The Frenchwoman’s Guide to Staying Slim (Hint: Red Wine)

by Cindy Bogart

Of course, if you have been to Paris or any other part of France or read Ernest Hemingway you may marvel at how Coco Chanel-slender Frenchwomen are.  What is their secret?  Ask and likely you’ll be told they attribute it to the slimming qualities of red wine.  In truth, do they just eat small meals and watch their weight?  The question is, what is the real truth about wine?

The origins of wine date back as far as 4000 BC to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean region and has gained popularity ever since the ancient Romans and Greeks made an industry out of fermenting the juice of Vitis vinifera, the species of grape used in all wines, everywhere in the world – to this day.

Moderate consumption of red wine has been widely supported in scientific literature as relating to a lesser risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).  An abstract published in October 2019 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health Research Experimental studies have attributed this to the presence of a great variety of polyphenolic compounds to include resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and anthocyanin.  The antioxidant properties of resveratrol, which comes from the skin of red grapes, is the most effective wine compound associated with the prevention of CHD and yields significant health benefits (providing, of course, you drink in moderation and wisely.  After a glass or two of wine, don’t drink and drive,  get in an argument with your partner, or attempt to tweeze your eyebrows.)  Conversely, the American Heart Association points out other factors may be involved.  For example, people who drink red wine in moderation are also likely to follow a healthful Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.

Though red wine can positively impact people with cardiovascular disease, the AHA does warn that excessive drinking of wine or any alcoholic beverage, for that matter, can directly harm the heart and suggests following the official guidelines from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC): one, five-ounce glass of red wine with 12% alcohol volume per day for women and no more than two for men.  Drinking wine alone is not a solution for heart disease in of itself, of course.  Smoking, arterial hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, overweight obesity, lack of physical activity, and genetic factors all contribute to cardiovascular risk.  The solution is just how you deal with them.

Red wine also can “modestly decrease cardiometabolic risk” [AHA] in people with type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stress-related diseases, neurological disorders, metabolic syndrome, brain damage after stroke, and certain types of cancer. Even in moderation, first, check with your doctor to see if drinking wine and alcohol is safe for you.

According to MedicalNewsToday.com, red wine can also:

  • Improve the gut microbiota that contributes to good health
  • The resveratrol found in red wine may reduce blood pressure and increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.  Additionally, resveratrol may help protect against secondary brain damage after a stroke or central nervous system injury due to its positive effects on inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell death
  • Red wine compounds called procyanidins can help keep blood vessels healthy
  • Red wine can reduce blood pressure and stress.  Conversely, drinking too much alcohol of any variety can cause high blood pressure and arrhythmia
  • Red wine can help prevent vision loss and age-related eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is strong evidence that excessive drinking over time can cause certain cancers by creating toxins and, in turn, oxidation in the body that damages body tissues.  However, a 2012 study by the National Center for Biotechnology says the aromatase inhibitors (Als) in red wine and, to a lesser extent, white wine, may reduce estrogen levels and increase testosterone in females approaching menopause, which may lower the risk of breast cancer over other types of alcoholic beverages.  (Conversely, excessive, regular drinking of alcoholic beverages by premenopausal women increases estrogen levels and, therefore, may increase cancer risk.)

Likewise, in a 2017 review, the NCBI states the resveratrol found in red wine (likewise in purple grape juice and mulberries) has protective effects against lung cancer by preventing cell proliferation and tumor growth, inducing cell death in cancer cells, and inhibiting metastasis.  What’s more, a 2013 study by the NCBI revealed that of 5,505 people tested over a period of seven years had significantly lower levels of depression by drinking between two and seven glasses of wine a week.

A 2018 report issued by BMJ, a global healthcare provider, actually found an increased risk of dementia in people who abstained from drinking wine by depriving themselves of the neuroprotective effects of polyphenols and other compounds found in wine that can reduce inflammation and alter the lipid profile in the body.

So, what’s the bottom line?  Is red wine good for you?  That’s a decision only you can make—but one thing’s for sure.  You’ll find it in the greatest story ever told about wine, which is in John 2, King James Version of the Holy Bible.  Actually, it has little to do with wine—and everything to do with faith:

John 2, King James Version of the Holy Bible

 

2 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bear it.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

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