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  • Wine Vs. Beer Or Alcohol Spirits: Wine Reduces Mortality Risk, Other Drinks Don’t. But Don’t Think This Gives You License To Get Sloshed Every Day. Red Wine Pill Would Be Better.

    February 23, 2020: by Bill Sardi

    Take a gander at the chart below.  Data shows when intake of all alcoholic beverages is combined (wine, beer, spirits), only wine at modest intake levels (3-5 drinks/week to 1-2 drinks a day) markedly lowers the risk for death compared to other alcoholic beverages (purple).

    When broken down by type of alcoholic beverage, data shows only modest wine consumption results in a striking decline in mortality
    (-27%) compared to beer (increased risk for death: +37%-153% and alcohol spirits (increased risk +9-73%). [Alcohol spirits are defined as 20+% beverage alcohol content: whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, sake, brandy.]

    At high intake of ANY alcoholic beverage including wine, mortality risk increased.  But at modest intake levels only wine (-27% relative risk) reduced mortality rates compared to modest intake of beer (-2%) and alcohol spirits (-3%).


    (Data Extrapolated)

    0-1 Drinks/ Week 1-3 Drinks/ Week 3-5 Drinks/ Week 1-2 Drinks/ Day 2-3 Drinks/ Day 3+ Drinks/ Day
    Alcohol*(Any Kind) +27% +18% No Increase -3% +5% +21% +  42%
    Wine**   -27% +  9% +  73%
    Beer**   -2% +37% -153%
    Spirits**   -3% +  9% +  73%
    *Data PLoS Medicine Journal June 19, 2018
    **Data Journal Epidemiology & Community Health Vol. 62 (Issue 7), 2009

    Now before you think this gives you license to go to Trader’s Joe’s and purchase a case of that $2/bottle wine, it’s pretty easy to get seduced by any alcohol beverage because it relaxes and then puts you to sleep (and can result in a homocysteine brain storm the next morning– a hangover).

    Anti-habituation properties of wine

    One of the other unmentioned benefits of red wine over other alcoholic beverages is it contains molecules that block GABA at the site of its receptor on the surface of a brain cell.  Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a nerve transmitter that relaxes the mind.  Given that alcohol targets a receptor on the surface of brain cells (GABA receptor) that can begin to turn alcohol consumption into a habitual craving, wine has anti-habituation properties.  Molecules in wine (resveratrol, quercetin, catechin, others) dull the effects of alcohol on GABA in brain cells, which may avert alcohol dependency.


    Actually, this is population-based study comparing wine, beer and spirits and only pertains to incidence of health or disease in groups, not you as an individual.  So, keep that in mind.

    Wine nullifies adverse effects of smoking and diabetes

    Second, a person may live a lot longer than this study indicates (about 5 years longer) if they also never smoke tobacco, maintain weight control and avoid diabetes.  However, the molecules in wine (but not the alcohol) are an equalizer, overcoming some of the adverse effects of all of these factors (smoking and diabetes).

    Hold up on red wine

    But before you get overly excited about red wine, I do not know of a habitual wine drinker that didn’t eventually begin to exhibit liver problems (elevated enzymes and cirrhosis) and have other mental and relationship problems as well.  Wine vs. beer or spirits consumption does not avert alcohol-associated liver problems among heavy drinkers.  But among modest drinkers, wine on a comparison basis with other alcohol beverages reduces risk for liver problems.

    Low and no alcohol wines

    What often goes unrecognized is that women do not excrete alcohol in their urine as rapidly as men do and can become inebriated much easier.  There is low alcohol wine produced just for women.  There is also alcohol-free (0.0%) wine.

    Unfiltered wine that was produced centuries ago had 30 times more of these protective polyphenols than commercially available wines today.  Fining (filtration) of wine removes polyphenols.  So natural wine in days gone by was truly medicine by virtue of its concentration of these molecules.

    Alcohol-free wine utilizes alcohol fermentation to extract and concentrate molecules called polyphenols 1000-fold over grape juice.  Then the alcohol is removed.

    A study published in Circulation Research found dealcoholized red wine decreases blood pressure better than standard red wine.  Remarkably and unexpectedly, resveratrol and its accompanying molecules in grape wine, suppress arterial plaque accumulation (atherosclerosis) without altering circulating cholesterol levels.

    Red wine molecules sans alcohol

    It is not necessarily the antioxidant properties of red wine molecules themselves but their ability to activate endogenous enzymatic antioxidants (catalase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase).  A report published in Pharmacological Research concludes: “the activity of antioxidant enzymes is not due to the alcohol content in wine but the polyphenolic composition.”   Therefore, more concentrated sources of polyphenolic molecules like resveratrol, quercetin, fisetin, such as provided in herbal nutraceuticals, would be advantageous than grape juice or red wine.  As such, lab dish studies may not duplicate the full health properties of these molecules.

    So now we are close to concluding, skip the wine and take a pill that offers the concentrated molecules provided in wine.  Drinking wine occasionally for social purposes is then the desired alternative.  Though the Bible suggests drinking a bit of wine “for the stomach’s sake.”  A properly dosed red wine pill provides 35X + more polyphenolic red wine molecules than an entire bottle of red wine.


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