Proceed with caution
What happens to your body if you drink a small amount every day? This is one of those “maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t” conundrums public health experts wrestle with. Basically, if you don’t drink you probably shouldn’t start for any possible health benefits. But if you have a glass of wine a day or less (but not more – especially if you’re a woman), there may be some benefits (and risks) to your moderate imbibing. Check out the possibilities below.
You might have better gut health
A 2019 study in the journal Gastroenterology found that people who drank red wine had a greater diversity of good bacteria in their guts compared with people who did not drink red wine. The researchers did not see the same effect with white wine or other types of alcohol, according to the study of more than 900 female twins. Having more diverse bacteria (and a greater proportion of some types rather than others) is thought to help with food digestion, immune function, and weight management. An unhealthy balance of gut bacteria has been linked to weight gain and susceptibility to several diseases. In the study, the red wine drinkers were also less likely to be obese and had lower levels of LDL cholesterol than those who didn’t drink it. And it didn’t need to be a daily drink. The researchers found that drinking red wine even once every two weeks was enough to see the effect.
You might have better heart health
A 2017 review in Circulation suggests that the ethanol and polyphenols in wine can together help protect against chronic cardiovascular diseases, mostly heart disease. And the antioxidant resveratrol might help with the heart-boosting benefits of a nightly glass of wine – especially red varietals. The tannins contained in red wine, procyanidins, are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a report published in the Canadian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “The antioxidants in wine increase heart-healthy HDL cholesterol as well as keeping the immune system strong,” says Dr Kristine Arthur. “HDL helps to prevent ‘bad’ plaque build-up in the arteries, which can also help prevent heart attacks and strokes.”
But moderation is key. “Chronic and excessive alcohol intake is associated with weakening of the heart, medically termed as cardiomyopathy and heart failure, says Dr Adrienne Youdim.