Wine and Health

Louis Pasteur claimed, “Wine is the most healthful of beverages.”

Its only in the 1970s and 1980s that people started to introspect the (dis)advantages of wines. In earlier times wine was considered healthier than water. Isn't that news? - was to me. This is because the alcohol and acidity contained in wine acts as an inhibitor to the growth of any harmful micro-organisms which can cause illness and disease. This doesn't imply that we should all stop drinking water and replace it with wine. :) It implies that wine does have benefits, but we need to understand its behaviour in different situations.

There's a French paradox about wine - How come the French who consume large quantities of fat in their diets and smoke numerous cigarettes suffer less incidence of heart attacks than anywhere else, and on average live 2-2.5 years longer.

The answer to this - They have a relaxed environment at mealtimes along with moderate consumption of wine.

Surprised ??? Well I was. I definitly agree that a relaxed environment is good -health-wise - less strain on your heart plus eating slowly aids in efficient absorption and metabolism of fats, but Wine???

Well, the answer came from the fact that most wines are made from grapes and grapes have phenols. These little compounds have high antioxidant properties. One kind of phenolic compounds are believed to prevent the oxidation of Darth Vader Cholesterol. Anther phenol - Quercetin, is said to be a powerful anti-carcinogenic. Quercetin is able to inhibit the development of the cancer gene. It is usually found in garlic and onions but is also present in wine. Studies have shown that incidences of intestinal and stomach cancers are lower in diets high in the consumption of foods containing Quercetin.

But wine is not for everyone and everyone is not for wine.

One downside to wine consumption is that it can elevate triglyceride levels, which is associated with health problems such as diabetes. Those who already have high triglycerides should avoid or limit their wine consumption.

Studies have shown that alcohol can increase estrogen levels and raise tumor progression in women with (or at high risk for) estrogen-positive breast cancer.

People who suffer from migranes have their migrane triggered by a substance called 5-hydroxytryptamine which is also present in red wines and so such people should stay away from red wines. In the same manner people with asthma know that sulphur triggers it. Most wines contain a level of sulphites that are generally okay for asthma sufferers to consume, but you should consult your doctor first.

On the other hand, if you are likely to suffer from osteoporosis (weak bones) then it may do you good to indulge in moderate wine consumption as a little wine can help protect against it. However, drink too much and you will make things worse, as heavy drinkers with unhealthy lifestyles are at a much bigger risk of developing osteoporosis. Plus it is now agreed by many medical authorities that people who consume wine at a moderate level are less likely to suffer coronary heart disease than both - those who drink heavily and those who never drink. Once again lets reiterate that drinking heavily can result in a heart attack.

The key is Drink regularly in moderation. So how much is moderation? Here in the US the level regarded as moderate consumption would allow for 25gms of alcohol per day giving a weekly total of 175gms. But you need to remember that we all hold different views on the levels of drinking which we regard as moderate consumption. Some of us can hold our drink better than others and some of us are unable to drink a glass without feeling the effects. We should remember that the ability to metabolise alcohol varies from one person to another so those with a lower lean body mass should consume less than those of a higher level.

I got most of this information from this UK based site, which talks about UK statistics but the (dis)advantages of wine would still be the same.

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