Wine is serious.

France

A little intro: everyone knows – I enjoy exploring wine a lot! But this time, I won’t talk about my experiences. I actually made a little research about wine and health and here I provide you with the outcome. So if you’re still wondering if wine is good for you – stop and read! I’m tellin’ ya! Voila.

IS WINE A REAL DANGER FOR HEALTH?

Wine – a sacred blood for Christians, the savior for Alexander Macedonian empire when the water was too polluted to drink and a remedy in medieval hospitals is a world’s oldest documented human-made medicine. However, it has been causing discussions for ages. Actually, no, not for ages. Earlier nobody ever doubted wine’s benefits to health and even tend to overestimated them. But changing attitudes and medical research awoken new disputes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. So what is the reality? Is wine dangerous for our health or maybe it can even heal us? Let’s dig deeper into science and find out more, what scholars can really prove and what they cannot.

Wine is a spirit

Not a holy one though. Wine is defined as an alcoholic drink because for sure it contains an active ingredient – alcohol (except for non – alcoholic wines, but to be fair – who drinks that?). Thus, the beloved liquid has to be fairly treated as any other drink containing alcohol proof. Scholars have argued that small quantities of spirit consumption doesn’t do any harm for human body and even has some positive effects. These effects are referred to decreased risk of heart deceases, strokes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cancer. However, when it is not consumed in moderation, wine as any other relaxing drink causes high blood pressure, increases risk of heart deceases, same old strokes and many other very undesired side effects. Even more, people who consume large amounts of alcohol are more violent and cause a considerably larger amount of accidents. But we are not here to talk about alcoholism, are we? What we are referring to is a moderate and rational approach towards wine. Few glasses to accompany your dinner table and maybe one more before you go to sleep… Mhmm. I guess we should get more accurate. How much is enough and how much it too much? Let’s go look it up.

Drinking with moderation

It is obvious, that people are different and some of us cope with alcohol better than others. This is the reason why there is no exact amount of alcohol or, in this case – wine, which is suitable for everyone. People differ from one another in terms of age, rase, gender, genetics, weight and body structure, health and food consuming habits. Accordingly, some of us can drink more or less than others. Studies show that women in general are more affected by alcohol as their body absorbs it quicker than men. It happens because women have lower contents of body water. Thus, ladies and madams should be consuming fewer amounts of wine or any other alcoholic drink. But let’s get precise. Experts claim that 1 glass of wine per day for women is totally OK and might be even healthy. As for men, (they’re more lucky) the good amount is two glasses. In here, we refer to a glass as the measure, which contains 150 ml of liquid and not more. So be careful, don’t think that any size of glass is good for your treatment! Even in ancient societies, the traces of advised moderate consumption can be found. A Greek play written in 375 BC says:

Three bowls do I mix for the temperate: one to health, which they empty first, the second to love and pleasure, the third to sleep. When this bowl is drunk up, wise guests go home. The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence; the fifth to uproar, the sixth to drunken revel, the seventh to black eyes, the eighth is the policeman’s, the ninth belongs to biliousness, and the tenth to madness and hurling the furniture.

But what about some cultural patterns?

Yes, moderation has always been important and still is. By the way, don’t get excited about mentioned three bowls. People in ancient Greece used to mix wine with water, thus the amount was exceeded to 3 cups but actually, kinda stayed the same as we discussed before. But then again you can say: I’ve heard that Italians drink much more than a glass a day and that French can live only by drinking wine. Well, there are some interesting facts about cultural patterns of wine consumption. And one of them is even highly researched. Apparently, French people do not eat very healthy as their diet consists of mostly high fat and dairy products, which haven’t ever been associated with great health. However, they have extremely low occurrence of cardiovascular deceases. The phenomena is nowadays called a French paradox and has attracted lots of scholarly attention. As far as I’ve noticed, people in France eat a lot of: 1) bread and other foods made of flour 2) cheese and dairy products 3) sugar, because they actually eat deserts every day! So how come they are so skinny and relatively healthy compared to other nations which live on similar diets like British or American? Well, that is exactly what French paradox is referring to. The wine consumption! Scientists are brave enough to claim that moderate consumption of red wine in this case is a risk-reducing factor for French people and it is very likely that exactly wine saves them from exhausting diseases. Okay okay, we shouldn’t get too excited. This is not yet proved scientifically and the phenomena is still under the need for more detailed studies.

