Thursday, April 30, 2009

reaons 10-12 to drink wine

10. According to a new study from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, drinking wine adds 5 years to your life. You gain about half that by drinking beer in moderation.
11. Drinking with friends lowers your risk of stroke, according to a study from Japan. Wine tends to encourage social drinking, so now you have even more reason to share.
12.Wine polyphenols are effective anti-viral agents. One study showed that mice given a fatal innoculum of the influenza virus all survived if they were given resveratrol.

Monday, April 27, 2009

7-9 of 101 healthy reasons to drink wine

7. Wine polyphenols discourage the formation of a hormone-like substance called endothelin-1, which is associated with the develoment of cholesterol plaques in arteries. One of the many ways in which wine is heart-healthy.
8. Wine substances encourage the development of molecules called "heat shock" proteins which protect the heart and other muscles from the deleterious effects of oxygen starvation.
9. Wine -derived molecules bind LDL, the bad cholesterol.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

reasons 4-6

(continuing the series 101 healthy reasons to drink wine)
4. You are less likely to have a heart attack with regular moderate drinking. Studies reviewing hospital admissions for heart attack reveal that it is less likely if you have had a drink within the previous 24 hours.
5. You are less likely to have a second heart attack if you adopt a habit of moderate wine drinking.
6. Heart attacks when they do occur are less severe in wine drinkers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

101 healthy reasons to drink wine

It's official, the second edition of Age Gets Better With Wine is in production and is scheduled for release in July, under the Wine Appreciation Guild label. So I am counting down with 101 healthy reasons to drink wine, in no particular order.
1. In the right amounts, alcohol lowers LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and raises HDL ("good" cholesterol). This effect does not require that the alcohol come from wine, though it is more likely that the drinking pattern will be a healthy one if it is.
2. Alcohol raises levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This is a relatively recent discovery but potentially very important. Have some wild (not farmed) salmon with a glass or two of pinot noir and you are on your way.
3. Wine drinkers have lower health care costs. This may seem obvious to those who have an interest in the science of healthy drinking, but it has been documented in a study by Medicare. In a review of health care costs related to drinking, they found that those drinking 6-13 glasses of wine per week had annual expenses about $2000 less than nondrinkers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whole wine polyphenols better than resveratrol against cancer

With all the hype about resveratrol (for which I am at least partly responsible, I admit) you would think the anti-cancer properties have been pretty well spelled out. There is in fact a long list of resveratrol's anti-cancer activities, at least based on lab studies. But when we look for clinical studies on resveratrol to support the increasingly widespread use of supplements, evidence is lacking. The evidence that red wine drinkers enjoy lower cancer rates, on the other hand, seems reasonably clear at least for some types of cancer. How can it be that drinking wine is better than taking supplements of its miracle molecule resveratrol?

A couple of studies from the medical school at the University of San Juan, Puerto Rico, shed some light on this. They decided to test the anti-cancer capabilities of a combination of the polyphenols from red wine, in concentrations equivalent to what is achieved by healthy drinking, against higher concentrations of resveratrol. The study used breast cancer cells in culture, along with a variant of the type that metastasizes to bone. Incredibly, the combination was far more effective, suggesting that the natural wine compounds working together, that is the key.

Ther are a number of explanations for this. One would be that there is a natural synergy between the chemicals that is not completely understood but seems to amplify the effect. Another is that these antioxidant molecules, for all their potency, may break down when they are extracted out of their natural context in wine. If you ask me, it is the theory that supplements are somehow better than whole foods (this includes wine) that breaks down under scrutiny. So while resveratrol as a pharmacologically stabilized compound administered under standardized conditions may well prove to be the next breakthrough in cancer prevention and treatment, that is not the same as popping pills from the health food store.