Is A Daily Glass Of Wine Healthy?
Are you a daily glass of wine drinker? Maybe you are just curious, should I start drinking wine for health reasons? Will it benefit your health, cholesterol, or blood pressure? There are lots of claims out there about what wine can do for your health. In this article, we look to answer this question. How is it benefiting and what part of your health is it actually helping, if any? We break down the details of this question, is a daily glass of wine healthy?
If you want to understand the benefits and risks of daily wine drinking, keep reading.
Is Wine Good Or Bad?
My initial, reaction or response to this question is that there is probably not much benefit. Still, there are some specific things to consider with this question. Some of the information that I found when researching this topic actually surprised me. So the first thing to understand is that wine contains resveratrol. Resveratrol has a lot of research on it because of its activity to work as an antioxidant. The antioxidant effect occurs through working on specific molecules in the body, partially through increasing NAD levels. The main effect though seems to be its function as an antioxidant. Specifically, activating the internal antioxidant systems in your body. So this is one potential plus side of wine.
On the other hand, wine contains alcohol and which is toxic. Toxins are not good for anyone to consume on a regular basis. Just think, your liver has to process that toxin, no matter how little or large the quantity. It is a toxin that your body has to eliminate. If your liver is already overburdened with toxins, adding more, won't help. It's adding more burden to their system.
Conversely, there's also this principle known as hormesis. This principal states that little bit of something is good, but a lot of it is bad. You can put exercise, heat and cold into this category. Even with a potential hormetic effect. I think the main question to look at is, do the benefits of resveratrol outweigh any downside effects of alcohol. So this question, is a daily glass of wine healthy, is not always straightforward to answer. Let's look a what the research says.
Blood Pressure And Daily Wine Consumption
A lot of the research on this question is biased and limited in scope. It's also based on a lot of epidemiological studies, which are not as helpful as double blind placebo control trials. Looking at the body of research as a whole, there does seem to be one outstanding area of the body benefiting. If any benefits are present from wine, the cardiovascular system seems to show the most positive outcomes. This is likely due to the antioxidant effect of resveratrol. When they take the alcohol out of the wine and make de-alcoholized wine, it looks like there's even a more obvious benefit to the cardiovascular system. That makes a lot of sense since resveratrol is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Cardiovascular disease is a disease of inflammation in the arteries. Very few people drink non-alcoholic wine though.
We should look at this a little bit closer to see what's going on. We know that some of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation. There's no question that moderate to high alcohol intake, which I would define as more than two drinks daily, raises blood pressure. This increase in blood pressure occurs as a result of the reciprocal response of the body. Alcohol increases GABA activity, which is a sedative and calms down your body. As a result, the body will produce more stimulating things to balance and even out the scales a bit. When the alcohol wears off that stimulating effect is still there. This is what happens when people are going through withdrawal. Sometimes even after a hangover, you feel anxious. You can't calm down because this residual effect is present. Even if you are only drinking one or two a day, this is still happening in the background. This is especially true if you are drinking regularly, and you may not really notice it.
This stimulating effect will get transferred into your blood pressure. Below two drinks per day, it probably won't be noticeable. Above two drinks it probably will be noticeable. It will really depend on the individual, how you process that alcohol, what your overall stress level is, size etc. Logically though, it's very unlikely for consuming wine with alcohol will help your blood pressure. The research seems to support this. Drinking moderate amount of alcohol on a regular basis will definitely increase blood pressure. So what about cholesterol?
Cholesterol And Daily Wine Consumption
Total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and other cholesterol markers are much higher in alcoholics compared to non alcoholics. Heavy consumption of alcohol will really mess up your cholesterol levels and put you at more, not less risk for cardiovascular disease risk. Generally speaking alcohol is an empty calorie and will increase certain cholesterol parameters like triglycerides. In some cases the LDL cholesterol too. Your HDL cholesterol, which is often referred to as your "good cholesterol" will go up from alcohol. This is a positive thing for those people drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol. This increase in HDL cholesterol is pretty well documented and not refuted. Some have argued that the type of HDL or type of good cholesterol that goes up is not the optimal one.
Studies looking at this specifically have found that in fact, it is the optimal type of good cholesterol or good HDL cholesterol that increases. The question is, does it go up more than the triglycerides? The ratio between the HDL and triglycerides that is important. It looks like the dose will be the major variable to look at when we're trying to answer this question, is a daily glass align healthy for you.
So how big is that glass of wine? Where does any benefit on the polyphenols and resveratrol in the wine get outweighed by the alcohol and empty calories? In order to answer this question, we do have to look at the overall calorie content in the wine itself. We also have to look at the individual uniqueness of each person that's consuming alcohol based on their genetics. Some people may not break it down as efficiently as someone else. There could be genetic alterations in how you are breaking down the aldehydes and alcohol. Difficulty in breaking down alcohol for instance, is commonly seen in Asian populations. Histamine is also a common component in wine that may not be suitable for everyone that consumes it. So while it may be healthy for one person, may not be healthy for you.
Now back to the calorie question, alcohol is clearly an empty calorie, not dissimilar to cake, candy and things like this. All calories equal, it may be better to have the wine since it does have the anti-inflammatory resveratrol in it, as well. As long as your dose is on the low side to avoid that any toxicity from the alcohol. Of course, if your total calories are increasing as a result of consuming that wine, you are not doing yourself any favors and undoubtedly will be detrimental to your health.
Is A Daily Glass Of Wine Health?
Here's the bottom line as I see it. If you treat it like a specific dose of medicine or supplement, and not as an excuse to get intoxicated or to fill some kind of craving, it can actually be adding to your overall health. There may be a specific cardiovascular benefit in terms of blood pressure but this seems less likely. For sure, the antiiflammatory and effect on HDL cholesterol is likely where the benefit is coming from. We have to remember that wine and alcohol specifically have a J shaped curved. There is a reduction in risk and benefit at low doses and this can turn into a liability at higher doses. So with that in mind, it's best to stay on the very low dose or not indulge at all. Otherwise you are increase your overall risk for health issues, while trying to improve your health. We don't really have enough information to actually fully answer this question. However, if I were to guess is a daily glass of wine healthy, three ounces or less may be beneficial for some people. That amount goes up slightly if you are a larger person in down slightly if you are a smaller person.
That should give you a better understanding of is a daily glass of wine healthy. If you have questions about the content in this article, please ask it in the comment section below.
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