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Red Wine & Health Issues

Red wine is even better for you...

It is known generally that alcohol suppresses the immune system. Paradoxically it is also known that red wine can be beneficial to health, for example in the prevention of coronary heart disease and some cancers. As yet it appears that no one has studied whether the alcohol content in red wine can counteract these benefits. A researcher, Susan Percival, at the University of Florida, has now conducted a preliminary study to find out if red wine affects the immune system.

A summary of the findings shows that the circulating white blood cells (the ones that fight infection) are unaffected by red wine consumption.

In this study, conducted over eight-weeks, mice were divided into four groups:

  • Teetotalers, who drank only water
  • Red wine drinkers, getting cabernet sauvignon
  • Another group of red wine drinkers getting muscadine wine
  • Ethanol drinkers, who received the same alcohol dose as the wine drinkers

The mice were given the equivalent of two or three glasses of wine or alcohol per day to simulate moderate drinking. After the mice had established a drinking habit, the mice were made slightly ill to see how their immune systems would respond.

The mice who were drinking the neat alcohol (ethanol) exhibited a suppressed immune response, whilst the red wine drinkers showed normal immunity. The ethanol drinkers had a lower count of white blood cells whils the red wine drinkers showed no reduction in white blood cell count. This suggests that there is something in red wine that prevents suppression of the immune system. So apparently it's alright to drink a glass or so of red wine. You can get the benefits without any apparent harm on immunity.

But why is this so? There are many different compounds in red wine and in grapes that could be contributing to the results, but she has not yet pinpointed which specific compound aids in maintaining normal immunity. One clue is that the rich pigment in red wine is due to antioxidants and blood tests showed that mice who drank wine had two times more antioxidant concentration that the other mice.

The comparison of muscadine and cabernet sauvingnon grape varieties proved inconclusive. Tests of enzymes in the liver showed some differences between how the liver processed the two wines. It is hoped that further studies will determine whether muscadine might have greater protective effects because of its greater concentration of antioxidants.

Do you have any update on issues relating to red wine and health. If so we would like to keep everybody abreast of current fact and opinion. For example, we will be pleased to include links to related sites.

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