To Wine or Not To Wine?

Home » Wellbeing » To Wine or Not To Wine?

When I was in naturopathic medical college, the lesson that really stuck with me came from my first-year physiology professor. In reference to physiology but applicable to life in general, he said the most accurate answer to any question you will ever be asked is “it depends,” and that nothing is absolute.

I love that! In cellular physiology, the outcome of a cellular process depends upon the state of the environment of the cell. In life, the outcome of a decision is dependent on the situation. And so when it comes to health-related questions that I am asked, I often find myself coming back to that honest but often frustrating answer: “It depends.”  Black and white, cut-and-dry answers don’t take into consideration the complexity of our physiological and psychological natures.

Is Wine Good for Me?

And so it is with the question: is wine good for me? There is not a simple straightforward answer; however I will provide some context for this. There are a few questions one might want to answer first. Do you have a sulfite/nitrate or histamine sensitivity (allergies, migraines, asthma, tendency to skin rashes)? An addictive personality? Liver or gallbladder issues? Blood sugar issues/diabetes/obesity? There are individual reasons why someone might be best off to avoid imbibing and these are best respected.

Generally speaking, however, there are some great health benefits to being a moderate consumer of wine — red wine in particular; however white wine also contains powerful polyphenolic compounds. These benefits are found with no more than one five-ounce glass of red wine daily for women and no more than two five-ounce glasses daily for men, with one to two alcohol-free days per week.

Refined, Saskatoon, Wine, Laura Zepp, Drinks, Alcohol, Health, Wine Tasting

The Polyphenol-Anitoxidant Connection

The health benefits of wine are attributable to the fact that wine is antioxidant- rich. The term “antioxidant” is thrown around quite liberally, but what exactly does it mean?  Some plants may contain several different polyphenols from various classes, and wine is one of them, which makes it a very powerful beverage. Polyphenols act as antioxidants that protect our cells from destruction due to free-radical activity caused by stress, pollution, poor diets, lack of proper rest and sleep and overall toxic load. Wine contains many polyphenols, which contributes to its power in fighting disease.

The most well-researched health benefits to the antioxidant activity of wine, at the moderate daily doses noted above, include:

  • Increased HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) while reducing LDLs
  • Decreased blood viscosity, making it more difficult for clots to form and thereby reducing risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Protects the lining of your blood vessels, especially those of your heart
  • Destroys cells that are unhealthy or damaged, such as cancer cells
  • Protects nerve cells from damage and may help prevent conditions such as dementia and Alzheimers
  • May help prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk of diabetes

It is worth noting that there are also supplements that contain the powerful antioxidants found in the powerhouse grape, commercially available as Grapeseed capsules. Resveratrol, one of the specific polyphenols found in extremely high concentrations in grapes, can also be found in capsule form. So for those not able or desiring to consume alcohol on a daily basis, these benefits can be readily attained in a non-harmful, side-effect free form.

Indulge in Moderation & Remember to Detox

For those who enjoy a nice glass of wine, remember to sip with restraint to get the health benefits; an excess of anything results in detrimental health effects and the risks will begin to outweigh the benefits. Choose an organic wine when you can to avoid the additional stress on your body that can come with non-organic wine options. Red wine, due to its Resveratrol, packs a harder antioxidant punch than white, so bear that in mind as you pour your glass.

I love a nice glass of red myself, and as I type out this article this morning, I am also sipping my lemon-green tea to support my liver after last night’s indulgence. This journey to health is about being mindful of your limits, honouring your body and supporting yourself as best you can through healthy choices.