It’s very controversial in the U.S. to consider an alcoholic beverage as part of a healthy diet. Study after study has shown pretty conclusively that consuming wine daily (especially red wine) in moderation is healthy for you. Yes, there are many caveats and risks, but no more so than taking the majority of pharmaceutical drugs which often have side effects that are dangerous in themselves! Here are some basic points to consider:
1. Consume wine with meals.
Wine was meant to be enjoyed with food – period! Wine adds pleasure to the enjoyment of food and is much better for you than a can of soda. Generally, low in sugar, fat and calories (and protein for that matter), it enhances the flavor of food. The other benefit of eating and drinking together is food slows down the absorption of alcohol in your system, the two essentially bind together. Because of this fact, wine is actually a foodstuff and, assuming you drink it with food in moderation, can actually aid digestion, fight bacteria and other microbes and increase pleasure. The last fact is the one most ignored but should be taken into consideration. Unless you eat purely for nutrition or out of hunger, enjoyment of the consumption of food should be taken very seriously. If you’re brain is happy, then your body will follow, and just as in food, if you over-consume, you will feel the consequences later!
2. Consume wine every day
Again, the majority of studies suggest that consuming red wine is most effective if you drink it every day – again, in moderation. The term “moderation” is a bit controversial, because a few studies suggest that one glass per day for a woman and two glasses per day for a man are the optimal consumption, but this ignores many personal factors: your weight, metabolism, lifestyle and activity. I’m not a doctor, nor am I suggesting that I know the ultimate good or bad consequences on your body if you consume various amounts of red wine, but for myself, I seem to handler three to five glasses per day with no hangover, no residual cloudiness of mind function and no identifiable negatives. I recently had a complete physical and even my liver is working in good order – my cholesterol is a bit high, but I drink red wine, so I’m not concerned!
Some of the benefits mentioned of daily red wine consumption (I added daily, but again, that’s what the studies base their claims on!) are lower rates of heart disease, less chance of getting Diabetes, reduction in the severity of some forms of cancer, and less severe Alzheimers. Red wine has various anti-oxidants like resveratrol which are derived primarily from the skins of red grapes. Yes – you could simply eat red grapes – but some of the benefits also accrue from alcohol itself, so you would have to add a shot of liquor or two! Of course, there are some negative studies as well, but overall, many physicians today agree that red wine can be part of a healthy diet. As with all things, you will have to decide for yourself, but if you exercise and eat right, a few glasses of wine could be an added benefit.
3. All Things in Balance
The usual quote here is “all things in moderation” but that can be very misleading. Of course, you should consume wine “moderately”, but one person’s moderate is another person’s over-indulgence (or under). An added benefit of wine is that it promotes sleep. Americans tend to work until they’re exhausted and then they often find difficulty getting to sleep. In European countries, they have longer vacations and often take a daily nap which promotes a healthier lifestyle and less stress. Consuming wine in balance with the rest of your life means that it should be part of a healthy lifestyle which includes proper rest (power naps are very good for you!), stress-control and relaxation, and generally overall good health. The latter point is directed primarily to weight-control. The biggest health factor after stress itself is being overweight. If you balance your lifestyle, then you can have your glass of red wine, your power nap, a nice vacation, and be thin at the same time! Yes, wine promotes a good appetite, but it also enhances flavor which means you can eat less and enjoy your food more!
These were just some thoughts to post about wine and health during the post-Thanksgiving and holiday season when people tend to get out of balance a bit. Wine consumption is looked on critically by many people in America because it’s connected with alcohol, but you rarely hear anyone tell you enjoy your holidays in moderation. So here’s wishing you a holiday season – drink your red wine, EAT in moderation, and enjoy the company of others!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler