Red wine and health

wine_health-200x0In recent years numerous studies have been conducted in regards to the health benefits of red wine, and every year that list gets just a little bigger. If you do not drink alcohol, it is best not to start, however if you do drink alcohol, make your choice red wine, and reap a few of the wonderful benefits.

Red wine contains an ingredient called, “resveratrol”, which is a natural chemical compound found in the skins of grapes, which has been proven to lengthen the life in certain animal studies that have been conducted. This same ingredient has also been shown to fight and protect against Alzheimer’s and even Dementia diseases. Recently, a Harvard University study that was conducted analyzed  over 12,000 women between the ages of 70-81, over the course of 6 years who drank red wine in moderation, the research showed a 23% decrease in mental health decline versus those who did not drink.

There are also a tremendous amount of anti-oxidants that are contained within the grapes that make up red wine, and research has shown that the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease is greatly reduced when a glass of red wine is incorporated into one’s daily diet. The tannins found in red wine also contain procyanidins that also greatly protect against heart disease. In fact, studies show that there is a 30% reduced rate in your chances of having a heart attack, and a 30% reduction of having an ischemic stroke (over 80% of all strokes occurring in the United States are ischemic). How does red wine actually play such an important role in cardiovascular health? Two key ingredients in red wine have also shown to reduce cholesterol. While resveratroll lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, while also increasing your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Another component, called saponin, also significantly lowers cholesterol as well. Red wine also doubles as an anticoagulant, making blood clots less likely to occur. Resveratrol also has known anti-inflammatory properties, which greatly benefits those suffering from illnesses and diseases that are associated with inflammation. Red wine also contains complex compounds such as polyphenols that double as anti-inflammatories. These same inflammatory diseases are also often the very same ones that are causing strokes and heart diseases.

red-wine-and-heart-healthResearchers at the University of Milan have found that certain grapes that make up red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti and Merlot, also contain forms of Melatonin, sometimes upwards of 20 times more than what our bodies naturally produce, and which is also a natural sleep aid. Melatonin is a chemical that is produced within our brains by the pineal gland, the amount of which is in relation to our daily sun exposure, it basically tells our bodies when it is time to sleep. Incorporating a glass or two of red wine, between an hour to an hour-and-a-half before bedtime, can greatly encourage your body to sleep.

Another research study conducted at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, has found that each glass of red wine that is consumed per day can actually help lower your risk of developing lung cancer by up to 13%, particularly in smokers and males. In fact, smokers who consumed at least one glass of red wine a day saw a reduced risk by up to 60%, although the best way to combat your chances of developing lung cancer, is simply to stop smoking altogether.

Men who drink 4 or more glasses of red wine per week have a 50% reduced risk of the development of prostate cancer, and even the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer have a 60% reduced rate of development. The risk of colon cancer also significantly drops when drinking more than 3 glasses of red wine per week, such is the case with both men and women. Research has suggested that resveratrol has tremendous attributes in terms of preventing the abnormal colon growths that in turn can become cancerous.

In terms of breast cancer in women, moderation must be taken, as research has shown that although the consumption of red wine has been known to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by reducing levels of estrogen that in turn cause breast cancer, the consumption of 1-2 alcoholic beverages daily has been proven to actually increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Yet interestingly, resveratrol has also been known to slow the risk of already developing breast cancer cells. If breast cancer is something that runs in your family you can take some precautionary measures in terms of breast cancer prevention by taking a multi-vitamin containing folate to further reduce your risk.

We all know how incredibly important it is to maintain a balanced lifestyle in regards to diet and exercise in order to stay healthy and also in attempts to avoid the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. A recent study conducted in Japan monitored over 10,000 Japanese men who drank red wine 4-7 times per week and the results showed a 26% drop in lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is currently being studied what role specifically resveratrol plays in regards to type 2 diabetes, however it is being suggested that it may stimulate insulin secretions, or possibly even activate proteins that in turn regulate insulin and glucose sensitivities.

As we have reviewed, there are tremendous benefits to the consumption of red wine and incorporating it into your daily or weekly diet, and more studies are being conducted on a regular basis. However, as with most everything else, nothing good can come from overindulgence. It is recommended that women drink 1 (5oz.) glass of red wine, and 2 (5 oz.) glasses of red wine for men, daily. This however, is simply a recommendation based upon one’s health and level of fitness. Talk with your health physician in regards to what may be best for you and as previously stated, if you do not already drink, it is best not to start. However if you do, drink moderately and responsibly to experience the excellent health benefits of red wine.

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