Putting the Wine in Wellness

Putting the Wine in Wellness

Cheers!

Isn’t it nice when something you love to partake in ends up being good for you? If you enjoy wine, you’re in luck—research on the medicinal benefits of this age-old beverage continues to pile up!

Hippocrates, the most famous ancient physician, noted, “Wine is fit for man in a wonderful way provided that it is taken with good sense by the sick as well as the healthy.” Even archaeochemical and other scientific testing continue to point to wine being used with medicinal herbs for treatment of many illnesses dating back to between the 4th and 6th centuries AD.

Currently, research indicatges that wine lowers mortality rates, protects the heart, reduces damaging effects to the skin, lowers the incidence of stroke and even lessens the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry describes that grapes and grape derivatives have a compound—a flavonoid—that helps protect the human body from disease and various types of aging. The antioxidant effect of wine works to fight damaging free radicals in the human body—boosting the levels of protection.

Some research pointing to the added benefits of consuming a moderate amount of wine (emphasis on moderate) is:

  • Wine may indeed be good for the gut: The American Journal of Gastroenterology reported that moderate consumption of wine (particularly red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent.
  • Evidence for brain protection was reported in the Neuroepidemiology of 1,416 people that showed brain function declining at a significantly faster rate in non-drinkers than in moderate drinkers of wine.
  • A study reported in Diabetes Care showed that moderate drinkers of wine have a 30 percent less risk than non-drinkers of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • The Journal of Gerontology reported a Finnish study of 2,468 wine drinking men over a 29-year period of time had a 34 percent lower mortality rate than that of beer drinkers.  
  • A study of women and their bones revealed that abstaining from alcohol, particularly wine, led to a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This study published in Menopause Journal found that modest drinking appeared to work just as well as bisphosphonates, a type of drug used by thousands of women to combat osteoporosis.
  • A study conducted by Columbia University of 3,176 moderate drinkers of wine over an eight-year period of time showed the possibility of suffering a blood clot-related stroke dropped by 50 percent.
  • Annals of Internal Medicine published a study conducted at Harvard School of Medicine of 11,711 men that were moderate drinkers of wine suffering from high blood pressure and found that they were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than non-drinkers.
  • Wine has even shown to lower the risk of sunburn! Researchers at the University of Barcelona revealed that the antioxidant effect of the grape helps protect the human skin from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation.  

The most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t take much wine to get positive health benefits. Many of the studies that show a medicinal effect of wine were performed with subjects drinking wine three to seven days a week, and as little as 10 to 20 grams of wine (about four to eight ounces). The quantity of wine consumed is important not only for the fact that too much leads to obesity and blood sugar imbalances, as well as intoxication and habituation. So the benefit is clearly based on moderate consumption.

Whether the research points to the anti-aging effects of wine, or the protective effects of age-related diseases, or even helping to slow brain decline, having a drink of wine and learning the art of wine tasting can be fun, eventful, social and just plain good for you!  

So the next time you have a glass of wine, think about the all-around benefits of this ancient medicinal beverage we are all so lucky to have in such good supply.

Cheers!
Nisha Jackson PhD, MS, WHCNP