Health Benefits and Risk Associated With Wine

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Wine is an alcoholic drink or beverage that is made from juice of grapes. It is usually produce by fermentation of the grape juice by microorganism called yeast.

Other substances apart from grape juice can also be used to make wine; such substances include fermented juice of pears, apples, berries and some flowers extracts such as dandelions (Microsoft Encarta, 2008). Wine has been found to contain up to 85-89 percent of water and up to 10-14 percent of alcohol. Other substance found in wine include slight amount of acids, different types of aroma, and trace amount of flavor.

Wine consumption and making practices has been in existence for more than 8,000 years (Microsoft Encarta, 2008) and the practice of making and component used in wine has changed with time. Civilization in some regions of the world made people of those regions to regards wine as a gift from God, simply because they believe that it can protect people from some form of diseases. Some find it safer to drink compare to wine and milk because of the microbicidal effects of ethanol which is the alcohol found in most wine.

There are different species of wine grapes and they differ from one another in terms of color, size and shape of the grape and the grapes are usually grown under different conditions of climate (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008). Some of those species are vitis  Vinifera, V vinifera scions, V labrusca, V, rotundifolia. Wines vary with region in terms of production, the maturity of the grapes.

Health benefits and Risks associated with the consumption of wine

Over the past several decades, many studies have suggested that there are several health benefits and risk associated with the consumption of wine especially the red wine. Some studies suggested that wine exerts some effect on the lipid content of the blood while some suggested an increase in the risk of high blood pressure in relation to wine consumption.

The most implicated content of red wine is the flavenoids. This substance has been found to have an association with risk of developing dementia. According to Commenges et al “Since there are evidences supporting the hypothesis that diet rich in flavenoids cause reduce risk of dementia” (Cited in Luc, 2003).

Some studies consider the presence of other antioxidant as important factor when we consider the beneficial factors associated with consumption of red wine. The antioxidants were found to help reduce or protect the body from oxidative stresses which was found to be age dependent (Michelle, & Louise, 2006).

Those studies support the hypothesis that there’s a slight increase in the blood concentration of high density lipoprotein and anti-clotting factor which has been found to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system.

In a study published by Luc Letenneur (2003) where he consider the risk of Dementia and alcohol and wine consumption, he stated that there is an association between the disease state and the wine consumption in that, there is a reduction in the risk of developing dementia when a person consume alcohol or wine at a moderate level but not found to be causal in it effect. He also commented on the psychotropic effects of alcohol consumption.

Apart from the neurological diseases like dementia, there are different bodies of knowledge supporting the effects of alcohol on the cardiovascular and neurovascular system. Those researches tend to support moderate consumption of alcohol as in the case of wine, having a beneficial effect in helping to protect against hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke and gallstones in some group of people (Australia health, 2009).

The evidences suggested that there is reduction in the synthesis of endothelin-1 when red wine is consume in low quantity, this vasoactive peptide which is an important etiological factor in atherosclerosis and this suggests a protective effect that has been attributed to wine consumption( R corder et al, 2001).

Another important constituent of the red wine is procyanidins which is other major vasoactive peptides found to be cardioprotective (R corder et al, 2006). The protective effect of alcohol is more profound in individual above forty years of age showing that individual below these age groups are at more risk of the negatives effect of the alcohol when excessive quantity is being consumed.

Resveratrol is another important constituent of red wine. It is also known as phytoalexin which are known to be a major defense mechanism found in plants. It helps plants to fight invading microorganisms or fungus. It also helps plants to fight stress, injury, infections. This substance has a high concentration in red wine. The effect of this substance has been associated with infection control and ability to reduce tumor incidence in the body. Some evidences suggest resveratrol can help to reduce inflammation (Medicine.Net, 2009).

Red wine has also been suggested to help maintain the integrity of blood vessels according to the research study published in 1992 (cited in BBC Health, 2001), thereby helping to reduce some of the cardiovascular disease that are associated with the destruction of the blood vessels integrity such as atherosclerosis.

Health risks

Unlike the experiment of Luc Letenneur which suggests that moderate intake of red wine which is about 2 glasses per day decrease the risk associated with developing dementia, an opposing view was published by the healthjockey.com in an article titled “daily wine consumption increases the risk of cancer”.

The article focused on the study by the National cancer institute which suggested that no quantity of alcohol is good for the body, be it in form of wine or beer. It is also said that “the cause is the transformation of ethanol in wine to alcohol to acetaldehyde which is the main culprit in the etiologies of the genetic changes resulting in cancers” (healthjockey.com, 2009).

Wine can also cause oral cancers because of its alcoholic content. This has been ascribe to the dehydrating effects of the alcohol on the oral mucosa and this tend to potentiates the effects of other topical carcinogens consume by such individual.

The alcoholic content of wine when consume in excess can also cause the following conditions; liver cirrhosis which later progress to primary liver cell carcinoma, cancers such as breast, oral and colorectal cancers. It can also cause stroke, inflammatory heart disease, hypertension, and memory lapse. It also predisposes such an individual to road traffic accidents, falls, suicide and drowning.

Another important health risk factor associated with wine consumption is the presence of sulphites which if present in large quantity is toxic to the body. This compound is usually found in wine during fermentation in a small or trace amount but those that produce wine also add this compound to preserve the wine character, flavor and color (About.com, 2009).

The health implication of this compound is that it causes allergic reactions in susceptible patients such as patient with asthma. It tends to result in reactions such as nasal congestion, headaches, skin flush, broncho-constriction, nausea, abdominal pain and dizziness (About.com, 2009).

Drinking too much alcohol, be it in form of wine or beer has been attributed to increase the level of lipid in the blood especially the triglycerides which will subsequently predispose the individual to high blood pressure and increased calorie intakes (American Heart Association, 2009). Other health effects of excessive alcohol consumption are a risk factor in the etiology of the following diseases; cardiomyopathies, cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. A mother with addiction to alcohol predisposes the fetus to a condition termed fetal alcohol syndrome.

Conclusion

It’s a must for us to know that in the adolescent who much compare to the adults are at a greater health risk of consuming wine and should not be advice to consume any form of alcohol (beer and wine) because at this age, risk associated with consuming moderate alcohol outweighs the benefits they can derive from it.

When we consider the effects of addiction on those who consume alcohol we can infer that in the society at large the use of alcohol as a medication should never be encourage but should be left for the drinker’s discretion to decide what he or she will do or how he or she will consume alcohol.

Retrieved April 26, from www.about.com

AHA, (2009). Alcohol, wine and cardiovascular diseases; American Heart Association

Retrieved April 26, from www.hearthub.com

Australian Health, (2008). Excessive Alcohol consumption; Australian health

Retrieved April 26, 2009 from www.australianhealth.com

BBC.co.uk, (2001). Alcohol; Nutrition and healthy living. BBC Health

Retrieved April 28, 2009 from www.bbc.co.uk

Bisson, Linda F., and Butzke, Christian E. (2008). “Wine.” Microsoft® Student 2008 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2007.

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