Red wine, heart disease, hungry sharks, and knights in shining armor
What is special about wine? What makes you potentially more protective against coronary heart disease, and perhaps other diseases, than other forms of alcohol?
In recent years, scientists have unequivocally concluded that many human diseases such as heart disease, cancer and the aging process are caused or stimulated by a voracious group of chemicals called free radicals, which act like hungry sharks. These highly charged little villains prowl the body and attack healthy cell membranes through a process called oxidation. In this scenario, however, there is a knight in shining armor who jumps to the rescue and purges these ever-hungry little assassins. The name of our crusader is antioxidants.
Without getting too technical, the oxidation process in our body is crucial for health, without it, for example, we would not be able to extract energy from our food. But if there are too many free radicals in our body, this can be harmful.
Our body has its own defenses against free radicals, in the form of enzymes that are capable of turning hungry sharks into harmless water. However, sometimes our body’s natural defense mechanisms cannot cope. Other times, external events can cause a large increase in free radicals within our body, such as X-rays, cigarette smoke, and exposure to toxic substances. Sometimes this wave of free radicals can crush our defenses and diseases such as radiation sickness can result.
So what do oxidation and free radicals have to do with heart disease?
Low-density lipoproteins, commonly known as “bad” LDL, can penetrate and accumulate against the inner walls of our arteries, under certain conditions, forming fatty streaks and plaque. Taken alone, LDL particles are not as dangerous as they seem, however when attacked by free radicals they turn into dangerous and somewhat aggressive cells, capable of penetrating and damaging the smooth inner walls of our arteries. This process is called oxidation. Oxidized LDL is known to be the culprit in stimulating atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke.
Antioxidants, as the name suggests (antioxidants) can help stop the oxidation process, which is the result of free radicals doing their job. Most of the research on antioxidants has been done on vitamins (A, E, beta-carotene), but a lot of work has also been done on the health benefits of red wine. While most of the research on red wine has been done in relation to coronary heart disease, it seems that the benefits of wine don’t stop there.
Red wine and coronary heart disease
Red wine contains a wide range of flavonoids; These are the chemicals that give wine its particular flavor and character, making one different from another. Many of these flavonoids act as antioxidants. Perhaps the precursor to wine research was carried out by one Serge Renaud, who discovered the French paradox, which suggested that wine was the deciding factor in protecting people in southern France from their very high-fat diets. and, ultimately, coronary heart disease. Even if these people eat large amounts of high-fat cheese, pate, and salami, they have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
Another study, more statistical than practical, carried out by a Professor Gray from the University of Bern in Switzerland focused on the low, medium and high mortality figures from coronary heart disease (CHD) from the World Health Organization.
What did you find? Well, among the high mortality areas were Finland and Scotland, the middle areas included Ireland and the low CC areas included Spain, Italy and France. He then compared heart attack rates to antioxidant levels in blood samples taken from men living in those areas.
Vitamin E and heart disease
What he found was very interesting, the results showed that high levels of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, coincided with low death rates from heart disease. Furthermore, their results showed that vitamin E levels were 94% more accurate in predicting coronary heart disease rates than cholesterol levels or blood pressure figures. Aside from diet, regions with high CHD drink little or no wine, while lower regions traditionally accompany their meals most days with wine.
It certainly seems strange that two cities so studied; Glasgow in Scotland and Toulouse in France show many similarities and yet many differences. The inhabitants of both cities consume huge amounts of high-fat foods, traditionally exercise little and drink alcohol. The surprising difference is that, while the people of Glasgow have one of the highest rates of coronary heart disease in the world, the lucky people of Toulouse have one of the lowest. Traditionally, beer and spirits are the drinks of choice in Glasgow, while the people of Toulouse drink red wine.
It has also been suggested that drinking in moderation along with meals is beneficial, while binge drinking in bars at night is detrimental. It seems that southern Europeans don’t drink for the buzz of alcohol, but as a nice accompaniment to their meals.
At first, the great institutions of the heart, such as the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, ignored both antioxidants and disapproved of wine. While it is clear that it could be potentially dangerous for a doctor to advise his patients to start drinking alcohol, it is also strange that they have pretended for so many years to ignore the evidence. Well now even if they don’t promote taking vitamin pills; antioxidants and free radicals are now recognized. However, according to the AHA, “There is no scientific evidence that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace conventional measures. No head-to-head trials have been conducted to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing disease. o Just ask yourself who would pay for those studies. Clinical trials are meant to show that one thing is better than another, or if a certain substance is beneficial to your health. The costs of clinical trials are so high that only the industry Pharmaceutical have the financial clout to invest in them – investing is the right word.