You might have heard or read different articles that specifically align physical activity with alcoholic beverages or that tend to claim them having health benefits, when in fact, they are not. The supposed benefits are usually taken entirely out of context, and people find an excuse for consuming alcohol and skipping the gym. This article will focus specifically on wine and clear up some frequent doubts about it.
Remember the Context
Let's first talk about a series of factors that apply to every alcoholic beverage.
- One cannot claim any health benefits in beverages that have an alcohol volume greater than 1.2%. Most wines have a volume between 5% and 15%, so they legally fall into that category.
- The promotion of alcoholic drinks serves interest for the influential pressure groups. And since they cannot claim its benefits medically, the media, newspapers, news stories, social networks, etc., are used to promote them.
- In the US, a significant percentage of the population is a regular drinker. Many traffic and work accidents are directly related to excessive alcohol consumption, so promoting alcoholic beverages as healthy in a society with plenty of excuses to lift the elbow seems to be a disastrous message at the health level.
- The alcohol dwarfs any possible benefit that alcoholic beverages have (for whatever nutrient) in them.
Is Wine Cardioprotective?
This point has become a universally accepted perspective getting to the point that some doctors recommend 1-2 glasses of wine a day for the improved cardiovascular health of their patients.
Is that right? Does wine improve cardiovascular health?
It is quite difficult to be conclusive because of the lack of symmetry between the different scientific studies. There is no doubt that there is much evidence linking moderate wine consumption with a reduction in cardiovascular risk, but the evidence pointing to this relationship is almost entirely observational.
Remember that correlation does not mean causality and that if a person drinks alcohol and does exercise, it does not mean that one is caused by the other. We are going to put a clear example of this so that it is understood.
The hottest weather is when more people decide to go to the beach, and the mere fact that there are more people on the beach makes it statistically more likely that more people will drown. Similarly, when the temperature rises, people consume ice cream more. So, does this makes a correlation between ice cream consumption and drowning? Sounds foolish, right?
Likewise, the veracity of the claim that wine is cardioprotective is doubtful.
Is it the wine that reduces mortality from cardiovascular diseases, or is there other factors involved in this health improvement, and is the wine confused between them?
It could be possible that people with better cardiovascular health drink wine in moderation. It would be more reasonable to say that such people have several characteristics that incline them to a better level of general health. They may:
- Have more purchasing power
- Have more general awareness at the health level or
- Smoke less
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
- Eat less ultra-processed foods
- Follow a diet more reduced in total calories
- Be more active and do more sports
- Have more regular hours and have less daily stress
That said, there are many studies regarding the relationship between wine (or alcohol in general) and cardiovascular health.
For example, a 2014 systematic review concluded that a reduction in alcohol consumption, even in people with reduced or moderate consumption, is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
On the other hand, millions of people die due to the harmful use of alcohol every year. It is also a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and disorders, including mental and behavioural disorders and non-communicable diseases and injuries.
Recently, causal relationships between harmful use and the incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS have been determined.
Beyond the health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol causes significant social and economic losses, both for individuals and society.
It is also often said that moderate consumption of alcohol (and wine) reduces population mortality. However, observational studies that find this relationship suffers from the same problem discussed above. Moderate alcohol consumption does not lead to a reduction in mortality; there may be other factors involved.
Wine and Gym
There have been articles bombarding the internet, saying that one glass of wine is equivalent to an hour in the gym. This creates a misconception that people who do not want to go to the gym can drink a glass of red wine.
You might have raised an eyebrow in disbelief reading this, but the reality is that many people believe as it appears in the media and, above all, because they just need an excuse for not having to gym.
Let's discuss this in the light of the evidence:
Several research studies have been conducted to study the relation between physical activity and alcohol (or wine, in particular), but their findings have been asymmetrical. Regardless of this fact, there has been a universal perspective that alcohol consumption positively correlates with physical activity. A recent systematic review assessed this relationship and found that majority of the past research studies imply that alcohol and physical activity can go hand in hand among young people.
However, many recent pieces of research challenge this perspective. A recent observational study examined this relationship among college students who wore accelerometers for a period of 14 days for data collection. The study found no link between alcohol and physical activity.
Another study rejected the positive relationship perspective and found physical activity as less critical in alcohol consumption.
In conclusion, wine consumption is an epidemiological marker. Health improvement or the increased physical activity is not directly associated with it but is due to many other factors. People who drink moderately, paradoxically, indicate better habits than those who drink a lot or do not drink at all.
If you weren't drinking, don't start to achieve the supposed benefits of wine. A good diet, rich in nutrients along with a training routine, and a good rest is what you should focus on.