Wine And Health
Wine And Health,Benefits Are Not Without Cautions...
The medical profession has recognized the healthful and nutritive
properties of wine for thousands of years. Hippocrates
recommended specific wines to purge fever, disinfect and dress wounds,
as diuretics, or for nutritional supplements, around 450 B.C. A
French doctor wrote the earliest known printed book about wine around
Most of the pathogens that threaten humans are inhibited or killed
off by the acids and alcohols in wine. Because of this, wine was
considered to be a safer drink than much of the available water
up until the 18th century.
Wine is a mild natural tranquilizer, serving to reduce anxiety and tension.
As part of a normal diet, wine provides the body with energy, with
substances that aid digestion, and with small amounts of minerals
and vitamins. It can also stimulate the appetite. In addition, wine
serves to restore nutritional balance, relieve tension, sedate and
act as a mild euphoric agent to the convalescent and especially
Although wine may be the oldest remedy and prophylactic still in
use, there was an entire generation of medical professionals, especially
in America, that obtained their medical education during the historical
period known as Prohibition. Medical texts for nearly twenty-five
years were purged and censored of any mention of alcohol, including
wine, for any application other than external. This medical generation
became educators to the following one, perpetuating medical ignorance
of the potential health benefits of wine.
In the 1970s, the National Institute
of Health excluded and suppressed evidence from the Framingham Heart Study
that showed moderate drinkers had 50 per cent fewer deaths from coronary
disease than non-drinkers.
Only when the television news magazine "60 Minutes" reported
in November, 1991, the phenomenon that has come to be known as the French
Paradox did popular thinking of wine as medicine rather than toxin begin
to return. Typically, the diet of people in Southern France includes a
very high proportion of cheese, butter, eggs, organ meats, and other fatty
and cholesterol-laden foods. This diet would seem to promote heart disease,
but the rate there was discovered to be much lower than in America; herein
lies the paradox.
Regular moderate wine drinking
was discovered to be one prominent factor. Studies in England and Denmark
found the occurrence of coronary disease to be much higher in heavy or
binge drinkers and (surprise!) even higher in abstainers. It is very important
to note that Europeans generally drink wine and water with their meals,
while Americans drink milk, iced tea, soft drinks, or coffee. (See "RX
for Society: Wine and Water")
Moderate consumption of red wine
on a regular basis may be a preventative against coronary disease and
some forms of cancer. The chemical components thought to be responsible
are catechins, also known as flavanoids. Catechins are believed to function
as anti-oxidants, preventing molecules known as "free-radicals"
from doing cellular damage. There are also compounds in grapes and wine
(especially red wine, grape juice, dark beers and tea, but absent in white
wine, light beers and spirits) called resveratrol and quercetin. Clinical
and statistical evidence and laboratory studies have shown these to boost
the immune system, block cancer formation, and possibly protect against
heart disease and even prolong life.
A Harvard study of factors that
influence aging, as reported in the May 8, 2003, issue of the journal
Nature, has shown that resveratrol extends the life span of yeast cells
by 80%. Preliminary results of tests on multi cellular animals are said
to be encouraging; study co-author David Sinclair told Reuters News Agency
that "Not many people know about it yet, but those who do have almost
invariably changed their drinking habits, that is, they drink more red
Another recent study, published in the 2004 year-end edition of the American
Journal of Physiology, indicates that resveratrol also inhibits
formation of a protein that produces a condition called cardio fibrosis,
which reduces the heart's pumping efficiency when it is needed most,
at times of stress.
More evidence suggests that wine dilates the small blood vessels
and helps to prevent angina and clotting. The alcohol in wine additionally
helps balance cholesterol towards the good type. Wine might even
preserve cognitive function in the elderly. Several European studies
have shown the prophylactic effects of regular light to moderate
alcohol consumption may include the prevention or postponement of
Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other forms of dementia. Could wine
be the original brain food?
A study published in January, 2003,
in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that moderate, regular
drinkers of wine or beer decreases the risk of peptic ulcers and may help
to rid the body of the bacteria suspected of causing them. Both over consumption,
especially of beer, and any regular consumption of spirits at even a low
level, increased the risk.
The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a 14-year study of over
100,000 women, aged 25 to 42, from 14 states. The Nurses Health
Study required participants to complete a questionnaire every two
years, detailing lifestyle choices and diagnoses of any medical
The subjects were categorized into three levels of alcohol consumption.
After factoring in such variables as family histories of diabetes
and smoking habits, the study found that women who drank regularly
and moderately (one or two drinks per day, a total of 15 to 30 grams
of alcohol) had a 58% lower likelihood of developing diabetes. Both
those levels that drank more or that drank less had a 20% lower
risk than either abstainers or former drinkers. When preferences
for types of alcohol were compared, those who chose beer and wine
shared similar levels of risk, but those in who drank spirits and
consumed more than 30 grams per day had a 150% higher risk to develop
diabetes than even non-drinkers.
Other medical studies point to
multiple benefits of regular moderate wine drinking that may include lowered
risks of stroke, colorectal tumors, skin and other types of cancers, senile
dementia, and even the common cold, as well as reduce the effects of scarring
from radiation treatments.
Over 400 studies worldwide, many
of them long-term and in large populations, have concluded that most healthy
people who drink wine regularly and moderately live longer. The single
group exception, whose members should not consume any alcohol, is pre-menopausal
women with a family history of breast cancer. The keys to the beneficial
aspects are regularity and moderation. Overindulgence can be considerably
more harmful than total abstinence.
The 3rd International Wine &
Heart Health Summit, held March 2-5, 2005, in Napa Valley, shared the
latest information and findings.
For more information visit this url: