All About Wine: The Health Benefits and Risks

 

9-Surprising-Benefits-Of-Red-Wine.jpg

Do you know what’s really in a bottle of wine? Is wine healthy, or a health hazard? The article post below discusses the beneficial components of wine and how additives and commercialization have turned many wines into unhealthy processed foods. It also explores whether traditional wine is as healthy as countless headlines today report as well as links to current research.

Polyphenols fight disease

Almost every positive health benefit from consuming wine is attributed to polyphenols, a class of more than 8,000 compounds produced by plants. During winemaking, fermentation, oxygen exposure, and oak barrel aging change the phenolic content of grapes, resulting in a more complex product. Polyphenols are divided into flavonoids and non-flavonoids, based mostly on chemical structure. Flavonoids include compounds such as catechins, epicatechins, proanthocyanidins, condensed tannins, anthocyanins, and quercetin. The most talked about non-flavonoid is resveratrol, but this category also includes phenolic alcohols and ellagitannins.

Polyphenols are good for our health for several reasons. First, as antioxidants, they reduce the burden of oxidative stress, which is at the root of many diseases. Second, they neutralize free radicals, which are very unstable and damage body tissues through volatile chain reactions. Furthermore, polyphenols help our guts by increasing beneficial bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

Health benefits of wine consumption

Red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine (200 mg per glass vs. 30 mg per glass), as red winemaking also includes the skin of grapes. Although many health benefits have been shown for both types of wine, red wine has consistently been proven more beneficial than other types of alcohol.

Antioxidant/anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of wine consumption, not just of individual polyphenols, are probably at the root of red wine’s health benefits. Red wine consumption significantly increased total plasma antioxidant status in both younger and older people in a two-week crossover study. Two glasses of red wine every day for a week improved participants’ antioxidant enzyme expression and activity in blood. In healthy women, red wine decreased the levels of several inflammatory markers and cellular adhesion molecules in another crossover study.

Cardiovascular disease. Red wine was hypothesized as one reason for the “French Paradox,” the supposed “contradiction” of lower cardiovascular disease in France despite higher saturated fat intake. However, it seems that drinking red wine does have heart benefits. Red wine has been shown to both raise HDL “good” cholesterol and reduce oxidized LDL “bad” cholesterol. In addition, moderate red wine drinkers had lower blood pressure, although other studies have reported the opposite. After consuming Sicilian red wine for four weeks, inflammatory biomarkers of atherosclerosis were lowered. In a large prospective study, red wine drinkers had significantly lower mortality from coronary heart disease than non-wine drinkers.

Cognitive/brain. The brain consumes 15 to 20 percent of the body’s oxygen, despite its relatively small size, which makes it highly susceptible to oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that moderate wine consumption, with its antioxidant properties, can have positive effects on brain health. In a seven-year follow-up study, moderate wine drinkers performed better than people who consumed other types of alcohol on cognitive tests. In women, alcohol abstainers actually scored lower on the tests than wine consumers! Brain function declined more quickly in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers, from a review of studies spanning 19 countries. Prospective studies demonstrate lower risks of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease in those who drink red wine regularly.

Gut/microbiome. Still another study showed that two glasses of red wine per day increase levels of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus, compared to gin consumption, which showed no benefits. Bacteroides, another beneficial gut bacteria, were positively associated with red wine consumption. Natural wines that aren’t aggressively filtered or fermented with commercial yeast strains contain their own probiotics similar to what you find in fermented vegetables and dairy products.

Cancer. Individually, polyphenols found in wine, such as resveratrol and anthocyanin demonstrate anticancer activity by inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and inducing cancer cell death. Polyphenol-rich wine may offer similar anticancer benefits. Compared to non-wine drinkers, those who regularly consumed moderate amounts of wine had lower overall cancer mortality, according to another study. In contrast to beer and liquor drinkers, wine consumers had a 40 percent lower risk for both esophageal and gastric cancers, hinting again that there is something special about wine among alcoholic beverages.

Mortality rate. Wine consumption is linked to overall lower mortality. A large study of nearly 25,000 people from 20 to 98 years old found that those who consumed moderate amounts of wine had lower all-cause mortality compared to non-drinkers. The Copenhagen City Heart Study from Denmark followed more than 13,000 adults for 11 years and found that those who drank three to five glasses of wine per day had a lower risk of dying than both spirit drinkers and alcohol abstainers.

Health risks of wine consumption

Now for the bad news. Red wine isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Ethanol is a poison and poses some serious health risks.

Glutathione depletion. Glutathione is crucial for the detoxification of many harmful substances. Because it is required for detoxing ethanol, alcohol consumption can deplete glutathione, making our bodies more susceptible to toxic substances and disease.

Liver damage. When the liver detoxes ethanol, it is first broken down into acetaldehyde, an even more harmful poison that can stick around if your detox capacity is impaired. If you drink too much, your liver (and other body organs) will suffer. Fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and, after long-term heavy drinking, cirrhosis are all downstream effects of chronic alcohol use.

Addiction. Not everyone who drinks will develop a bad habit, but alcohol can be very addictive. Although less addicting that nicotine and crystal meth, alcohol is more addicting than heroin, amphetamine, cocaine, and caffeine.

Depression. Moderate drinking is linked to lower incidence of depression, but heavy drinking increases the risk. Substance abuse in general is correlated with mental health problems.

Gut disruption. Ethanol can further the symptoms of leaky gut. Alcohol damages the gut and causes changes in the gut microbiome, increasing the absorption of pro-inflammatory endotoxins. The polyphenols in red wine may help to offset some of the pro-inflammatory effects imparted by alcohol. Residual sugar (which fortunately is found only in very, very low doses in biodynamic, natural wines) is detrimental to gut health. Sugar can feed unhealthy microbes and other pathogens, leading to gut dysbiosis.

Breast cancer. As stated earlier, a lower cancer incident is associated with moderate red wine consumption. However, even at low levels of consumption, alcohol intake may increase the risk of breast cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Countless other health risks are attributed to or related to alcohol consumption. For example, although drinking alcohol can increase HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol,” it simultaneously increases triglyceride levels, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Who should avoid alcohol

Now let’s return to the question from the beginning of the article. Is wine healthy, or a health hazard? The answer, I believe, is highly individual and depends on a variety of factors. Alcohol in general, including red wine, may not be a good choice for some people.

Genetics. Genes can play a huge role. Alcoholism is a serious illness with a strong genetic component. If there is a history of alcohol abuse in your family, avoiding alcohol altogether is probably the most prudent choice. Those with certain genetic polymorphisms in alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenases, common in people with East Asian ancestry, may also want to avoid alcohol. These variants put them at higher risks of cancer, liver damage, and more because of their inability to detox aldehyde proficiently.

Sulfur-sensitive people. These individuals, estimated to include 1 percent of the population, shouldn’t drink wine due to the sulfites contained either naturally or added. One thing to keep in mind is that dried fruits often have much higher levels of sulfites than wine. So, if you tolerate dried fruit well but have trouble after drinking wine, it might not be due to the sulfites.

Those who take any medications. Prescription or not, these persons should be cautious about any potential interactions with alcohol. Some medications can enhance the effects of alcohol, some can cause extreme drowsiness when combined with alcohol, and others can interfere with or change a medication’s effectiveness. This might be a no-brainer, but alcohol should be avoided when trying to conceive or while pregnant. Some evidence shows that alcohol can negatively impact fertility, especially for males. The CDC states that no safe level of alcohol exists for pregnant women. Although French women still drink lightly during pregnancy, and some research has suggested that light drinking may not be problematic for the fetus, I would play it safe here. A baby’s body metabolizes alcohol much more slowly than does an adult’s. If you suffer from asthma, have a blood disorder, or have liver or detoxification issues, avoiding all alcohol is probably the best choice.

How to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks

If you aren’t a wine drinker, I see no real reason to start. Instead, eat a variety of rich-colored fruits and vegetables to get a wide mixture of polyphenols. Try to include other fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kefir, into your diet. Cooking with red wine is also an option. The alcohol will evaporate, but beneficial polyphenols will remain to an extent.

If you are a wine drinker, try taking it out of your diet for 30 days. Then, add back in natural, organic wine, at moderate levels to see how you feel. If your sleep and mood are unaffected, then moderate wine consumption is probably doing you more good than harm, in terms of health benefits and enjoyment.

Adapted from: Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Storage Rules! Store eggs in their carton and dairy products inside the fridge, not on the door, which is the warmest part of the fridge.

Daily Inspiration 

18102017_13860070-min.jpg

 

 

Tips to help build resilience and better handle diabetes

17283936ce521c75c06ad955c4d8212e.jpg

Resilience is the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, etc. Characteristics associated with resilience include optimism, an active or adaptable coping style, and the ability to tap into social support. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2011 showed that high levels of resilience were significantly related to lower HbA1c levels indicating better glycemic control. Another study with similar results was published in the British Journal of Health Psychology in 2008. It showed that those with low and moderate resilience levels showed a strong association between rising distress and worsening HbA1c results. Those with high resilience scores didn’t show this same association.

Some people are lucky enough to be born with a high level of resilience, but even if you’re not one of them, there are things you can do to boost your resilience. The American Psychological Association offers the following 10 suggestions for building resilience:

  • Make connections: Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important.
  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable: You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to them. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be better.
  • Accept that change is part of living: Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that can’t be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  • Move toward your goals: Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals.
  • Take decisive actions: Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery: People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.
  • Nurture a positive view of self: Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
  • Keep things in perspective: Even when facing painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook: An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
  • Take care of yourself: Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly.

Living with a chronic disease such as diabetes can be stressful and demanding. Arm yourself with the power of resilience!

Adapted from: By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.

Tip of the Day

Make it work for you! Healthy eating is about what works for you and your life. Keep in mind that small changes add up to big successes over time.

Daily Inspiration 

cb425bd5670d290b0ee92a00b2e414f0.jpg

 

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

~Edgar Albert Guest

Tip of the Day

Use whole grains in a classic dish! Try a rice and beans dish with brown rice or use whole-grain couscous, quinoa, or bulgur instead.

Choose My Plate

Daily Inspiration 

Be filled with the Spirit, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ Ephesians 5:18-20