevent the development of certain other pathogenic bacteria in the intestines.

3. As to bacteria in general, wine is hardly free of these. Happily, most of those found in wine are neutral in their effect on humans - for example, the bacteria involved in malolactic "fermentation". Wine also has the happy trait of containing several probiotic bacteria and, as anyone in the yoghurt business these days can tell you, there ain't nuttin better for you than probiotic bacteria.

4. Also worth keeping in mind that one of the reasons that many wines are free of harmful bacteria is the used of sulfites as those control the development of those bacteria in the wine.

5. Switching back to water – most modern water supply systems are far better and more bacteria free than the taste of the water might imply. For the statistic quoted above to be true, there would have to be almost 3 grams of E. Coli bacteria in each liter of water you drink. I could see that being the case in stagnant pond water, but there's no possible way that you'd find anywhere near that amount in any sort of drinking water, once it was filtered and chlorinated. There might be a good deal of rust in your pipes, but harmful bacteria in the water supply are not usually a major concern in modern societies. And, when the water supply system does become contaminated for a short period of time, especially by harmful strains of E. Coli, warnings are posted just about everywhere.

In short, enjoy your wine, but drink plenty of water before, during and after. Your head will thank you for it in the morning!

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