Wine and health.
By Subhash Arora
Sunday, 26th March 2006
To put things in the correct perspective, let us list the disadvantages first.

Wine usually contains 11-14% alcohol which is toxic. Effects on liver, brain, grey cells dieing and increase in ac rate while driving under the influence of over-consumption of alcohol due to excessive wine (more than 3 glasses) are well known.

There has been overwhelming evidence that wine in moderate quantity is extremely beneficial for health. Wine inhibits the growth of all microorganisms that cause several known diseases. Because of the alcohol and a content they simply tend to die in wine. Wine used to be a part of medical treatment till the beginning of 20th century.

Heart: A Canadian website quotes two doctors Dr. Lipp and Dr. Whiten who reported in 1994 that 'if every adult in North America drank 2 glasses of wine a day, the in of heart disease in America would come down by 40% and US$ 40 Billion could be saved every year.'

The French Paradox, a term coined in 1991, presented enough evidence that drinking moderate amount of red wine daily reduces the in of heart attacks. Dr. Serge Renaud, Director of the French National Institute Health and Medical Research felt that the Paradox was due to the wine drinking habit in France. Wine contains phenolic compounds like resveratrol and flavonoids present in grape skins, stems and seeds which are anti oxidants that inhibit platelet clotting and produce better HDL-LDL (good -bad) cholesterol ratio.

The number of phenolic compounds in a particular wine varies but typically red wine contains more than 50 constituents. Resveratrol is a natural fungi in the grape skins that provides protection for the grape in cool and damp climate. In white wine production, seeds and skins are almost immediately removed from the juice. Stems are invariably not used in these wines. Therefore, resveratrol and flavonoids are much less in white wines. The total amount of these compounds is 1-3 gms./lit. of red wine compared to about 200mgm in white wines. Usually, oxidation of LDL results in development of arterial plaques resulting in heart attacks. These anti-oxidants slow down this process. Since red wines have a lot more of these flavonoids, they are better for heart and as anti aging agents.

Over 100 studies have been conducted to study the effect of wine on heart in the last 10 years. A while back, the WHO and Collaborative Center for Nutrition at the Harvard Medical School and Public Health developed a Mediterranean dieting programme which included wine as part of the recommended diet. In 1995, Dietary Guidelines for Americans admitted for the first time that modest drinking of wine may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease among males of 45 years and women of 65 years. Also in 1995, a study conducted in Copenhagen from 1976-1988 over 13000 men and women between 30 and 70 years of age concluded that those who drank 3-5 glasses of wine a day had half the mortality risk of those who did not drink at all or drank beer and hard drinks. Danes drink 30% more wine than about 20 years ago and the in of heart diseases has decreased by 30%.

Stroke: Also, the flavonoids lower the chance of platelet aggregation. Two studies conducted a few years ago have shown a significant risk reduction in the most commonly occurring ischemic strokes.

Cancer: In of breast cancer increases a little, especially for younger women. But a study conducted by Dr. Renaud of the French Paradox fame showed a reduction in cancer by 18 - 24%. Recent study by a in cancer in a recent study by American Cancer Society conducted on middle age can cut the risk of premature death by 20%. More studies need to be conducted, though, to be as conclusive as the effect of wine on heart and its anti aging properties.

Dementia: There is evidence that moderate wine drinkers are less likely to develop dementia than heavy or non-drinkers.

Vision: A study conducted in USA in 1998 shows that moderate wine drinkers have their visual cells preserved 20% better than beer or non-drinkers.

Respiratory diseases: Some people suffering from asthma feel that the respiratory problem increases on drinking wine.

Headaches: Some people suffer headaches on drinking red wine. This is perhaps, due to the phenolics which liberate from cells the chemical messenger, Scrotonin, which contributes towards headaches. Grape skins also contain histamines that react with alcohol and cause drowsiness. Taking Sudafed tablet before taking wine helps prevent headaches and drowsiness. Recent studies indicate that aspirin is better for red wine headaches. Please consult a doctor before taking any medication.

Blood Pressure: Alcohol is reported to increase blood pressure. However, when taken in moderate quantity, the polyphenols in red wine help relax the walls of the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clotting.

Cold: A recent study has established the benefit of wine in reducing the in of catching cold. Regular drinking of wine ( red or white) results in 40% reduction. See more details below.

Lungs: Good news for smokers! White wine is good for lungs. Please see our article below for details of the latest study.

How much wine to drink

Most wine lovers agree that a bottle of red wine should be split by 2 people (2.5 glasses per person). This is more than the alcohol limit prescribed and also can cause negative effects due to alcohol over a long period and may increase exposure of breast cancer for women.. The Harvard Dieting Pyramid recommends between 1-2 glasses per day. AWARE (American Wine Alliance for Research and Education) recommends 1-2 drinks for women and 2-3 drinks for men.

Dr. Christian Bernard, who conducted the first heart transplant has recommended 2 glasses a day. Dr. Naresh Trehan, the well known cardiologist and Executive Director of Escorts Heart Institute recommends a glass of red wine every day. This is also the legal limit of alcohol allowed for safe driving.

French paradox

The word 'French Paradox' was coined on Sunday, November 17, 1991, in the CBS Programme, '60 Minutes' watched by 20 million Americans. The French Scientist and Doctor Serge Renaud produced evidence that while the French ate excess amount of fats, smoked heavily and did little exercise, the in of heart disease was one of the lowest in the world. He had conducted a study on 34000 men and women, smokers and non- smokers, which showed that people drinking 2-3 glasses of wine a day reduced the death rate by up to 30 %.

Sale of red wine shot up by 40 % overnight and the House of Gallo had to ration their signature red wine, Hearty Burgundy. Next year saw a further jump of 39% in the sale of red wine.

60 Minutes followed up the story 4 years later on November, 5, 1995 and concluded that French had one-third rate of heart disease than the Americans.

White Wine Consumption May Be Good for the Lungs.

A new study conducted by the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, indicates that white-wine drinkers have healthier lungs than nondrinkers, beer or spirits drinkers and also red-wine drinkers. "If our findings are real, the observation that the association was slightly stronger for white wine than for red wine is surprising, because it has been suggested that red wine has greater health benefits than white wine," wrote the researchers.

Both red and white wine contain natural compounds called polyphenols, which are known to act as antioxidants, which protect body tissues from damage over time. But red wine generally contains greater amounts of polyphenols, which include tannins and the pigments in grape skins that give red wine its color.

The study, headed by Dr. Holger Schünemann, Assistant Professor at the University was presented at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society on May 20 in Atlanta. Schünemann and his team initiated the study to try to establish a link between wine-drinking and lung health -- an association that is under-represented in the medical world, he said. "Pulmonary function is a very important predictor of mortality.

This is not as well recognized as blood pressure or cholesterol, although it is equally important," said Schünemann. "One of the reasons [the study was conducted] is that there seems to be little nearly 500,000 men and women concluded that a drink a day in known about what could actually modify lung function or the decline in lung function with aging." The researchers studied a total of 1,555 residents of Erie and Niagara counties in New York state and who were 60 years old and did not have a history of lung disorders. The participants were interviewed about their dietary habits, smoking patterns and alcohol consumption over the past 30 days and during their entire lives. Tests were done to determine the subjects' lung capacity and health, such as measuring the volume of air they could exhale in one second.

It was found that those who drank white wine only had the healthiest lungs -- in terms of the breakdown of tissue with age, rather than specific diseases -- followed by red wine drinkers. Consumption of beer and spirits showed little or no beneficial effect on the lungs, similar to those who had never drunk in their lives and to former drinkers.

Fewer than 14 percent of the subjects were current smokers. This number is too small to correctly gauge if the antioxidants in wine can counteract the negative effects of smoking on the lungs. Also, most of the participants were overweight, which could have affected the results. Schünemann stressed that the study is not intended to change
people's drinking habits, but was designed to observe ways to keep lungs healthy.

Wine & Cold

Research findings over the last five years have already proved conclusively that red wine has anti-aging properties and is good for heart if taken regularly in moderate quantities. Now a Study done by Spanish researchers has concluded that consumption of wine can reduce the chance of catching cold by up to 40%.

A team of doctors from the University of Santiago de Compostela, University Hospital of Canary Islands and Dr. Miguel Harnan of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston studied 4,272 teachers in five universities for one year. Common cold conditions like sneezing, sore throat, running nose, cough and cold headaches were regularly logged by all the males and females.

The study indicated that the people who drank a daily average of more than 2 glasses of wine experienced 40% reduction compared to those who did not drink any alcohol.

About the Author:
Formed Delhi Wine Club two years ago to promote wine culture in India through education by organizing various programmes and training seminars, wine tasting dinners etc. Writing content and managing the club website with India-centric wine related news since inception. Wine passion has taken him to various wine fairs, vineyards and conferences around the world. He has written regularly for a popular daily under, 'Wonderful World of Wine' and a couple of national magazines. An engineer from IIT, Delhi with Master's degrees in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration from the University of Minnesota, he has been actively promoting wine in India by delivering talks, organizing wine appreciation courses, training waiters and managers, designing wine menus and offering wine consultancy.

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