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Wine – Myths or Health Miracles

As we say goodbye to English Wine Week, we ask… Is wine really good for you?!

As we sip away at our glass of wine, we rarely stop to think of its origins. Instead, most of us think about how enjoyable it is!

Wine has had its place in history for thousands of years, with archaeologists believing it dates back to as far as 2000 BC. It was believed to have originally been drunk by the wealthy and not drunk by the lower classes as it was such a luxury.

Gradually, its popularity spread (too right!) and it became more accessible to the general masses.  Even Hippocrates extolled its healing properties; such as aiding labour, upset stomachs, easing anxiety and as an anti-histamine.

We associate wine with Rome, as it has featured like that so much in media, however wine was actually adopted by the Romans from Greece, and it even found its way into the bible as having health properties when (in his first epistle to Timothy) Paul suggested it could help digestion.

Its sterilizing benefits were used during the 1892 cholera epidemic in Hamburg, as it was used in the water to make it safe.  Also in countries where safe water was difficult to find, wine (if available) was drunk instead.

Now some facts?

  1. Women’s absorption of alcohol is quicker than men’s. This is because females generally have a lower body water content and different levels of enzymes, so alcohol reacts differently. Generally, women therefore cannot drink as much!
  2. The NHS writes “Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day. Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day.” One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. A 250ml (large) glass of 12% red wine has about 3 units of alcohol. A 175ml (medium) glass has about two units. What does that mean? Well, putting it simply, as a ‘rule of thumb’, a medium glass of 12% alc. Red wine daily, is the limit for women a day, as that size glass has approx. 2 units in it. Men can drink a few tablespoons extra.
  3. Monks believed wine slowed the aging process and today scientists do too… Resveratrol, found in nuts, cranberries and the skins of red grapes, is believed to have anti ageing properties, improve circulation, reduce joint pain and lower cholesterol.
  4. Regular consumption of most alcoholic drinks is thought to increase the risk of breast cancer. However, red wine intake has the opposite effect, as red grapes can lower oestrogen and therefore lower the risk.

So, there we have it… A few facts and some history on one of our favourite tipples.  The reality is you should always drink within your limits, don’t drink and drive and, if you have a health condition, seek medical advice before you imbibe.  Notice I haven’t mentioned calories, as I feel that would warrant another blog, but it goes without saying that a little of what you fancy does you good (if it’s safe to do so!).

 

About Victoria

Victoria is a Consultant Nutritionist with a clinic at Standard Quay in Faversham. Find out more about Victoria and what she does by clicking here.

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