Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Wine and Your Health: Is It Really That Bad For You?


Wine and its role in society has the tendency to split opinions. Much like people's attitudes to the latest British Eurovision entry, you either think it's nourishing to the soul or it's a dirge that makes you sick to your stomach (I traverse the two, if you really want to know...).

A couple of weeks ago you may have seen the news on the link between drinking and Cancer, as did I, and read with interest all the findings that came out of the studies from the US. However, it got me thinking. 

We all read and hear about the supposed 'evil' that drinking does to our health and how, if certain areas of society had their way, wine and all its alcohol-based friends would be banished to some hell based on milkshakes and watery squash, but rarely do we hear about the opposite.

What if, by some freaky turn of events, moderate drinking of wine was actually (dare I say it) 'good for you'?

So, after a bit of digging, a fair amount of reading and a whole lot of translating extremely difficult medical terminology, I found out some titbits that actually show that the odd tipple on a Tuesday could benefit you.

First off, its important to define what 'moderate drinking' is. The NHS website states that women should drink no more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day, and men should drink no more than 3-4 units. However, when we talk about moderate levels of consumption, 1-2 units a day (a standard 175ml glass of wine) is the measure of pleasure. So, drinking a bottle of your favourite Cab Sauv every day for the rest of your life will more than likely not be too good for your insides.

The 'miracle agent' contained within wine that is allegedly claimed to help our health is the perfectly pronounceable Resveratrol. This is a naturally occuring thing within fruit such as blueberries and raspberries, but also within grape skins, mostly red ones.

Photo: Elisa Maser (CCL)

Resveratrol, allegedly, has many positive benefits to the body, ranging from possibly protecting against dementia (a study by Loyola University Medical Centre about the link between the two, found that Resveratrol may be linked to reducing the stickiness of platelets, thus keeping the blood vessels open & flexible) and also helping the aftermath of strokes (research from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine  sought to show that both Resveratrol and alcohol in red wine help to cultivate an enzyme that protects nerve cells in the brain from damage), all the way through to helping control acne.

Resveratrol is also claimed to help prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer, contrary to the recent research.

The bonus to your health isn't just limited to red wine either. Research has been conducted into how white grapes could be just as good as red in helping to have a healthy heart, as the pulp of the grape is seen to have some helpful properties within it too.

As well as this weird little enzyme, there are the more traditional (and much talked about) anti-oxidants which are contained within our favourite drink, which supposedly help with the effects of ageing through keeping blood vessels healthy, enabling them to keep away the dreaded crows feet and wrinkled skin.

In addition to this, general moderate drinking of wine can help keep depression at bay, as was controversially stated in a Spanish study in 2013, where a glass of wine a day had certain links to mood and well-being.

So, after taking all of that in, I suppose what I'm trying to say, is that it's easy to get caught up in the soundbites and hard-hitting headlines, but maybe your body will, every now and again, thank you for that small glass of vino.

What's your point of view? Have your say on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below.

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