The holiday season is a great opportunity to take a well-deserved break and catch up with family and friends. If you are one of those who likes to celebrate with a drink or two, recent studies have shown that red wine really is the alcohol with the most associated health benefits.
The secret: resveratrol
Red is wine is unique because of its content of resveratrol, a phytochemical compound found almost exclusively in the skin of grapes. Numerous studies have shown that these compounds are capable of influencing many activities that affect the development of chronic illnesses. In addition to the well-documented benefits of resveratrol on the levels of cholesterol and proper blood circulation, two important factors needed to prevent heart disease, two recent studies have illustrated the huge health potential that this compound has. One study showed that resveratrol has anti-cancer abilities by blocking the growth of tumour cells in the mammary glands; as well, the compound can act on the metabolism to counter the negative effects of being sedentary on the development of insulin resistance.
These results suggest that resveratrol could serve as a model for the development of cancer-fighting agents that could be used to treat women who have become resistant to hormone therapies.
A recent study, however, has shown that women must remain particularly prudent with alcohol, as regular consumption, even moderated, is associated with a slight increase (10%) in the risk of breast cancer. Those who wish to drink must therefore ensure that moderate drinking (one glass per day) is done along with a diet rich in vegetables, the maintenance of a healthy weight and regular physical activity to counteract the increased risk.
In another area of research, French researchers looked at the impact of resveratrol on muscular function in extremely sedentary conditions. We have known for years that astronauts, who are very inactive when in zero gravity situations, have serious atrophy problems and loss of bone mass when they return from space. By using an animal model mimicking situations of prolonged inactivity, French researchers observed that the administration of resveratrol to these animals was enough to preserve body mass, as well as the metabolic activity of muscle cells.
This is important, as these muscles consequently maintain their sensitivity to insulin and prevent hyperglycemia that can lead to type 2 diabetes. In other words, these results suggest that resveratrol copies the positive impacts of physical activity and could therefore counteract the negative effects of being sedentary.
Red wine is obviously not a universal medication that can prevent disease by itself. Like we have said repeatedly, not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and having a good diet are also needed to keep healthy. But with those factors in place, the moderate consumption of red wine is another way to combine pleasure and prevention of certain chronic illnesses. Cheers to your health!
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