Have you heard red wine has a range of health benefits? We reckon there are far better sources of the vital vitamins and minerals you need. Here are some brilliant alternative ways to boost your health without wine.
You’ve probably heard the headlines and reports from studies about how a glass of red wine could have some health benefits – but the reality is, if you’re after these health benefits, there are some much more effective ways to experience these without the negatives that come along with drinking alcohol. We are here to present to you some better ways to reap these health benefits – without the hangover of alcoholic wines!
What does the media tell us?
There have been a number of reports over the past few years that suggest different kinds of alcohol may have some various health benefits – but if you take a close look, they are all careful to mention that these are only ‘possible’ or ‘potential’ benefits of drinking. Equally, you’ll likely see a disclaimer that these benefits are only when you drink in moderation but the truth is there is very little scientific evidence to prove drinking any kind of alcohol, including red wine (the most highly acclaimed of its health benefits) is likely to have any positive influence on your health, without bringing along a few negating factors with it.
Some of the myths we are told in the media include:
- That red wine could decrease our chances of heart disease.
- That the tannins in wine can reduce inflammation.
- That the flavanols in wine may protect your body's cells that support healthy blood vessels.
- Drinking reduces stress.
- Improve gut health.
- Drinking wine can extend your lifespan.
However it doesn’t take long for the holes to begin to emerge when you research these claims. For example, one of the reasons red wine may be seen as a healthier option is due to its association with a Mediterranean diet. It is far more likely that this diet is what causes the improvements in heart health, versus the red wine itself. In fact, if you are researching how to improve heart health, one of the most common pieces of advice you will come across will be to reduce your alcohol intake.
And while red wine does contain antioxidants called polyphenols which are known to reduce inflammation and help to protect the blood vessels in your heart, you are able to get these in far higher quantities from other foods that don’t come with a hangover and dehydration. In order to get enough polyphenols from red wine, you may risk consuming an amount that does more harm than good.
As for the claims that red wine can improve your lifespan, there is far more research into the negative health implications of drinking than there is supporting the argument that it can improve your chances of a longer life.
Effective ways to improve your health without alcohol
Now that we have debunked the supposed health benefits of wine, and alcohol in general, let’s take a look at the other ways in which we can experience the proposed health benefits.
Improving heart health
There are no two ways about it, if you want to improve your heart health, the best thing you can do is to stay active. Taking regular exercise, even light walks each day, will have a far bigger impact on improving the long term health of your heart over a glass of wine. Just like lifting weights strengthens your muscles, getting the blood pumping around your body on a walk or a run will help to strengthen your heart.
If you want to get more polyphenols in your diet, you can go straight to the source and eat grapes (around 150 grams worth) – all the benefits of the nutrients within the grape skins without the negative impacts of alcohol. It’s a win win! You can also focus on eating more nuts or berries such as peanuts or blueberries which contain high levels of Resveratrol, known for promoting heart health.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection, but it doesn’t only happen when your body is trying to heal. Unfortunately, this is another reaction that can be caused by eating an unbalanced diet, a lack of exercise or poor sleep quality. By incorporating more fruits, vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, tofu, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans and reducing the amount of inflammatory foods such as red meat, highly processed products or deep fried foods, you should see reduced inflammation.
While drinking alcohol in the short term might help to relieve some of the symptoms of stress, it has no positive impact on the long term reduction of stress levels and in fact, can have the opposite effect. Alcohol is known to cause feelings of anxiety over time, and is not an effective stress management tool. Instead, avoiding substances such as alcohol, caffeine or nicotine can help improve stress levels, alongside other stress reducing activities such as exercise, sleep, meditation, counselling or breathing exercises. These techniques help to reduce the stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in the body.
Improve gut health
Our microbiome is a complex and delicate ecosystem that can be easily disrupted with an imbalance of nutrients or toxins. Over consumption of alcohol can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, reducing the population of helpful bacteria. This can lead to problems such as inflammation, leaky gut syndrome and gastrointestinal symptoms.
In order to promote a healthy gut, reducing the amount of alcohol, sugar and artificial sweeteners in your diet can help to re-balance the healthy bacteria. Instead, replace these with beans, fermented foods such as kimchi, probiotics such as yoghurts or increase your intake of whole-grains.
Healthy and happy
We are not reinventing the wheel here – this advice is common. A healthy lifestyle = a healthy body and mind. As much as we would love to believe that the things we love to indulge in are good for us, in many cases, limiting these and consuming in moderation is the best for our overall health. At the end of the day, you should do what makes you feel good, happy and healthy, so consider what really makes you feel strong and energised each day and live life better!