Is wine good for your health?

Wine has existed for ages. Humans have been enjoying it since Neolithic times, and since then, the process of making wine has also changed. Today, the wine industry is a big one, and winery is now a big business. That said, what is the absolute truth about wine and its effect on health?

Friends raising their wine glasses

One of wine's most commonly discussed benefits is its potential to reduce the risk of heart diseases. According to research, consumption of wine was associated with a reduction of heart diseases.

Red wine contains a high concentration of polyphenol antioxidants, which researchers believe can reduce the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and metabolic diseases. 

Research in this area has focused mainly on the polyphenol resveratrol, which occurs naturally in grape (the major wine constituent) seeds and skins. Resveratrol is believed to prevent high blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. 

While some researches have suggested that wine (particularly red wine) is healthy for the heart, some other studies seem to contradict this. More research needs to be carried out in this area. 

Irrespective of what current studies say, it is best to drink in moderation because excess alcohol consumption negatively affects the heart.

Health benefits of wine include:

1. Abundant antioxidants

Wine is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent or slow down the cellular damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules the body produces in reaction to environmental and other pressures).

Free radicals can cause damage to the cells when they become too much. They become harmful when the body cannot process and remove them efficiently (a state known as oxidative stress). 

Antioxidants act to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Studies have shown that red wine can increase oxidant levels more than white wine because red wine grapes are richer in antioxidants.

2. Combats inflammation

Inflammation is a process by which the body’s immune system protects the body from infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. 

Inflammation is not bad, but if it becomes chronic, it can be harmful. Chronic inflammation can cause injury to the joints, tissues, and blood vessels. It can also increase the risk of developing autoimmune disorders, heart disease, and certain types of cancer

Chronic inflammation can be reduced by exercising, reducing stress, and dieting. Wine is believed to be one of the foods that have the potential to reduce inflammation. 

Red wine contains resveratrol, which, according to studies, has anti-inflammatory properties beneficial to health. One study showed that moderate wine consumption was associated with a reduced inflammatory response.

3. Healthy gut bacteria

The stomach contains bacterial flora that play a crucial role in the digestive processes as well as the immune system. The majority of gut bacteria are harmless and beneficial to health.

Recent studies suggest that red wine may promote healthy gut bacteria, which may, in turn, improve metabolic syndrome markers in obese people. However, this observed benefit of wine to gut health was found in people who took just one glass of red wine per week.

4. Promotes longevity

Drinking wine in moderation may promote longevity. Oxidative stress can contribute to aging, and since wine contains plenty of antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress, it may help slow down aging. 

Wine contains compounds such as hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, which have been found to be protective against Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder common in people over 65 years of age.

Wine also promotes longevity by reducing the risk of developing other chronic diseases prevalent in older people, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Should you drink red or white wine?

Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

Wine preference is usually based on taste, but many people wonder which is the healthiest pick between red wine and white wine. 

The main difference between red wine and white wine is in the colour of the grapes used as well as the fermentation process. 

For white wines, the grapes are pressed and then the seeds, skin and stems are removed before fermenting. On the other hand, red wines involve crushing the grapes and fermenting them alongside the seeds, skin and stems. 

Grape skins give wine its distinct colour. They also lend wine the abundant healthy compounds found in red wine.

Because red wine is fermented with the grape skin, it is rich in the plant compounds found in those skins, such as resveratrol and tannins. 

Even though white wine also contains some of the healthy plant compounds, they are not as abundant in white wine as in red wine. 

Why wine should be consumed in moderation

Wine is an alcoholic beverage, just like beer. An average glass of wine contains about 11-13 alcohol, so it must be consumed with caution. 

When you take too much alcohol, you get the same effect as when you consume excess beer. And excess alcohol intake has been associated with negative outcomes such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, pancreatic disease and cancer. 

According to a recent study, the ideal daily intake of wine is 2 glasses (300 ml) for men and 1 glass (150 ml) for women.

Sticking with this moderate amount of wine has been associated with positive health outcomes, disease prognosis, and disease prevention. 

Red wine may be the healthiest alcoholic drink option; however, abstaining entirely from alcohol is healthier. Some health experts still don't encourage people to drink red wines because of their alcohol content.