The Truth About Wine and Your Health

Pouring wine. Isolated on white background. drink

How many of us come home from work and uncork a bottle of wine or crack-open a beer and relax? Let’s put it this way, a lot of us do.

America Drank 4.24 Billion Bottles of Wine in 2016 — VinePair
Millennials drink nearly half of all wine in the U.S. — USA Today
Beer Remains the Preferred Alcoholic Beverage in the U.S. — Gallup

What’s wrong with drinking one glass of wine every night after work? Red wine is supposed to be good for our heart — just ask the French. Plus, drinking is relaxing and fun. They don’t call it Happy Hour for nothing.

Note: it might be resveratrol (a natural plant compound) found in the skin of red and purple grapes that’s good for your heart, not the wine.

So, what’s wrong with drinking alcohol? Simply put, it’s a toxin.

When alcohol is broken down in the body, it’s converted to a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde can damage human cells and DNA. Alcohol also creates free radicals in the body, which can cause cells to oxidize and grow out of control and become cancerous. Indeed, even moderate drinking—one drink a day for women—can increase their risk of breast cancer.

Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor to at least seven types of cancer, including cancers of the blood, breast, mouth and neck, and digestive tract. — LiveScience

But there’s more bad news about drinking. A massive new study, out just in time for Labor Day, may make us want to put a cork in it for good.

It found that no amount of drinking is beneficial for the human body. The researchers stressed that the risks of alcohol consumption outweigh all health benefits. Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of global health at the University of Washington and the senior author of the report, offered a sobering message.

People should no longer think that a drink or two a day is good for you. What’s best for you is to not drink at all.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, it’s just one study,” consider this.

The study was co-authored by 512 researchers from 243 institutions and published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. Their research reviewed studies from 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2016. That’s a drop-the-mic kind of study.

Alcohol and your brain
Sure, spirits lift your spirit while you’re drinking them, but what happens to your brain after the party isn’t nearly as much fun.

As our body breaks down the chemicals found in alcohol, the balance of mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters in our brain can get disrupted. This can cause brain cells to shrink over time, which can lead to depression, short-term memory loss, and even dementia.

Heavy drinking over time can change
“Dude, Where’s My Car?” to
“Dude, Do I Have a Car?”

Heart disease
Heavy drinking—defined for men as more than four drinks per day and for women as more than three drinks a day—can make it harder for your heart to pump freshly oxygenated blood through your body. This condition is called cardiomyopathy, and it can result in an irregular heartbeat, fatigue, swelling in the legs and feet, and trouble breathing.

Diabetes & Pancreatitis
Heavy drinking confuses the pancreas and causes it to secrete digestive enzymes internally instead of sending them out to the small intestine. The result is an increased risk of the painful, and deadly, pancreatic cancer.

Alcohol is empty calories, and no one wants a beer gut. But drinking too much can lead to obesity.

Suppresses Immune Function
Alcohol suppresses our immune system function, making us more susceptible to common colds and infections.

There’s More
If the Happy Hour goes on too long, heavy drinking may increase your chances of getting liver disease, having a stroke, high blood pressure, pneumonia, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, malnourishment, and vitamin deficiencies.

People who report drinking in moderation tend to be very different from people who don’t drink at all. They tend to be a healthier population, they tend to exercise more, they tend to be more affluent, they tend to have more access to health care. — Robert Brewer, The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sltrib

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Non-alcoholic suggestions
If you’re looking for something bubbly and festive without the alcohol, Martinelli’s Organic Sparkling Apple Cider is a good choice. If you crave the taste of wine, but don’t want the alcohol, try Leitz, Eins Zwei Zero Riesling. Town & Country put together their list of “6 Best Non-Alcoholic Wines to Drink Now.” And for you beer lovers, here’s Esquire’s “10 Not-Bad Non-Alcoholic Beers.” Cheers!

Feature image credit Gannamartysheva @iStock

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