Longevity Link: How Wine Helps You Live Longer
Living to 100 doesn’t have to mean a strict regimen of steamed vegetables and joyless meals. A healthy, balanced and stress-free life includes happy hours, time spent with family and friends and the occasional glass of wine with delicious dinners. You can consume alcohol and live to a happy 100, even up to one drink daily for women, two for men. We know from Blue Zones centenarians that this is true: People in four original Blue Zones areas drink alcohol moderately and regularly. The trick is to drink one to two glasses per day with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
Here is some of the research and studies that give us a better understanding of how wine can help lead to a longer lifespan.
Cardiovascular Can-Do with Cannonau
Sardinians are famous for their daily consumption of the robust, regional red wine called Cannonau. Cannonau wine has two to three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines. Small doses of this antioxidant-rich beverage throughout the day could explain fewer heart attacks and lower levels of stress among men in this region of the world. Another reason Sardinians may experience these wine health benefits is the way they consume it–always surrounded by good friends and good food. If you’re unable to find Cannonau at your local market, dry red wines in general offer similar health advantages.
[Editor’s Note: Cannonau is the Sardinian name for the red wine grape known elsewhere as Grenache or Garnacha.]
Wine in moderation has been shown to be beneficial if consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet, which is defined by a high consumption of beans, greens, nuts, olive oil and whole grains and a low consumption of meat and processed foods. This means that wine, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be beneficial to your health. It does not mean that wine will somehow “cancel out” the negative effects of a poor diet (high in processed foods and saturated fat).
Consuming wine alongside a meal can help the body absorb more of the flavonoids, the artery-scrubbing antioxidants, from the food eaten with it. Among many others, this recent study published in Advances in Nutrition showed that consumption of wine as part of a Mediterranean-style diet could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, perhaps helped by the anti-oestrogens found in extra-virgin olive oil.
Movement + Wine
Sardinian shepherds often walk up to five miles a day tending to their flocks and carry with them a lunch of unleavened bread, fava beans, a small bit of Pecorino cheese and a generous supply of local Cannonau wine. Daily activity is built into the ecosystem of life in the Blue Zones areas–every trip to the store or to a neighbor’s house occasions a walk. Centenarians move naturally all day long and according to a study completed by the European Society of Cardiology, moderate wine drinking and regular exercise is a combination that can be protective against cardiovascular disease.
A Drink to Remember
Resveratrol, the polyphenol found in the skin of grapes, is known to protect the body against damage that puts it at higher risk for cancer, heart disease and dementia. According to a study by Philippe Marambaud, PhD, a senior research scientist at New York’s Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders, this compound can combat the formation of the plaque that is found in the brains of dementia patients.
In another study published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, those who consumed alcohol at least once a week (hello, Wine @ 5), had significantly better cognitive function in old age than those who did not drink at all.
Live Longer, Better
Besides these more focused studies above, other research backs up the link between wine intake and a reduction in all-cause mortality. Moderate alcohol consumption (especially with meals and friends) could help you not only de-stress and loosen up, but also live longer.
By Aislinn Leonard
Aislinn Leonard is the business coordinator at Blue Zones. She studied Communication & Journalism and French at the University of St. Thomas and is a hockey player, national champion hurler and lover of all things health and fitness.
August 3, 2017