What positive effects does wine have on health?
Even the ancient Greeks and Romans knew that wine can have a beneficial effect on health, whether as an additive in other remedies or pure. On the one hand, it was recognised for its calming effect on agitated patients up to a soporific, sedative effect when consumed in large quantities, and on the other hand for its stimulating and problem-relieving effect on the gastrointestinal tract and circulation. Furthermore, wine was used as a bath additive, as an antiseptic or as a diuretic.
Nevertheless, the side effects of too much wine consumption were also quite common.
Nowadays, in the age of intensive research into the mechanisms of metabolic processes in the human body and increasing education of patients and society on the subject of health and disease, more and more sufferers are asking themselves whether their illness has something to do with their lifestyle and how they can influence it by changing their lifestyle and eating habits. Especially in the case of diseases that are also collectively referred to as "diseases of affluence" and whose importance (both medically and economically) will increase more and more in the future, it is possible to significantly influence the course of the disease by changing one's lifestyle. These diseases include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus (commonly known as diabetes) and gout.
Active ingredients in wine
Wine consists mainly of water (80%); the rest is made up of a wide variety of substances, including colouring agents, odours, flavours and tannins, ethyl alcohol, various sugars (e.g. glucose, fructose), electrolytes and vitamins - especially vitamins B6(pyridoxine) and C(ascorbic acid), with vitamin B6 being essential for the functioning of the central nervous system and vitamin C having a protective function as a free radical scavenger. Not even a fifth of the daily requirement of these vitamins can be covered with one glass of wine per day.
Especially the phenols found in high concentrations in grape skins and seeds - here above all the flavonoids, salicylates and the tannins - as well as the alcohol are currently attributed with the positive effects of wine. Phenols are found in high concentration especially in red wine and in the wood of the barrels.
Wine consumption in moderation shows numerous positive effects in the human body. However, it is not true that a larger quantity also leads to better results. Many of the effects mentioned below are reduced again with greater consumption, and their desired positive effect becomes small in relation to the undesired effects. Also, the effects that can be attributed to the ethyl alcohol alone are additionally promoted by interactions between the alcohol and the phenols that have not yet been fully clarified.
Effects on heart and circulation
- Vasodilatation with slight lowering of blood pressure
- Antioxidant effect
- Lowering of harmful blood lipids (LDL)
- Inhibition of blood clotting (reduction of thrombosis risk)
- in case of excessive consumption: increased risk of heart attack and stroke
Phenols and alcohol show numerous common or complementary effects on heart and circulation, which can have a prophylactic effect on cardiovascular diseases when consumed in moderation (about one to two glasses per day as an upper limit). By lowering the blood fat level, especially LDL cholesterol (LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein) and raising the "good", protective HDL cholesterol (HDL: High Density Lipoprotein), by lowering blood pressure and the antioxidant effect (including scavenging reactive chemical radicals), the development of arteriosclerosis can be prevented or its development slowed down.
Calcified vessels can be the cause of circulatory disorders. In the worst case, the coronary vessels supplying the heart are affected and a heart attack - a deficient blood flow and supply to the heart muscle - occurs, which can be accompanied by irreversible damage to the heart.
Moderate inhibition of blood clotting can prevent clot formation (thrombosis), which occurs mainly in the lower leg. These clots can travel through the blood vessels, block vessels and thus lead to infarctions or strokes.
Too much wine (or other alcoholic beverages) can significantly reduce the effects mentioned above and thus lead to an increased risk of the diseases mentioned.
Effects on kidney disease and gout
- lower risk of kidney stone formation
- lower excretion of uric acid (risk of gout)
Gout can be subsumed under the umbrella term "diseases of affluence". It is a disease in which the concentration of uric acid in the blood is increased (hyperuricemia). If symptoms occur, it is called gout. The symptoms are typical in many cases: the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints (especially in the big toe joint) leads to a painful inflammation of these joints.
The cause is usually a disturbed, reduced excretion of uric acid via the kidneys as well as an excessive intake of uric acid precursors (purines) with food (here especially meat and pulses). Alcohol additionally inhibits the excretion of uric acid, which makes it understandable why alcohol consumption should be significantly limited in cases of hyperuricemia or gout. In addition, the diet should be changed.
Other effects of wine
- Increase of the oestrogen level (reduction of the risk of osteoporosis)
- Stimulation of the mind
- Stimulation of digestion
- Reduction of the risk of cancer
Wine, especially alcohol, is capable of interfering with the human hormonal balance. The increased production of oestrogen in both women and men is well known. Reduced oestrogen levels lead to the risk of osteoporosis - a decalcification of the bones that can be accompanied by significant loss of stability - in women of advanced age (after their periods have ended). Moderate wine consumption can slow down the development of osteoporosis.
Alcohol also increases the production of the thyroid gland, the pancreas and the sex glands. Just think of a candlelight dinner with his or her sweetheart, where a nice bottle of wine is not to be missed: to lift the mood and libido for a nice evening.
A glass of champagne or wine may also seem positive in other situations. One often hears that one should drink a glass of champagne or wine before an exam. The alcohol causes the vessels to dilate (see above on the effect on the cardiovascular system). The brain is better supplied with blood and more efficient (increased power of concentration). Not to be forgotten: Wine has a calming effect on the stressed exam candidate. In addition, the lowered inhibition threshold promotes talkativeness, which, however, is not always an advantage.
Wine stimulates the digestive tract. The stomach secretes more acid and intestinal movements are stimulated. This makes a heavy dinner in particular much more digestible.
Red wine in particular, which contains significantly more phenol than white wine, can act as a protective factor against malignant tumours due to its antioxidant effect (radical scavenger).