Wine & Health – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

wine and health

Wine and your health depends on a few things – Photo by Red O’Laughlin

Is drinking wine bad for your health? Let’s look at the GOOD aspects first compared to nondrinkers. Moderate wine drinkers (one glass of red wine for women and two glasses of red wine for men) are 30% less likely to suffer from high blood pressure according to a 16-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health. Moderate wine drinkers are also 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes according to a 12-year study at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center.

A Columbia University study showed that fifty percent of moderate wine drinkers are less likely to have blood clot-related strokes. A four-year Stony Brook University study showed that colon cancer rates are 45% less for moderate wine drinkers. Moderate wine drinkers have a 23% less likelihood of getting cataracts. When compared to beer drinkers, wine drinkers were 43% less likely to get cataracts.

The BAD aspects of drinking wine are also worth noting. Ten percent of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach. The rest is absorbed in the small intestines and enters the bloodstream. The liver metabolizes alcohol at the rate of one ounce per hour.

Alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a poison in the body and is then converted to acetic acid (vinegar) by aldehyde dehydrogenase. The acetic acid is processed normally in the body.

Increased blood alcohol levels increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter. It facilitates communications between the brain and the nervous system. Increased GABA slows down brain function. Another neural inhibition is found in the glutamate receptors. Brain function is slowed, primarily in the prefrontal cortex which addresses your personal behavior.

Alcohol makes you feel good because it increases dopamine levels. When you feel good, you want more of what caused it (alcohol, ice cream, potato chips, cookies, pie, etc.).

The UGLY aspects of wine drinking apply to increased alcohol consumption. One drink an hour can be processed by the liver. When the alcohol metabolism process starts in the liver, all other digestive processes cease. Alcohol is considered a poison and it is critical for your body to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Your body’s full attention is given to eliminating this poison.

Excessive wine drinkers tend to eat more and ignore nutritional balance. The cerebellum controls the peripheral nerves. Long-term abuse of alcohol can cause chronic nerve damage and impair balance and other bodily functions. Chronic, long-term excessive alcohol consumption can cause cirrhosis of the liver.

Many people drink alcohol to facilitate falling to sleep. Alcohol does help you to get to sleep faster. The minute your liver finishes metabolizing the alcohol, your body goes back into catch-up mode to complete the digestion of food. Have you ever had a couple of drinks before going to bed, fall asleep quickly and then a few hours later wake up for no reason? It is that time when your body shifts from metabolizing alcohol to digestion. Sometimes it is difficult to get back to sleep.

Moderation in many things in life will generally keep you safe and healthy.

 


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