Is There Anything Red Wine Can't Do?

Alcohol enthusiasts love touting health benefits: now it fights being sedentary

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Alcohol enthusiasts love invoking the health benefits of red wine to quell their guilt as they order a second bottle of Malbec with dinner. And now they have another factoid to cite while they argue the drink's healthfulness. Researchers have found that a much-heralded ingredient in the libation, resveratrol, reduces the negative effects astronauts face when in the weightlessness of space. But it's not just good news for space travelers: "The study also suggested that resveratrol may be able to prevent the deleterious consequences of sedentary behaviours in humans," reports the Daily Mail.

In other words: lazy folk, drink up. While scientists remind wine drinkers that imbibing red wine does not mean you can skip the gym, this does seem to say a glass of wine a day isn't a bad idea for the less active. "Resveratrol may not be a substitute for exercise, but it could slow deterioration until someone can get moving again.'"

But, really, how can something so delicious and intoxicating have any positive effects on your body? Theories of wine's benefits have circulated for years. A 1991 60 Minutes segment introduced modern Americans to the "French Paradox," which insinuated that wine decreases incidences of cardiac disease. Twenty years later, the Yale-New Haven hospital talks up the benefits of the drink, pointing to its effects on heart-health. Researchers included moderate alcohol consumption as one of the "eight proven ways to reduce coronary heart disease risk. However, research has suggested that specifically red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health."

And the magical powers of wine extend beyond your cardiovascular system. WebMD physician, Arthur Agatston, also touted alcohol's benefits on cholesterol,  telling CBS, "The research evidence points to ethanol, or the alcohol component, of beer, wine, or spirits as the substrate that can help lower cholesterol levels, increase 'good' HDL cholesterol." Studies have also shown that that same ingredient that helps the lazy might also benefit the aging. "Scientists across the country have identified a substance in red wine called resveratrol that they believe might do more than just protect the heart, but could in very high concentrations significantly extend life by preventing a number of age related illnesses," reports CBS.

Yet, drinkers should take these findings with a grain of salt. For every study that claims a glass a day keeps the doctor away, another reminds us that drunken happiness comes with a price tag. Skeptical of the murky findings, The Mayo Clinic reminds drinkers of the dangers of over-consumption, "While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That's because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body." And even the positive claims, come with caveats. In her ABC News special Live to 150 ... Can You Do It?, Barbara Walters asked a researcher how much wine she'd have to drink to attain the anti-aging benefits and he answers "1,000 bottles," as you can see in the video below.

So the lesson here is, wine has a beneficial nutrient, but don't go drinking 1,000 bottles of the elixir because you will go into liver failure, and no matter how taut your skin looks, you won't feel very young as the paramedic pumps your stomach.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.