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Four myths about wine and health.

Do you want to know the truth behind many statements that people believe but that are completely false?

We constantly hear or read opinions about wine and health that are widely spread but are completely wrong. In this article we explain, with scientific facts, the truth about these urban legends

FALSE: Alcohol kills brain cells

Just because you feel a little dizzy after a couple of too many drinks doesn't mean that thousands of brain cells are dying, as many people mistakenly believe.

Ethanol (the predominant type of alcohol in beverages such as wine, beer, and distilled beverages, among others) has the ability to damage cells, but the human body has ways to avoid it and stop its destruction.

Typically, what you experience after drinking are short-term symptoms, which will go away once the alcohol is eliminated from your system.

However, if you drink excessively and continuously over time, damage can appear in the dendrites, which are extensions of nerve cells that carry messages between neurons. While this effect of alcohol, which was discovered in 1999 by scientist Roberta Pentney, can alter the structure of a neuron, it does not completely destroy cells and is believed to be mostly reversible.

In this sense, it is worth warning that alcoholism or excessive consumption (that exceeds one or two drinks a day), as well as exposure to alcohol during critical periods of development (such as pregnancy or during adolescence) can cause harm. durable. Specifically, heavy drinkers are at risk of developing a neurological disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic memory disorder caused by a vitamin B1 deficiency.

However, there is no study that shows that moderate wine consumption causes brain damage, in fact Recent studies have pointed out the possible benefits of moderate wine consumption for brain health. As with most health and eating issues in life, it seems that moderation is the key.

FALSE: White wine is not healthy, red wine is

Red wine tends to get all the attention and praise when it comes to health benefits, mainly thanks to its polyphenol content. Polyphenols such as resveratrol, quercetin and ellagic acid are found in the skins of grapes and are therefore more abundant in red wine than in white. But although these compounds have beneficial properties, they are not the only elements in wine that have the potential to improve health.

Whether red wine or white wine is “healthier” for a person will depend on what aspects of health they focus on. A 2015 study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that while red wine drinkers enjoyed elevated levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind), white wine drinkers enjoyed better blood sugar controls and could therefore better prevent Diabetes than red.

Another study also from 2015, carried out by the University of Turin and the Versilia Hospital in Tuscany, concluded that white wine is also good for the heart, because caffeic acid, an organic compound present equally and in the same quantities in both reds and whites, is actually the true architect of the cardiovascular health of wine, as it is responsible for the production of nitric oxide, one of the best vasodilators that the body produces.

FALSE: A glass of wine before bed helps you sleep

Sure, drinking alcohol can make you sleepy, but it's not a good idea to drink to help you sleep. Thanks to the sedative effects of alcohol, a drink before going to bed will help you fall asleep faster, it's true, and there is even evidence that some wine grapes contain high amounts of melatonin, a substance that helps sleep.

The problem lies in the quality of sleep, something to which the latest studies are giving more and more importance than the quantity of sleep. It is very likely that by drinking wine, or any alcoholic beverage, just before going to sleep, your sleep will not be as restful as it should be. A study published in 2015 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research revealed that subjects who drank alcohol just before bed experienced an increase in deep sleep early in the night, but later experienced sleep disruption, a greater number of awakenings, and poorer overall sleep quality.

Just as we don't go to bed with a full stomach after dinner, if you have the habit of having a glass of wine at night, don't do it right before going to bed.

FALSE: Sulfites cause headaches and hangovers

Sulfites are probably one of the substances that generate the biggest myths in wine, and in reality they are practically harmless to the vast majority of people.

Sulfites are naturally occurring and although wine during fermentation releases a small amount of sulfites, most winemakers also add supplemental sulfites to wine to help protect against deterioration and oxidation, as well as to prevent the appearance of bacteria or microorganisms harmful to the body. Adding sulfites to wine is something like adding chlorine to water to make it drinkable. On the other hand, the added quantities are regulated and are tiny.

Sulfites, perhaps because their “chemical” name does not do them justice, are frequently blamed in urban legends for headaches and hangovers. But, according to science, this is completely false. The origin of headaches and hangovers (as well as other body pains) is alcohol, or more accurately. excess alcohol. When we ingest alcohol in excess, the body transforms it into acetaldehyde, an organic compound metabolized in the liver from ethanol, and it is this highly toxic compound that causes all the discomfort. Additionally, alcohol causes dehydration, which can aggravate symptoms.

As for allergy to sulfites, it rarely occurs. Most health organizations, such as the WHO or the FDA, estimate the population sensitive to sulfites at less than 1%. And in any case, an allergic reaction does not cause a hangover.

*Read the full article  here
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