Can you enjoy wine and be healthy? This question has been at the forefront of my mind lately. Recently, when someone discovered I work with wine, their response went something like this – how can you work with wine and be healthy? I was genuinely taken aback that they felt the two were mutually exclusive!
Drink better not more
At Grape and Nectar, we firmly promote the philosophy of drinking better, not more. We believe in this wholeheartedly and we aim to drink consciously. We also believe that everyone is unique and should assess and understand their personal relationship with alcohol. There is ‘no one size fits all’ approach. Indeed, for some, not drinking at all is the best option, but for others that is not the case. If you fall into the latter group it is worth considering that two of the worlds Blue Zones (Sardinia and Ikaria) include moderate consumption of wine.
The French Paradox
So, it would seem that you can lead a healthy lifestyle and incorporate a glass of wine or two. Look at the French Paradox. This phrase emerged in the 1980s. The French were shown to consume significantly more saturated fat, yet had lower levels of cardiovascular disease. It was suggested that France’s higher red wine consumption was behind this trend. The absence of trans fats in the French diet does rather debunk this theory. However, the premise remains – the moderate drinking of wine appears not to be a negative, particularly when consumed with a meal.
The Mediterranean diet
This leads neatly to the regularly promoted Mediterranean diet. This diet is constantly touted as an optimal protocol for brain and heart health. Significantly, it does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. In fact, wine production is firmly embedded in most, if not all, Mediterranean cultures. The links between this lifestyle and a reduction in depression were reported by the Wine Spectator last year.
Is Resveratrol the key to all this?This magical compound is a polyphenol present in red wine and grapes. It is regularly quoted as a saviour for our health woes and is linked to the Mediterranean diet. Research has suggested it can benefit anything from the gut microbiome, to cardiovascular health. It can prevent vision loss through inhibiting macular degeneration and even treat acne. These could all be beneficial side effects of a glass of red. However, all this benefits are very much based in considered and moderate consumption, rather than binge drinking!
Can white wine have benefits?
It isn’t just red wine that can benefit us. Indeed, red does not agree with everyone, as out blogs on histamine suggest. Fortunately, white wine has been shown to contain antioxidants, as well. In a study carried out at the University of Barcelona they addressed this very topic. They suggest that the phenols in white wine were ‘comparable or [had] higher antioxidant capacity than red wine phenols’. So that’s a thumbs up for white wine, too.
This is very much the tip of the iceberg and counter-arguments abound. However, if you are comfortable with enjoying a glass of wine, we think you can do so without guilt. We believe if you are mindful about what you consume, you can be healthy and enjoy wine. Our approach is simple. Never drink on an empty stomach, ideally share your wine with those you love and enjoy the social connection it bring. And finally aim to drink less, but better.