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Body, Mind & Spirit

Is Wine really good for your health?

Whine the wine benefits?
By Silvia Casabianca
By the time, some five years ago, Nature magazine published studies about the health benefits of drinking two glasses of wine a day, researchers thought they had solved the mystery of the “French paradox.” Why was it that the famous gourmet French cuisine didn’t clog the arteries of French people, despite the fact that its foods were so rich in saturated fats? 
The answer seemed to be in the moderate consumption of wine that accompanied the meals. The two-daily-glasses-of-wine benefit came as a very nice fact that apparently clarified the mystery without having to discern other variables that promote health, including the French’s increased eating of fruits and vegetables, and their enjoy-lunch versus fast-food attitude towards life. 
One thing that concerned me after the report was released was to witness alcoholics, the kind who can’t exist without their two drinks a day, the kind who never acknowledge their alcohol dependence because they seldom get drunk, supporting the rightfulness of their drinking on these reports’ claim that some daily alcohol would be beneficial. 
Referring to studies such as the one published in Nature, the American Heart Association stated that, “No direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.” Which, in other words alludes to the fact that some research goes to print without previous ratification.
Interestingly enough, the mentioned research results provided a convenient outlet to the overwhelmed wine industry that was not selling that well either at home or abroad. Let’s remember that France has been one of the most important sources of good wines since the 1300s and the ups and down of this industry affect its economic heart, as wine and spirits are the country's second-largest export industry.
When you take a close look, it is easy to find that in many cases, companies or institutions interested in getting scientific facts to back up the convenience of consuming what they sell subsidize the research done on the health benefits of food and beverages. In science, a well-formulated hypothesis is rather simple to prove.
The accountability of research outcomes may conceivably depend on not only the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data but also on the hiring of the staff and the choice of protocol, among other factors, all of them influencing the results. If wanting to prove that a new food product is a panacea, all that is needed is to brain a hypothesis, formulate certain research protocol, hire certain type of investigators and anyone might achieve just what they thought could be true. I agree with the ones who consider that research should not be funded by interested parties.
Research universities always go into a lot of trouble to solve the ethical problems drawn from conflict of interest. Even though they depend on external support to pursue their endeavors, they know that the existence (or even the appearance) of such conflicts can lead to actual bias or suspicion about their research results. 
Conflict of interest also haunts health care professionals, especially those who provide nutritional advise. It’s a common practice among food and pharmaceutical industries to provide free samples, furnish meals during professional meetings, pay for travel to medical congresses, pay investigators for enrolling patients in clinical trials, etc. 
In a world where everything has become merchandise, professionals and institutions have fallen under increasing public scrutiny. 
Information about health matters seems never enough, even though it’s bountiful, and what makes it feel insufficient is not only that medical sciences advance so quickly, but also that research results are contradictory because they depend quite a bit on the eye of the observer.
This is what the American Heart Association recommends:
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.) Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents. Also, it's not possible to predict in which people alcoholism will become a problem. Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking ... if they do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this website is mostly based on personal opinions and experiences of Silvia Casabianca, unless otherwise noted. Advise offered is meant to help users take informed decisions and not to replace medical care by a qualified practitioner.

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