If you typically enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner every day, you might be unknowingly giving your body a health boost. Health experts claim that red wine, in moderation—a glass of wine a day or less (but not more, especially if you’re a woman)—may have some benefits (and risks) to your moderate take in. However, people who don’t drink are discouraged from doing so.
Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutrition consultant, says that research suggests that drinking red wine in moderation, about a glass a day, offers several benefits, for instance, it provides antioxidants, protects against heart disease and harmful inflammation, among other things.
According to WebMD, some studies show that moderate alcohol intake could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In one study, wine reduced the risk of diabetes for both men and women. Men who drank heavily, and even those who drink one to three days a week, had an increased risk of diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, red wine can help to normalise blood sugar. Drinking red wine can lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours, which may be beneficial for those with higher blood sugar levels. ‘But red wine shouldn’t be substituted for blood glucose management medications and treatment plans, it may be a helpful dietary addition in moderation.’
Ntamanga says that red wine has lots of polyphenols which act as antioxidants and has the power to respond to free radicals that might harm your cells and also reduce inflammation in the body, resulting in a boost of good cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol.
He also adds that consuming red wine in light quantity can also enhance mood. Studies have linked moderate alcohol intake to improved mood.
Medical News Today states that red wine can lower stress. A 2013 study on 5,505 people over seven years showed that those who drank between two to seven glasses of wine each week had lower levels of depression. They also reported that people who drank heavily were more at risk for depression.
Healthline states that a moderate intake of red wine is defined as one to two glasses per day. It is also recommended that you have at least one to two days a week without alcohol.
“Despite red wine being linked with some health benefits, none of them are worthy of encouraging alcohol consumption. There are many other effective ways to improve your health that don’t require you to consume something that can be harmful.”
Ntamanga discourages pregnant women, those planning to conceive and those breastfeeding, from taking alcohol, red wine inclusive, because drinking can lead to long-term harm to the baby. Drinking more than one glass a day may affect your baby’s sleep and development as alcohol passes through breast milk.
He also explains that with time, excessive alcohol consumption could lead to shortened breastfeeding duration due to reduced milk production.
Experts highlight that people who suffer from gout should not drink at all as it may worsen gout symptoms. Drinking too much alcohol of any kind is known to damage the liver, leading to conditions such as cirrhosis. Alcohol can even worsen conditions caused by a virus, like hepatitis C.
“The risks of excessive alcohol use include; heart problems, stroke, fatty liver disease, liver damage, mental health conditions, certain cancers, and pancreatitis, among others,” states Medical News Today.
A 2019 study in the journal Gastroenterology found that people who drank red wine had a greater diversity of good bacteria in their guts compared with people who did not drink red wine. The researchers did not see the same effect with white wine or other types of alcohol.
Ntamanga further notes that drinking wine has been linked with instigating asthma attacks, which may be due to salicylates in the wine and nitrites that have been added.
He adds that alcohol, including wine, can increase the amount of acid in your stomach. This can aggravate the lining of your stomach. When you drink in excess you may risk suffering from gastritis ulcers, reflux (heartburn). “Any stomach problems can make you feel sick, vomit or lose your appetite,” Ntamanga says.