Read this if you’re having a few drinks this weekend…
Well if you can stop at just a few…then I have some good news for you. It turns out drinking a little wine or gin might not be a bad thing for your health, with evidence suggesting it may decrease the inflammation that can lead to heart disease.
In a study with a group of men who had heart disease risk factors (e.g. type 2 diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and family history), researchers found that having approximately 3 units (adjusted to their body weight) so for an 80kg man approx. 300ml wine or 80g gin reduced the expression of some pro-inflammatory genes, linked with heart problems (e.g. where the blood vessels supplying the heart are narrowed or blocked) 4 hours after drinking.
Wine (Andalusian aged wine to be exact) had a greater effect than gin thought to be thanks to the beneficial plant chemicals in wine called polyphenols (more on those in my last post). What’s more, wine (more so than the gin) slightly reduced blood pressure and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels too.
Full disclosure: that’s not to say the more the merrier! Participants had around 3 units of wine or gin, which is in line with the government guidelines (max 14units per week). This was also a pretty small study with only 39 men aged 55-80 yrs (no females!) and they didn’t take into account the effects of long-term alcohol consumption, nor other markers such as cancer risk.
Bottom line: Drinking alcohol in moderation CAN be part of a healthy lifestyle. But it really is about the amount (and likely the type too)… overdoing will absolutely have the opposite effect on your heart health and your mind. For some, abstinence is bliss and remember loading up on plenty of polyphenol-filled plants and fatty fish is the best-studied recipe for a healthy heart.
For those who have a sensitive gut, alcohol can certainly make things worse by affecting how your gut muscles move – topic for another post!
Want to check if you’re drinking too much? Head over to drinkaware.co.uk/tools/self-assessment