Durban - Relax, Wine Week is good for you! A Mercury science writer in the early days of Wine Week had encouraging words for wine lovers. Bill Faill wrote that in moderation – up to a bottle a day – wine is actually good for one, in health or in sickness.
Yet the evidence that this is so, coming from doctors and other research workers, is freely available. It just tends to have been overlooked, with wine being regarded as just another alcoholic drink instead of a very special, age-old beverage. Throughout human history, folklore and legend has been built around the health values of wine. It has been claimed that it can calm human tensions, provide nutrition, soothe the heart, combat anaemia and infection and aid digestion, to mention but a few things.
In the ancient world, wine was the ‘secret weapon’ which enabled armies to triumph in the field simply because, when mixed with doubtful water supplies, it acted as a protection against typhoid and dysentery. It was also used to bathe newborn infants and in dressing the wounds of gladiators.
But we like to think of ourselves as modern people and so folklore is perhaps of less interest to us than up-to-date research. Let’s clear up the misunderstanding at the outset. The benefits of wine do not come from the alcohol content alone. In the past, too many researchers have have mistakenly considered wine to be merely a watery solution of alcohol. It is now acknowledged that it is a complex dietary beverage.
More than 200 different compounds have been identified in wine, including trace elements and vitamins known to be essential for the proper functioning of the human body. These include the Vitamin B group and traces of potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, calcium, phosphorus and sulphur.
“Modern laboratory research has confirmed the beneficial uses of wine in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Wine lowers the cholesterol content of the blood, promotes blood flow and provides tranquilisation.
Wine is also effective in the post-surgical condition known as the malabsorption syndrome, in which the absorption of fats from the intestinal tract is dangerously reduced.
Of all the alcoholic beverages, only dry wines can be safely included in the diabetic diet. While wine serves as an effective appetite stimulant, it can also help the obese to lose weight.
Wine is also a useful diuretic. That wine can help with weight gain as well as weight loss may seem paradoxical. But facts are facts. In conditions such as anorexia, marked by loss of appetite and serious weight loss, a Californian doctor has reported that the regular use of standard red table wines can provide substantial improvement.
The use of a couple of glasses of such wine daily increased the caloric intake of most patients by about 12% in the period of treatment. But, to be fair, there is no indication of how much this improvement depends on the effect of wine as an appetite stimulant.
There we have it. The Mercury Wine Week is good for you.