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Showing posts from November, 2009

more on the new French Paradox

I know we have covered the new French paradox recently but I came across a fact that put it into sharp focus: No country in the world has cut its alcohol consumption more over the past 4 decades than France except the United Arab Emirates, where even possession of alcohol is banned.* Even more surprising is that beer and spirits consumption has held steady, so what has vintners really seeing red is that the reduction is entirely in wine. Talk about a paradox!

Chalk it up to the disappearance of the leisurely meal. A key to healthy drinking is to consider wine as a part of a meal – in fact I have an entire chapter in Age Gets Better with Wine titled “Wine is a Food.” The average French meal is now said to be down to 38 minutes, barely an appetizer and aperitif before. And the French apparently frequent McDonald’s more than any other country in Europe. But others are taking up the slack: Spain formally classified wine as a food in 2003. And Spain has become not only one of the world’s gr…

The problem with resveratrol

We continue to hear a lot about resveratrol these days. If you follow news releases on wine and health topics (which I do so you don’t have to) it seems that all of the goodness of wine can be attributed to this miracle molecule from wine grape skins. It is a pretty compelling story when you look at all of the basic science research on the subject, which offers tantalizing prospects of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, even the common cold (see below). But there’s a problem.

To begin with, scientists first looked to wine-derived compounds because of all of the data showing a correlation between moderate drinking and lowered chances of having any of the above-mentioned diseases. When researchers discovered that resveratrol activates enzymes called sirtuins that extend lifespan in certain organisms, the door to a whole new area of scientific inquiry was opened. What resveratrol does in a Petri dish seemed to explain the benefits of drinking wine, and so now…

Cold & flu season ahead: Got wine?

By all accounts, the coming flu season is going to be a doozy unless we all get our H1N1 vaccination soon. There’s always the plain old cold too of course. I can never remember whether we are supposed to starve a cold and feed a fever or the other way around, but new findings suggest that regardless of the symptoms, respiratory viruses can be kept at bay by drinking wine.

It’s not as farfetched as it sounds. A few years ago, researchers in Spain looked into the question of how wine drinking habits relate to the risk of colds. Their subjects were 4000 faculty members of five universities across the country, who were tracked during cold & flu season for the number and severity of illnesses. When the data was cross-referenced to drinking patterns, they found that consumers of at least 2 glasses of wine a day were only half as likely to contract a viral illness as nondrinkers, and the correlation was stronger for red wine drinkers than for white. What’s more, the duration of illness wa…