Barrels and Saints

While the introduction of the double-blind study into our modern scientific world has been but a blip on the radar screen in the 7000 year-old history of wine, it has given renewed vigor to the case that wine not only makes you feel younger, it actually can help prolong your life. The Italians have a saying that One barrel of wine can work more miracles than a church full of saints. And the Italians arguably have a longer running relationship with wine than any other modern culture.

When the evidence came to light that wine, especially red wine, has so many benefits for long-term physical health that some researchers have asserted it is more detrimental to your health to not drink it, the Europeans shrugged and the Americans gasped. The French and the Italians view wine as the water of life. It is deeply entrenched in the cultural psyches of both areas as a vehicle by which you achieve health and live a good, meaningful existence. To not drink a glass or two of wine every day at every meal excluding breakfast is to be three-quarters of the way to dead.

The Americans were flabbergasted at the news because it exposed what Danish researchers dubbed the French Paradox. A scientific team in Denmark was the first to uncover the remarkable phenomenon that, on average, the French consume about 30% more fat than Americans in the form of cheeses, butter and meat. However, the French have far lower cholesterol levels than Americans and a startlingly 40% fewer heart attacks. The researchers found the moderate and daily consumption of red wine was the missing link in the American diet.

In research that has been reproduced and expanded upon throughout the world, it has been confirmed that the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and immune system boosters that are contained within red wine can add-up to substantial long-term health benefits - especially for individuals at risk for heart disease as the result of a high fat, high cholesterol diet. New research is beginning to uncover the presence of powerful antioxidants in red wine, including veratrole and catechin among others, that are known to reduce blood clotting, reduce risk of heart attacks, and even help combat some forms of cancer.

This is all of course assuming that wine is consumed in moderation, just as the Europeans do, defined as roughly a glass or two of wine every day. Any alcohol consumed in excess can lead to serious health problems including heightened risks for severe liver, kidney and psychological disorders.

Additional Nutritional Benefits

Research has determined that what distinguishes the health benefits of wine from other alcoholic beverages is the notable presence of tannins and esocyanine which are composed of polyphenols. Polyphenols have a positive effect on the vascular system as well as stimulating antiviral and antibacterial responses in the body.

The implication for women is particularly important, as a Harvard University study has found that a glass of red wine a day can reduce heart attacks for females by 25%. In addition, wine has been found to lessen and in some cases bring a cessation to the degenerative effects of osteoporosis.

And the benefits do not stop there. No pun intended: wine seems to go to the very heart of what ails us. It aids in digestion, stimulates the appetite and combats neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. It has even been found to help combat both Anorexia and Obesity.

Taking the Load Off

The benefits to the heart, bones and immune system not withstanding, wine helps address the big kahuna of problems in most people's lives: stress. While it's true that alcohol in of itself reduces emotional stress when consumed in moderation, wine adds an additional quality that is reflected in how it is enjoyed. In Europe, wine is always consumed at meals (among other times). Sitting down for a lunch and dinner is a time to relax and enjoy your food and surroundings. A glass or two of wine helps promote this sense of taking a time-out to enjoy your life. There is no better time in a hectic day of work than at meals to give your mind, body and soul a respite from all of the demands of a modern lifestyle.

Wine is a way to take a step back, to remember why you're living in the first place, a way to savor your life, if you will. In this way, making it a part of your daily eating rituals can do as much or more for your health as a counselor, herbal remedy or television program.

White Wine is Wonderous Too

Although red wine tends to get most of the attention because many of its inherent health secrets are locked within the magic of its grape skin, white wine carries some important benefits as well. Grapes, with or without their skins, seem to be one of the great foods in our world that work particularly well for human biology. White wine, like red wine, has significant anti-inflammatory properties derived from appropriate levels of tyrosol and caffeic acid. Because the process that creates white wine retains many of the antioxidants that are found in red wine, it is also important for its anticancer qualities, as well as its ability to improve blood circulation and increase oxygen supply.

It's How You Feel AND How You Look

As the evidence mounts through the years and wine becomes generally accepted as a substance that can prolong life or at the very least, reduce the risks to life, it makes sense that people would to start ask the question: if wine is so good for my insides, what about my outsides?

The French believe they are in the lead to answer that question, with the release of widely available beauty products that are made from the seeds of grapes. Researchers in France have compiled a guide, or text book, that outlines the various treatments derived from grape seeds, grape skins, wine and their respective benefits. The new trend has been dubbed vinotherapy. Interested in getting a Merlot Rap? Have your entire body rapped in various ingredients, not the least of which is Merlot grape skin. From this end of the spectrum to a simple grape-seed cream you can apply to the face, Spas throughout the world are beginning to explore the benefits of grapes as detoxifiers, strong andtioxidants and cell regenerators.

Though there is a great deal of research left to be done in the wide world of Wine and Health, there has been virtually nothing that suggests wine, when consumed in moderation, can do any harm. With thousands of years of history and a venerable reputation as a substance that adds enjoyment, meaning and especially vigor to life, there is every reason in the world to make wine a regular part of your day, as certain as the sunset and just as miraculous.