Mixed Drinks and Sucrose
Distilled spirits are alcoholic beverages distilled from grains, fruits, or other fermentable ingredients. There are six basic distilled spirits, including brandy, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, and vodka. These six spirits are used to create most mixed drinks.
Every distilled spirit begins with fermentation. This process is similar to that of making beer or wine. The process of fermentation begins by adding yeast to a mixture of water and a fermentable substance. The fermentable substance in many cases is a type of sugar. The yeast is then able to convert the sugars into alcohol.
Each type of spirit can have different primary fermentable ingredients, which produce different types of spirits. For example, the sugar containing substance used to produce tequila is the agave plant, while fermented potatoes are used to produce some types of vodka.
The six basic distilled spirits do not contain sucrose, as the sugar-containing substance is metabolized by the yeast during the fermentation process. But things tend to get a bit tricky for those with Sucrose Intolerance due to Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID). CSID is a reduction in the ability to produce the enzymes needed to digest sucrose, and maltose or isomaltose. The symptoms of CSID can vary in type and severity, but in general cause diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and bloating. When the basic distilled spirits are combined with other ingredients to create mixed drinks, sucrose is usually present. While Long Island iced teas, margaritas, and mojitos are off the table for those with CSID, there are some low-sucrose options.
Tonic water mixed with a distilled spirit can be a good low-sucrose option for those with CSID. While tonic water does contain carbohydrates, the sugar used in tonic water is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS does not contain sucrose. In fact, the most common HFCS is HFCS-55, which is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Another mixed drink option for those with CSID begins by choosing any of the six basic distilled spirits, then combining it with sugar-free sparkling water or muddling it with lemons or limes.
While the six main distilled spirits do not contain sucrose and while it is possible to order a low-sucrose mixed drink, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the gut will be happy about it. The American College of Gastroenterology states that alcohol can relax the muscles of the stomach, which can cause stomach contents to leak out and cause symptoms. Alcohol can also directly irritate the tissues of the esophagus and make the stomach produce more acid, which can lead to symptoms of heartburn.
Regardless of a CSID diagnosis, the CDC recommends sticking to a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Moreover, the general recommendation is that drinking less is better for overall health.
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