When I was 16, I had my first real "drink". It was summertime, my grandparents had gone away for the weekend and had left my 20 year-old cousin in charge of the place. Needless to say, we found a way to procure alcohol. I thought it would feel so cool to drink, to get drunk, all the stuff older guys do... right? Wrong. I started off the night before people really had even gotten there when my cousin (another cousin) and I shotgunned a couple of warm Miller Lites. I nearly vomited. From that point on in the night, it was rum, more bad beer from beer pong, and vodka mixed with Dr. Pepper. By the time everyone else was just starting to loosen up, I was trashed. I desperately tried to eat slices of plain bread to "soak up the alcohol" to no avail. I ended up regurgitating said bread along with the previously consumed alcohol onto the couch. I was a mess.
So yeah, my first experience with alcohol was not so great. This tale I have chosen to include to let everyone who might read this article know that I am not without my mistakes in this realm. After that night, I practically swore off alcohol for good, especially when I really got interested in nutrition and health. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram in comparison of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates clocking in at 9, 4, and 4 calories per gram, respectively. This usually puts an average 5 ounce glass of wine at roughly 100-150 calories (depending on alcohol and sugar content) and a pint of beer anywhere from 125-300 calories. It didn't make sense in my mind to be drinking my calories, so I didn't have any qualms leaving these beverages out of my life.
However, life changed, and wine soon became very alluring. As I've written previously, the mystique behind it, the chemistry involved in the process and in the finished product, the whole air surrounding wine made me want to pursue the industry. I am a Christian, but as a reformed guy, we see alcohol as a gift from God, not something to be reviled. My only holdup was health. If I was going to be drinking this stuff, there had to be sufficient reason for me to do so, and so here we go, the health benefits of wine and other forms of alcohol:
- Moderate drinkers (being 1-2 glasses/day) with high blood pressure proved to be 30% less likely to fall claim to aheart attack in comparison to those who do not drink.
- Consumers of 1-8 glasses of wine per week have been shown to have nearly half the incidence of colon cancer when compared to nondrinkers.
- Reduced mortality and risk of heart disease are both attributed to extraction of certain polyphenols found in the skins of red grapes.
- Those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol in general were roughly 30%less at risk to develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetime.
- All levels of alcohol consumption show a decreased rate of neurodegeneration.
Wine and other strong drink usually oscillate from being the panacea of a time period to being the most damnable and health-damaging drink around. Usually with two extremes like that, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Wine is awesome. It provides antioxidants, polyphenols that may contribute to heart, blood, and other forms of health, and it makes you feel good. Heck, even if you're not much of a wine person, the same research cited above often applies to moderate consumption of beer and other forms of alcohol. In fact, beer additionally provides a bioavailable form of silicon which has been confirmed to play a big role in bone health
Right around this time of year, I love to sit down in front of the tv, the computer, or a book with a nice, dark stout in my glass. Or when I'm out to dinner, a glass of zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon. I also like to alternate sips with a long draw from a tobacco pipe, but de-stigmatizing that would take another article! So please, next time you're at the bar or contemplating buying some drink "to make one merry," remember that it's certainly not all bad for you. Heck, even the great reformer Martin Luther many times said, "He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long."