Italians are also a part of it. „Wine is the secret of life“ – says an italiano during an interview. Apparently, people from Italy live longer and seem to be enjoying healthy lifestyle till their very old days on the contrary to any other European country. It seems that it all could be blamed on so called Mediterranean diet, which has been well praised recently for it’s benefits to health. It consists of high vegetable and fruit consumption, oil, seeds, fish and sea fruit so as… red wine of course. No wonder, as Italians drink 6 times more wine than British, however, they never get drunk and they always consume alcohol with their food9. And it’s not only about living longer there, it’s about living well. But once again, nothing is actually proven. These are just observations and some could argue, that it has nothing to do with wine consumption whatsoever.

So what’s the latest?

Voilà. In order to generalize all the facts, it should be mentioned that wine is actually associated to many health benefits and it has been like this forever (dating back to the ancient Egypt and Sumeria). Experts claim that moderate drinking of wine showcases such benefits as better digestion, decreased chances of cardiovascular diseases, improved memory and even anti-aging . Nevertheless, none of these hypothesis have been scientifically proved yet. In this case, I’d still think that we should rely on clear mind and simple common sense. Everything what makes you happy is good for you. AND more importantly – everything what’s consumed rationally and in moderation is great for you! Even the studies suggest it. Even the wisest men on the planet though so…

„Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.“
Louis Pasteur

„We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.“
Eduardo Galeano

„Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.“ Benjamin Franklin

So, yes folks. Wine is still a mystery. One that remains unrevealed until now. Even though it is a hellish alcohol, it seems that it could still be good for us. But remember. Not only moderation determines the wealth. Usually, wine drinkers are more active, have various hobbies, eat healthy and not too much and are just people who know how to enjoy their life and their wine. Thus I guess, I should say that as always, there’s no truth in here, there’re only attitudes. And only you can choose which one to believe. Anyways, one should always remember that:

One glass of wine makes you strong like a lion,
two glasses make you happy like a monkey,
while three glasses can change you into a pig.

Salud!

 

Based on:

1. Robinson, J., ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 433.
2. Trichopoulou A, Lagiou P (1997). “Healthy traditional Mediterranean diet: an expression of culture, history, and lifestyle”. Nutr Rev 55 (11; 1): 383–9.
3. O’Keefe, JH; Bhatti, SK; Bajwa, A; DiNicolantonio, JJ; Lavie, CJ (2014). “Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy.”. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 89 (3): 382–93.
4. Nordqvist, C. (2015). “Wine: Health Benefits and Health Risks“. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265635.php
5. Robinson, J., ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 341–2.
6. Shuman, Tracy C., ed. (2005). “Alcohol and Heart disease”. WebMD.
7. Eubulus. Semele or Dionysus, fr. 93. preserved in Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 2.37c
8. Mansoon, P. (1994). “The Father of the French Paradox”. Wine Spectator.
9. Moreton, C. (2014). How much red wine should you drink? Ask an Italian… Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/wine/10838172/How-much-red-wine-should-you-drink-Ask-an-Italian….html
10. Boose, G., Segal, R. (2016). The Mediterranean Diet. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/mediterranean-diet.htm
11. Robinson, J., ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 433.
12. Taborsky, M., Ostadal, P., & Petrek, M. (2011). A pilot randomized trial comparing long-term effects of red and white wines on biomarkers of atherosclerosis (in vino veritas: IVV trial). Bratislavske lekarske listy, 113(3), 156-158.
13. Zhang, H. M., Zhao, L., Li, H., Xu, H., Chen, W. W., & Tao, L. (2014). Research progress on the anticarcinogenic actions and mechanisms of ellagic acid. Cancer biology & medicine, 11(2), 92.
14. Holmes, M. V., Dale, C. E., Zuccolo, L., Silverwood, R. J., Guo, Y., Ye, Z., … & Cavadino, A. (2014). Association between alcohol and cardiovascular disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis based on individual participant data. Bmj, 349, g4164.
15. Migliore, S., & DiPierro, A. E. (1999). Italian Lives,Cape Breton Memories. Cape Breton University Press.

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