Have you read the many articles documenting the exceptional health of people living in France and the Mediterranean? They seem to have something in common - they drink wine nearly every day.
Does this mean red wine will improve health and longevity for you and me?
It's true that many studies published over many decades have shown red wine to have positive effects on health. When consumed in small amounts it may even be considered a superfood.
The health benefits come from its powerful antioxidants including quercetin and resveratrol. These are shown to protect the heart, brain, and regulate blood sugar. The result is impressive benefits including:
- Improved Heart Health
- Lower Blood Sugar
- Weight Management
- Boosted Brain Function
- Diminishing Disease Risk
- Decreased Stress Levels
Sound too good to be true?
Don't run out and to the liquor store quite yet. The amount, timing, and type of wine you choose make a difference between getting these benefits and suffering the downside of consuming alcohol. Here are the things we must consider:
Drink Only in Moderation
Alcohol itself can damage the brain and liver over time. In addition, studies show a link between increased wine consumption and increased risk for breast cancer.
Therefore, limiting all alcohol consumption including wine is important to mitigate these side effects. Experts suggest moderate consumption, which means limiting wine to 1-2 glasses a day and no more than 5 glasses in a week.
Look Out for Additives
In addition to the alcohol content, other ingredients can result in negative side effects. Unlike the food industry, winemakers are not required to list these added ingredients on the bottle.
Aroma enhancers, stabilizers, clarifying agents, and sulfites are used to purify, enhance flavor, and extend the shelf life of wine. Many experiences adverse effects from these additives including skin irritation, flushing, abdominal pain, and an increased "hangover" effect.
Choose Lower Sugar Option
The high sugar content of many wines can wreck havoc on blood sugar and cause inflammation - basically negating the cardiovascular, cognitive, and weight management benefits of wine.
Technically, the fermentation processes should absorb the sugar from the grapes, but some cheaper wines don't complete the fermentation process or add sugar back in. A dry wine will be lowest in sugar content and you can even find low sugar options from companies such as Dry Farm Wine.
Time Your Wine Consumption
Anytime we consume alcohol our body prioritizes metabolizing it first. So, when you drink before a meal the food you consume is more likely to be stored as fat while your body burns through alcohol.
Therefore, the best time for a glass of wine is as an after-dinner drink. Additionally, it helps release a calming neurotransmitter that reduces stress at the end of a hard day. However, don't let that glass of wine et too close to bedtime because it will interrupt the quality of your sleep.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Clearly, there are pros and cons to drinking red wine. I think the key is making wine an occasional part of a healthy lifestyle. Remember - less than 5 glasses a week.
This type of light drinking is shown to lower coronary artery risk in addition to other health conditions. However, don't forget there are many other ways to improve your cardiovascular, brain and metabolic health. So, if you don't already drink there is no reason to start!
Before you decide to add wine to your wellness arsenal, be sure you are exercising regularly (at least 30 minutes a day), eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, consuming healthy fats daily, and getting enough sleep.
If you are having difficulty making these healthy habits a part of your lifestyle click the link below to speak with an expert who can help for free.