Health + Fitness
13 Surprising Health Benefits From Drinking Wine
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle,” Paulo Coelho once said.
Although, the above quote seem to necessitate the need for drinking wine, there’s always that twinge of guilt whenever you’re scanning the wine section at the grocery store. Or maybe you feel it when you’re at a formal gathering and you’re craving that extra glass of wine. At restaurants, you shy away from ordering ta glass to go with your meal because you’re worried about your weight and diet. However, with the discovery of the benefits of wine, you can now confidently have that glass knowing that what flows from the bottle is more than just wine, but also an array of health benefits.
It should be noted that heavy or binge drinking is destructive and leads to a myriad of diseases. The health benefits we are going to discuss, only come through moderate consumption. A few glasses throughout the week will benefit the body rather than, guzzling down three bottles on a night out.
That leaves us to ponder on what “moderate’’ consumption really is. Fortunately, the American Heart Association (AHA) comes to our rescue for this question. The AHA says the health benefits come from “moderate wine consumption” and goes on to define it as one to two, four ounce glasses a day. Some doctors define ‘moderate’ consumption as one 5oz (150ml) glass of wine per day for women and two glasses per day for men. This distinction between men and women is based on scientific facts that women absorb alcohol more quickly than men due to their lower body water content. Apart from gender, what is defined as moderate levels of consumption may vary from individual to individual according to age, genetics, weight and body stature as well as, situational conditions such as food consumption and/or drug-use.
The health benefits of wine have not been discovered in isolation of other factors. They have been linked to healthy lifestyles of drinkers. Most drinkers are generally people who exercise regularly, diet, take walks and are non-smokers.
Long before the twenty first century, folks like Hippocrates; the father of western medicine, prescribed wine for a variety of ailments, including lethargy and diarrhea. Wine was also widely used as a disinfectant and cure for stomach ailments. Today, with leaps in science and technology, we now have a better understanding of the components that make wine so miraculous. Together, we will take a look at these benefits;
1) Resveratrol (a wonder component)
Resveratrol is a compound found in some plants. Plants produce resveratrol to fight off bacteria and fungi; it also protects plants from ultra violet radiation. In order to retain a high percentage of resveratrol in finished wine, the manner of production is essential. Red wine contains more resveratrol than white wine because it is fermented with the skins in a process known as maceration while white wine is not. Few epidemiological studies which detail the patterns and distribution of disease among populations have looked specifically at the association between red wine consumption and cancer risk in humans leaving an interesting puzzle to complete. Popular sources of resveratrol are red wine, grapes (most of the resveratrol in grapes are found in the seed and skin), blueberries, peanut, and raspberries.
Resveratrol has become the interest of growing research because of its immense benefits to the human body. Its presence in wine is said to promote weight loss, serve as an anti-aging compound, promote good eyesight and fight cancer (whose treatments of radiation and chemotherapy are expensive and take a toll on the body). According to www.cancer.gov, various researchers conducting studies using purified proteins, human cells, and lab animals have found that certain substances in resveratrol have anti-cancer properties. No wonder researchers are working round the clock to fully harness this compound and establish it as being effective in cancer prevention and treatment. Thus, a potential source of treatment could be wine and you can help yourself by sipping a resveratrol-rich wine.
2) Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
The prevalence of diabetes is what makes a large number of people conscious of their diet and weight. With an estimated 415 million people affected, a large percentage of them are affected by Type 2 Diabetes. Incorporating wine into one’s diet has been linked to a lowered risk of contracting type2 diabetes. A 2005 study presented to the American Diabetes Association by the Amsterdam VU University Medical Centre suggests that moderate consumption of wine may lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This study pooled together 369,862 people who were studied over an average of twelve years. Results from the study showed a reduced percentage risk in wine drinkers.
3) Reduces Gallstones
Consisting primarily of cholesterol, gall stones cause acute pain and discomfort. The positive effect of wine on the metabolism of cholesterol has been linked to a lower occurrence of gallstones among moderate drinkers. With cholesterol being the major component of gallstones, wine acts to aid the metabolism of cholesterol and prevent the occurrence of gall stones.
4) Reduces Cholesterol
High and unhealthy cholesterol levels are said to be precursors to various ailments. Increased awareness has led to more people scrutinizing labels trying to escape the wrath of food products which have high cholesterol. Studies have shown that moderate wine drinking can improve the balance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘’bad’’ cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” protein. The American Heart Association has weighed in on this subject by agreeing that consumption of any type of alcohol can increase HDL by about 12%.
5) Lowers the Risk of Heart Attack
Myocardial infarction popularly called heart attacks are a nightmare better imagined than experienced. The main cause of heart attacks is the lack of oxygen caused by blood cells and plaque build-up in the arteries. Apart from coronary artery disease, other causes are high blood pressure, obesity and poor diet. Regular intake of wine has been discovered to be a preventive measure against these attacks. The alcohol in wine has anti-coagulant properties that make the platelets in the blood less prone to stick together and reduces the level of fibrin protein that binds them together.
6) Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
The French have become an interesting case study on the viability of wine in reducing the occurrence of heart diseases. French people typically consume a diet rich in saturated fat, meals are filled with cheese and red meat. Despite this, the French have relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease. Statistics which suggest that high consumption of such fat is a risk factor for coronary heart disease have appeared contradictory in the face of data from the French population. This peculiarity has been linked to the wine drinking lifestyle of the French. Traditionally, meals are accompanied by a bottle of wine with France consuming an estimated 8.14 liters of wine per capita. This lifestyle trend has led to an increase in worldwide sales of wine and has been aptly termed the ‘’French paradox’’.
7) Promotes Longevity
Ikaria, an island of 99 square miles lies 30 miles off the western coast of Turkey. Home to almost ten thousand Greek nationals, it has become famous for its large population of aged people. The longevity of its inhabitants has been linked to regular drinking of homemade wine accompanied by healthy dietary patterns and a peaceful lifestyle. The Long life span of its inhabitants has been attributed to procyanidins, compounds which are commonly found in the red wine. Procyanidins are also said to be one of the factors behind the long life spans of people from the Southwest of France and Sardinia. Wines made traditionally by locals tend to have higher levels of this compound and this mode of production has been hailed as essential.
8) Promotes Weight Loss
For years, adverts like ‘lose weight without going to the gym’ have sounded like music to the ears of people trying to lose weight. However, the music has been off key as a majority of such adverts are fraudulent and founded on bogus claims. This may soon change as increasing research suggests that that resveratrol contained in red wine, nuts, and grapes improves heart, muscle and bone function the same way a gym workout does. The early effects have been seen in rodent testing where it has proved to be an effective antioxidant.
9) Reduces the Likelihood of Becoming Depressed
From broken relationships to job lay-offs, family tension, and other stresses, there are a lot of reasons to let your head droop and let go of yourself, but studies appear to show that regular consumption of wine in moderate over levels can keep you away from the cliff’s edge.
A group of researchers from Spain undertook a study on depression analyzing relationships between depression and wine intake. The study analyzed 2,683 men and 2,822 women over a seven-year period. Findings of the study revealed that those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol; 5 to 15g days were less likely to suffer from depression. Additionally, those who drank a moderate amount of wine on a weekly basis; 2 to 7 small glasses were found to have an even lower risk of depression. Results remained the same even when accounting for lifestyle and social factors such as marital status smoking and dieting.
10) Makes You Smarter
Can you bottle intelligence? Don’t be too quick to answer in the popular negative. New studies have shown links between wine consumption and intelligence quotient and a psychological edge.
Mortensen et al. (2001) revealed several psychological health benefits associated with drinking wine. The study going beyond the physical benefits, measured socio-economic status, education, intelligence quotient, personality, psychiatric symptoms and health-related behaviors which included alcohol consumption. Participants in the study group were broken down into beer drinkers and wine drinkers. They were also grouped into drinkers and non-drinkers. Test results showed that wine drinkers consistently scored higher IQ scores than their counterpart beer drinkers. The average difference in IQ between wine and beer drinkers was found to be 18 points. The study also found wine drinkers to operate at optimal levels as regards psychological functioning, personality, and other health-related behaviors.
If you think your wine selections do not give a clue to your history and upbringing, think again as results for both men and women showed that drinking wine was related to higher parental social status, parental education and social status of the subjects.
11) Good for the Eyes
Regular consumption of wine has been said to improve eyesight and prevent blinding diseases. The Washington University School of Medicine St Louis has been leading research on preserving vision and preventing blinding eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and retinopathy of prematurity. Resveratrol was found to inhibit angiogenesis; the formation of new blood vessels thus halting the development of various eye diseases. This study is still in the early stages with testing being done on mouse retinas with accompanying excellent results. If these studies prove conclusive, it will present a radical approach as drugs would be administered orally not as eye injections.
12) Reduces the Likelihood of Prostate Cancer
As we grow older, there is the fear that our bodies will begin to become more susceptible to terminal diseases and other ailments. Cancer has emerged as a worldwide killer with various variants and prostate cancer, which affects the prostate gland in men, heightens that fear. With over 90% of cases occurring in those above fifty, a regular intake of wine is fast replacing the proverbial daily apple.
Research in the Harvard Men’s Watch in 2007 seems to happily report that fact. Researchers have found that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52% as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine. For every additional glass of red wine by week, the relative risk declined by 6%. Flavonoids and resveratrol properties in red wine have been credited with this feat. These components have anti-oxidant properties and some appear to counter balance the activities of androgen which is the male hormone that stimulates the prostate.
13) Clearer Skin
The word is out! The answer to smooth and clear skin no longer comes in a tube. It now comes in a glass of wine. Studies show that antimicrobial properties present in resveratrol help to combat acne growth. An increase in potency was also reported when used with benzoyl peroxide a popular cream ingredient.
With continuous research being carried out on the amazing benefits of wine and applications in human life being sought, it won’t be long till wine starts playing a critical role in keeping the doctor away.