Having a glass of red wine with dinner provides several health benefits. Believe it or not, the alcohol produced by the fermentation process is one of them. Research suggests there may be a link between moderate alcohol consumption and better sensitivity to insulin, improved waste removal in the brain, and the prevention of blood clots.
Red Wine to the Rescue
The real winning nutrient in red wine is resveratrol, a polyphenol that acts like an antioxidant. Resveratrol neutralizes free oxygen radicals, helping to prevent damage to blood vessels. It also reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol.
Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid found in red wine that is highly bioavailable, meaning it is absorbed and used by your body effectively. Another antioxidant in red wine, catechin, has been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which can play important roles in immunity as well as in maintaining overall health.
Not for Everyone
While these benefits are noteworthy, for those who have a personal or family history of addiction or alcoholism, drinking red wine for your health is not advisable. And it must be emphasized that moderate drinking is the key to accessing health benefits from red wine.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate consumption of alcohol as one five-ounce glass of wine per day for adult women (21 years-old or older) and two five-ounce glasses for adult men. The wine should not have alcohol content greater than 12 percent. Also, it is noted that this amount is not intended as an average over several days, but rather the amount consumed on any single day.
The difference in amounts for men and women is due to women having less water in their bodies, the amount of female sex hormones they have, and their usually smaller body size compared to men. Some research also suggests that drinking small-to-moderate amounts of beer, white wine, and even tequila can be good for your health. The jury is still out regarding whether these alcoholic drinks provide enough health benefits to outweigh their damaging effects.
The Bad News
Of course, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a myriad of health issues, including cirrhosis, dementia, nerve damage, pancreatitis, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction. Even the occasional over-indulgence can be problematic, bringing with it a headache, body pain, and nausea—also known as a hangover.
Too much alcohol dehydrates the body.
"Of course, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a myriad of health issues, including cirrhosis, dementia, nerve damage, pancreatitis, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction."
That’s why you reach for a big glass of water the day after drinking too much. Alcohol also decreases the body's production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is why you urinate more when you are drinking. If you vomit, you become even more dehydrated. Besides dehydration, heavy drinking depletes the body of many nutrients, trace minerals, and vitamins.
Helping the Hungover
You can give your body what it needs to repair itself before, while, or after you drink. That is not to say you should ever drink more than moderately. But if you do end up overdoing it a little, here is what your body will need to help you feel better:
- Electrolytes: potassium, sodium, and magnesium
- Amino acids: s-acetyl glutathione
- Antioxidants: vitamins C and E
- Methyl-vitamins: vitamins B9 (folate) and B12
- Chelated minerals: zinc, manganese, and chromium
When you drink too much, your liver has to work overtime to remove the toxins in your blood. If your liver can’t keep up, the toxins build up. You will also want to support the detoxification by your liver with these:
- Milk thistle extract
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
For those with leaky gut syndrome or problems with inflammation and food sensitivities, it is best not to drink in excess. When an abundance of alcohol is introduced into the microbiome, already inflamed or damaged endothelium of the intestines has a hard time healing.
Whether you have digestive or gastrointestinal issues or not, we all know that too much alcohol is bad for everyone. Before deciding to include a glass or two of red wine once a day as a way to support your health, consult your healthcare practitioner.