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Showing posts from December, 2012

A fond farewell to the father of the French Paradox

This has been a year of continued affirmation of the role of wine as a central component of healthy living, but rather than a review I would like to pay tribute to Serge Renaud, considered by many to be the father of the “French paradox.” It was a seminal moment in 1991, on the CBS-television show “60 Minutes” when Dr. Renaud offered that “A moderate and regular wine consumption of one to three drinks per day, which is common in France, protects us” from the much higher incidence of heart disease in America. Dr. Renaud collapsed walking to the beach near his Mediterranean home on October 28 at age 85.
Though born the son of a winemaker, Renaud’s early studies focused on dietary factors comprising what would later come to be known as the Mediterranean Diet. There were important differences in the composition of dietary fats -specifically omega -3 and 6 fatty acids - that seemed to hold the key. Over time however it became apparent that regular wine consumption was a critical part of the…

Red wine headaches syndrome: Why is it still a problem?

If you are prone to headaches from red wine, would you drink wine made from genetically modified yeast if you knew you wouldn’t react to it? The problem of headaches from wine is one of the most frequent questions I get at lectures on wine and health. From an anti-aging point of view, evidence clearly points to red wine as a healthy habit. But if it gives you headaches, it just isn’t worth it. The good news is that we know what causes the headaches and how to make wine that doesn’t provoke them; the bad news is that almost no one is making wine that way. The reasons behind this are enough to cause befuddle the brain and cause a headache all over again.
You can thank University of British Columbia Biotechnology Professor Hennie van Vuuren for developing the solution. A sufferer of the red wine syndrome himself, Dr. van Vuuren has been working on the solution for some 15 years. The problem stems from compounds called biogenic amines, which include histamine and some rather nasty soundin…