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14 Surprising Health Benefits Of Wine

14 Surprising Health Benefits Of Wine

You pop open the cork after a killer day at the office, and the luscious wine flows in mellow drops into your shiny glass. Then this voice whispers in your ear. “Should I be drinking wine?” You try to make healthy food choices and go to the gym and yoga a few times a week. Are you negating your efforts with a few sips?  You know that over-indulging is a health no-no, but what about a glass of wine a few times per week?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard of the heart-healthy benefits of red wine. But this is not your big concern; you already exercise and eat pretty well.

Prepare to be amazed. More than just being heart-healthy, wine has a slew of surprising health benefits, many of which stem from resveratrol. Some plants make resveratrol to fight off bacteria and fungi, or to withstand a drought or lack of nutrients. Red and purple grapes, blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts, and pistachios are sources. Resveratrol may be the wonder ingredient responsible for many of wine’s benefits. Isolating the resveratrol does not yield the same powers, indicating that a constellation of forces act together to protect the body. Most studies focus on the benefits of red wine because white grapes do not contain resveratrol.

Prepare to be amazed and relieved. You’re about to learhow your wine-drinking ritual can be a powerful health elixir. Check out the following fourteen benefits of wine that go way beyond heart healthiness.

1. Live longer

That’s right. On the island of Ikarios, a recently discovered Blue Zone, people live longer than anywhere else in the world. Daily wine consumption is part of a dietary pattern that encourages long life through eating fewer animal-based foods and eating more plant-based foods. You’ll find the long-lived residents of Crete and Sardinia sipping dark red wine, a part of their anti-aging lifestyle. A 2007 study suggests procyanidins, compounds found in red wine tannins, help promote cardiovascular health. Wines produced in areas of southwest France and Sardinia, where people tend to live longer, have particularly high concentrations of the compound.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School uncovered evidence that resveratrol directly activates a protein that promotes health and longevity in animal models. Resveratrol increases the activity of sirtuins (longevity pathways), a group of genes that protects the body from diseases of aging.

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2. Get smarter

Resveratrol may help improve short-term memory. After just 30 minutes of testing, researchers found that participants taking resveratrol had a significant increase in retention of words and showed faster performance in the portion of the brain associated with the formation of new memories, learning, and emotions.

3.   Banish breakouts with wine

Resveratrol is able to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria longer than benzoyl peroxide. And it works even better when combined with benzoyl peroxide.  So far, drinking the antioxidant is the best way to benefit from its properties. Topical application in creams has not been proven as effective – so imbibe your antioxidants in wine, fruits, and veggies rather than buying expensive creams.

4.  Wine may beat trips to the gym

Would you rather drink wine or slave away at the gym?  Scientists at the University of Alberta in Canada found that resveratrol improves heart, brain, and bone function; the same way these parts are improved when you go to the gym. Now imagine the benefits of doing both!

5. Say goodbye to the blues

You know wine helps you relax…but depression?  Researchers in Spain found that men and women who drank two to seven glasses of wine per week were less likely to be diagnosed with depression. Even when taking into account lifestyle factors which could influence their findings, the reduced risk held strong.

6. Reduce (not increase) your risk of liver disease

This study challenged conventional thinking about alcohol and liver disease. Modest wine consumption, defined as one glass a day, may decrease the prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Modest wine drinkers, as compared to teetotalers, cut their risk of NAFLD in half. And compared with wine drinkers, modest beer or liquor drinkers had four times the odds of having suspected NAFLD.

7. Promote healthy eyes

Resveratrol stops out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eyes, according to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This may help with treatment of diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Note that these studies were done in mice, so the dose for humans is not yet clear. But this is a great start.

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8.  Protect your pearly whites

Did you know that drinking wine is a little-known way to protect your teeth from bacteria? We mentioned wine’s antimicrobial effects on the skin. Well, it also helps reduce bacteria on our teeth.Using five of the common oral plaque-causing bacteria, scientists noted almost complete degradation of the bacteria after applying the biofilms with red wine.

9.  Cut multiple cancer risks

Breast Cancer

Red grapes are the fruit best able to suppress the activity of aromatase, the enzyme used by breast tumors to produce their own estrogen – this is called an aromatase inhibitor. Red wine may serve as a nutritional aromatase inhibitor, which may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with alcohol intake. Note that you can also eat red grapes; those with seeds are especially helpful. Resveratrol is also thought to kill cancer cells by cutting off a pathway that feeds cancer cells.

Colon cancer

Studies show that moderate consumption of red wine can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50%.

Prostate Cancer

Harvard Men’s Health Watch reports that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week have a 52% less chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to those who don’t drink wine.  Red wine appears particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers. Doctors speculate that flavonoids and resveratrol contain potent antioxidants and may counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.

10.  Stave off those pesky sniffles

So maybe grandma’s cold remedy isn’t so strange after all. A study looked at 4,000 faculty members at five universities across Spain. Those who drank wine were less likely to come down with a cold compared to those that drank beer or spirits. Researchers think that the antioxidants help lower inflammation and reduce the symptoms of colds.

11.  Lower your cholesterol (without changing your diet)

Resveratrol is thought to reduce LDL and increase HDL, meaning that our blood vessels are less likely to be coated with plaque. Even the American Heart Association admits that moderate consumption of any type of alcohol can increase your HDL, or good cholesterol, by about 12%.

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12. Reduce the risk of stroke

Wine may reduce your risk of ischemic stroke. In analyses adjusted for age, sex, and smoking, intake of wine on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis was associated with a lower risk of stroke compared with no wine intake.  The benefits were not seen in beer or hard alcohol consumption.

13. Regulate blood sugar levels without drugs

Red wine is abundant in polyphenols. The polyphenols in wine interact with cells involved in the development and storage of fat and the regulation of blood sugar.  The amount of polyphenols in a small glass of red wine appears to rival the blood sugar regulating activity of certain diabetes drugs.

14. Slash your diabetes risk

Men and women who drink moderately have a 30% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This may be due again to resveratrol, which improves sensitivity to insulin. Insulin resistance is the most important critical factor contributing to Type 2 diabetes risk.

Don’t make this crucial mistake

The monumental mistake people make is trying to buy these benefits in a bottle, rather than looking at how wine can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. We want to bottle it, sell it, and find that magic bullet.

Supplements have not proven to have the benefits of simple foods. Nature is complex, and we haven’t figured out how to put that in a bottle (and I hope we don’t).

The most important thing you can do is start to look at the big picture.

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Think of the slow-paced life of the Mediterranean and bring a little bit of that into your life.

Take time to prepare a simple meal packed with legumes and fresh vegetables.

Savor this meal.

Linger at the table with your friends and family.

And of course – enjoy a leisurely glass of wine without feeling guilty.

Featured photo credit: www.picjumbo.com via media.lifehack.org

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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