I recently started wondering to myself what the benefits of drinking wine every night are. No, I’m not an alcoholic, hear me out. I just sent the last 10 days in Spain and one of the biggest things I learned about this culture is they not only love their food, specifically carbs, but they love their wine. So it got me thinking, are there benefits to drinking a glass of wine every night? The more I looked into this across my 20 hours of travel back to the United States I found some pretty compelling reasons why you might want to start having a glass of wine every night. I know, you’re excited. Let’s get into it already!
1. Wine May Improve Gut Health
Some research supports that consuming red wine in moderation can support the intestinal microbiome, which can contribute to positive overall health effects, such as increased cholesterol metabolism and reduced adiposity. The reason? The polyphenols in red wine. Reservatrol specifically can inhibit lipogenesis and increased insulin-mediated uptake of glucose. Another polyphenol that supports immune system health is Barnesiella, which studies have found in wine drinkers, they have a higher microbiota. [R] That being said, your overall BMI can contribute to your overall physiological response to moderate consumption of red wine and that there does need to be more randomized studies to determine whether red wine has a positive, more conclusive, impact on the gut microbiome in a positive way.
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2. Wine May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Red wine has been related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) as found in experimental studies and meta-analyses. The reason? The presence of polyphenolic compounds such as resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and anthocyanin. Resveratrol is considered the most effective wine compound with respect to the prevention of CHD because of its antioxidant properties. The mechanisms responsible for its putative cardioprotective effects would include changes in lipid profiles, reduction of insulin resistance, and decrease in oxidative stress of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). [R] By reducing risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease while also having a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance and oxidative stress, the research may be in favor of red wine for heart health, after all, in moderate consumption.
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3. Wine May Increase Bone Density
Trying to keep your bones up to par? Then wine might be in the cards for you. According to an Australian study, it was found that red wine can contribute to stronger bone health in ages 50-80. As we age, bone density can decline, which can set up older adults to experience osteoporosis pretty significantly, especially in women. While yes, excessive drinking can contribute to impaired physical function and lead to falls, which then in turn lead to higher rates of injury, moderate consumption of alcohol has found mixed results. In the study itself, over 900 men and women were followed over a two year period who consumed beer, spirits, and red wine. The results were difficult to explain, but some suggest that phytochemical, such as the polyphenols found in the skin of grapes, can contribute to healthy bones and in turn so does wine. However, we wouldn’t exactly suggest you should down a glass of wine for the sake of bone health. Maybe leave that to your resistance training, instead.
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4. Wine May Improve Cognitive Function
As we age and our bodies oxidize our cognitive function declines. However, a more recent study followed 1,226 men and women in Japan during 2016 and 2017 from the ages of 75-87 (an age group with high cognitive decline). Cognitive function was measured and noted that the individuals who reported drinking alcohol one to six days a week had higher Montreal Cognitive Assessments (MoCAs) which is a test to measure mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the average score across the drinking group was 23.6 points and showed a significant increase in cognitive function compared to those who didn’t drink. [R] While this study did focus more on consumption, rather than frequency, the researchers do suggest that the consumption should remain in the moderate range of 14g per day for women and 28g day for men.
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5. Wing Might Decrease Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
A study that included nearly 312,000, with an 11 year follow up, found that when the study participants consumed no more than 14g (women) and 28g (men) per day at mealtime(s), they were in a lower risk category for developing type 2 diabetes. [R] However, it is important to note that the benefits were when the wine or other alcohol was consumed with meals as opposed to alone with no food. That being said, if you’re looking to reduce your risk of having type 2 diabetes and you do not drink wine or other alcohol, you probably shouldn’t start. Already a drinker? It may be beneficial to switch to wine, and moderate amounts of it drank with food, to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
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The Downsides Of Drinking A Glass Of Wine Every Night
Now, I know, here comes the bad news. Womp womp. Unofortunately the research supporting the benefits of drinking a glass of wine every night are limited and inconclusive. The support behind drinking wine every night is one of those things that public health officials have a hard time supporting, but also have a hard time not supporting. The way you can look at it is that if you don’t drink, you probably should continue not drinking. If you do drink? Switching to low sugar, antioxidant red wine, could be a healthier alternative to empty calorie beers or over consuming hard liquor. Now that we’ve outlined some of the potential health benefits, let’s look at the downsides of drinking a glass of wine every night.
1. Wine May Cause Poor Sleep Quality
Unfortunately even small amounts of alcohol, or red wine, before heading to sleep can actually disrupt your body’s natural sleep ability. Why is that? Well, alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. [R] While yes, alcohol can make you sleepy and relax you in a way, when it comes to sleep time it is more of a sedative and can contribute to light sleeping, insomnia, and even increased symptoms of sleep apnea. While this is seen in studies across the alcohol board, the true impact of alcohol on sleep does depend on the individual and their health.
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2. Wine May Increase The Risk Of Depression
With regularly practiced habits, like drinking, can come increasing habits, like alcohol and wine consumption. While some people can just have a glass a night, others cannot, and a glass of wine can lead to, overtime, two, three, or even a bottle. Coupled with alcohol intake can come along depressive mood states, feeling low, and feelings like this that don’t go away, progressing into depression and drinking can only make these symptoms worse. Alcohol, regardless of the type, can alter the balance of chemicals of your brain, which also includes your happy hormones and frontal cortex aka the pleasure center. Alcohol also slows down the CNS and you can develop a tolerance of alcohol, leading to alcohol dependence, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and unfortunately, suicidal thoughts in more extreme cases.
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3. Wine May Increase Caloric Intake
All alcohol is an empty calorie, regardless of whether or not it comes from polyphenol rich wine. Alcohol consumption, regularly and in excess, can reduce the body’s ability to burn fat, make you feel hungry by mimicking hunger hormones, and lead to poor decision making about what you put in your body as fuel after drinking (drunchies, anyone??). All this can lead to excess caloric consumption, which you guessed it, can lead to weight gain. Since your body treats alcohol like poison, alcohol gets prioritized in the metabolism and metabolic pathways. This means that it can take nearly 12-36 hours for your body to shut down or slow bodily processes, like fat burning, to prioritize removing alcohol from your system. [R] Yikes.
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Drinking A Glass Of Wine Every Night: Takeaway
All in all, we recommend all good things in moderation. Too much of a good thing (and bad) can be negative for the body and the mind. In this case, if you do already drink every night or often at that, switching to red wine might be a better alternative and you may see improved health benefits in the aforementioned areas, such as your gut, bones, and cardiovascular function. However, alcohol is alcohol, regardless of where it comes from, which can lead to some downsides and health takeaways, such as increased weight gain, poor sleep quality, and depressive mental health.
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