Health Secrets of Drinking Red Wine
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on June 30, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Blog
Holistic Doctors and other health professionals have been touting drinking red wine in moderation for optimal health for many years. Recently, however, scientists have uncovered the secret behind the health benefits of red wine.
Their research has pinpointed a polyphenol called Resveratrol, which is a compound that is found in grapevines that are used for red wines, grape seed pills and grape seed extracts. Resveratrol is natural antioxidant that works to fight off cell damage in the body that is caused by free radicals from sun exposure and air pollution.
It seems that previously, researchers were unaware of exactly how polyphenols worked in the body. They did know, however, that as a person’s body ages, their cell’s DNA becomes damaged. The damage that is caused can force the body’s cells to activate the wrong genes, which could, in effect, harm the cells and the body. Resveratrol appeared to act as a body’s ally in repairing damages in to a body’s cells.
The researchers now believe to understand how a compound such as Resveratrol works. Co-author of a research study that will make its first appearance in the September issue of the journal ‘Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research’, and an associate professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, Lindsay Brown, has said:
“The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases, such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more.”
The researchers agree that the possible methods of how Resveratrol actually works are as follows:
* Resveratrol consumed in relatively high doses may prevent cancer by increasing the body’s process of apoptosis, aka programmed cell death.
* Resveratrol consumed in lower doses actually improves a person’s cardiac health by increasing cell protection and reducing cell damage.
* Resveratrol helps to improve blood supply to cells.
* Resveratrol works to remove oxidants that are very active in the body.
The scientists and researchers have not stopped their study of red wine just yet; they are also studying how a person’s body actually absorbs the Resveratrol compound into their blood stream, especially in light of the fact that Resveratrol is largely inactivated in both the gut and the liver.
Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Queensland, Stephen Taylor, explained in a journal news release:
“Most of the Resveratrol in imbibed red wine does not reach the circulation. Interestingly, absorption via the mucous membranes in the mouth can result in up to around 100 times the blood levels, if done slowly rather than simply gulping it down.”
It appears that the Romans knew many thousands of years ago, that drinking red wine was most beneficial to the health of their people. This is proven in one Rome’s famous quotes: “In Vino Sanitas”, which translates into meaning “In Wine There is Health”.
It seems that the French people have also understood the benefits of wine for many centuries. French red wines provided a more superior health benefit due to their higher levels of antioxidants, when compared against German red wines in a recent study. This finding seems to accumulate towards what is known as the ‘French Paradox’; research indicates that in certain areas of France where the local diet is considerably higher in fat, people who drank a glass of red wine with their meals were less likely die of a heart attack than their American counterparts.
Previous studies conducted on the health benefits of red wine have shown that antioxidants that are present in the wine itself are help to prevent the oxidation process whereby reactive particles called “free radicals” cause damage to the body’s healthy cells. These same studies have also proven that Resveratrol has blood thinning properties that effectively prevent blood clots from forming and thereby preventing heart attacks, myocardial infarction and strokes. Since Resveratrol also regulates nitric oxide, which is the gas that helps smooth muscles to relax (by relaxing the smooth muscles blood is able to flow more smoothly) it also helps to prevent future heart attacks from occurring.
It is never too late to start enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner every night, in order to maximize Resveratrol’s health benefits.
Keep in mind though, that moderation is the key. Do not over drink as this will have the opposite effect.
If drinking red wine is not your thing, then you can always obtain the antioxidant power of Resveratrol by taking it supplemental pill form.
To date, there have been no recorded negative side effects for anyone who has either drank pure red wine or who have consumed it in the pill form.
Photo Credit: faeryboots
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan