The power of the mind is nowhere as evident as on the label of a wine bottle…
When reading the ‘story of the wine’ – you stand a good chance of being swept away…. ‘Delicious’ ‘well balanced’ ‘beautiful aromas’ – words strung together that allows the mind to savour – even before having had a single drop…
Through the ‘well structured’ ‘undertones of’ ‘bouquet of aromas’ and ‘terms of enjoyment’, unannounced, the omnipotent question always seems to present itself in one way or another, at some time or another: Which is better? Red or White?
Regardless of the motivation behind the question, as with any good wine, it’s an excellent habit to look at health issues from different angles, swirl around the different views and examine the evidence carefully. A little sniffing around the latest scientific evidence has indeed provided new and exciting evidence – ABOUT WINE.
To a large degree, it is common knowledge and even in scientific circles, there is general consensus that wine, particularly red wine, is a drink that contains anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants are believed to lie at the heart of the proposed ‘protection plan’ offered by red wine – with particular reference to heart health. Indeed, there is some evidence that the polyphenols (chemical particles found in abundance in most fruits and vegetables – and especially those that are very colourful) are key in this complex process.
On the other hand, it is also common knowledge and there is general consensus that wine, unlike fruit and vegetables – also contain alcohol. Alcohol is a natural, but pretty potent chemical compound. It is mood altering, can damage the liver and is associated with oxidative damage. That means, although the polyphenols are good, the alcohol is potentially doing damage at exactly the same ‘site’ in the body where the polyphenols are trying to protect.
So who and what should one believe?
Over the past century, the advances in analytical chemistry have played a significant role in understanding wine chemistry and flavour. There has even been development to combine chemical analysis and ‘tasting’ – to gain a better understanding of predicting what the wine will ‘taste’ like – by looking at certain components in the wine during the production period.
Unfortunately, despite advances in medical research, emerging evidence relating to wine and alcohol consumption and human health seem to be swirling around. Instead of yielding clear and simple answers, researchers seem to rather be uncovering more interesting but very diverse mechanisms on how not only red wine – but in actual fact alcohol (and hence naturally white wine) may play a role in human health.
One ‘healthy’ component found in wine, Resveratrol was shown to extend life span in yeast through the activation of longevity gene. The same gene is found in humans. This does not mean that wine will make you live longer, but at least it is a potential thought. In fact, the same gene is activated in humans who control the amount of energy they eat – and the benefit of calorie restriction and subsequent weight management is well known.
In another study published by researchers from the University of Porto, Portugal, it was shown that red wine – and particularly the alcohol component, may play a role in the processes involved in reducing fat and weight gain. The researchers state that these interesting studies indeed deserve further study as it may lead to new strategies to reduce metabolic syndrome.
Researchers from the US published their research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealing that: ‘moderate consumption of alcohol may be beneficial to bone in men and postmenopausal women.’ They do however caution that in men, high liquor intakes (>2 drinks/d) were associated with significantly lower Bone Mineral Density. It was however good news for wine lovers that wine was certainly ahead of liquor in the race for ‘goodness’ – suggesting again that is likely the complex composition – and not a single component in wine that benefit the human body.
And last but not least, a researcher from France, Bellisle , bring to our attention that there is often that which is not clearly visible with the naked eye – and this applies to wine as well. Referring to the potential impact not only of the particular foods and beverages we consume may have on our health – reducing our risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity etc. – but also the potential effect our eating and drinking habits may have on our health.
In other words, it is not only about what we eat, but also when we eat, do we relax with our meals, do we have enough rest, have a less stressful lifestyle, enjoy the company of good friends, and have a glass of wine…
This is clear from the current evidence at hand: There’s more to the think about and probably more to come when considering the issue of ‘wine and health’. For the time being, share these sensible nutrition tips – over a good bottle of wine:
? If a daily glass of wine is a habit, this glass may still be enjoyed as part of a weight loss program and should not be exchanged for food. Smaller portions – and a small portion of wine, combined with lower fat meal will aid metabolism.
? Alcohol is a natural diuretic. No need to mix water and wine – but help the body: have enough water alongside wine.
? Alcohol is also an natural appetiser. Make use of this need to nibble and nibble on unsalted but roasted raw almonds or any other nuts to increase intake of important nutrients such as magnesium and essential oils. Especially the magnesium will help counterbalance the potential acidity often associated with drinking wine.
? Double the potential positives of wine by doubling your good eating habits – lots of fruit, vegetables, lean meat/fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds are great ingredients to compliment any enjoyable habit.