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Healthy: Daily Red Wine

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You may have heard something about red wine possessing health benefits. Lets examine why these claims have been made. 

Red wine contains antioxidants and a substance called resveratrol. When consumed in small quantities, (4 to 8 oz daily), the combination of these antioxidants, resveratrol and the small dose of ethanol combine to produce an effect that helps the body mop up free radicals, while also helping to prevent heart disease. The exact mechanism of actions is not fully understood as of yet.
A Little Not a Lot
While consuming a small quantity daily is very healthy, consume any more than a small dose and the wine has a negative impact. This dose specific effect is shared by many drugs. The baby aspirin for example at the low daily dose of 81mg is very healthy for most people, while a higher dose tends to cause side effects. Trace minerals like chromium and selenium are required by the body in extremely small amounts. If you consume more than a small amount of chromium or selenium, these heavy metals are toxic.
The Dose Makes the Difference
The dose is what makes the difference between a medicine and a toxin. Many substances like nicotine have a sharp dose toxicity curve. Where a safe dose of nicotine might be 1 or 2 mg, 10 or more mg are toxic. This is the same for red wine. Where red wine is healthy to consume at 4 to 8oz per day, it starts to have a toxic impact at 3 or more glasses per day. The body can handle ethanol really well in small amounts. The flora in our GI produce small amounts of ethanol when digesting our food. There is a threshold value where the body can no longer handle the ethanol safely. Frequency is another thing to consider. Taking 1mg of nicotine 10 times per day is much safer than taking 10mg all at once. Drinking 1 6oz glass of wine per day for a week is much safer than drinking 42oz of wine all in one evening. Frequency is the combination of dose and time.
Red and Purple Grape Juice Too
The health benefits of red wine come from the antioxidants in the skin of the red grapes. These same grapes and their skin are used to produce red and purple grape juice. If you get real red grade juice, not food coloring semi-synthetic hfcs grade juice, you can get the same healthy antioxidants. Resveratrol is present in red and purple grape juice just the same as it is in wine. Missing from the grape juices is the small dose of ethanol that would have been consumed in a small serving of red wine. Small amounts of ethanol are healthy because the alcohol raises HDL “good” cholesterol, reduces the formation of clots, and helps to prevent arterial damage from LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Be Very Cautious
Drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems. In addition, drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause cardiomyopathy — weakened heart muscle — causing symptoms of heart failure in some people. If you have heart failure or a weak heart, you should avoid alcohol completely. If you take aspirin daily, you should avoid or limit alcohol, depending on your doctor's advice. You also shouldn't drink alcohol if you're pregnant. If you have questions about the benefits and risks of alcohol, talk to your doctor about specific recommendations for you.
If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

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