Wine: As Wonderful for your Kidneys as for Your Heart?

320px-Red_Wine_GlasContributed by Jenni Phelps: The fact that wine promotes cardiovascular health has long been espoused by scientists, but exciting news suggests that wine may also be linked to healthier kidneys.  A study carried out by Dr. Tapan Mehta and his team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Centre, in Aurora, has shown that those with healthy kidneys who consumed a moderate amount of wine per day (in the region of 4 ounces) had a 37 per cent lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Additionally, those who already had kidney disease who drank the same amount per day had a 29 per cent lower likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular events. The scientists came to these conclusions after analysing data obtained over three years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a yearly study carried out by the National Center for Health Statistics. The data was obtained from over 5,800 Americans, over 1,000 of which had chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The Crucial Link Between the Heart and Kidneys

Approximately 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, defined by the National Kidney Foundation as “a gradual loss of kidney function over time”.

The risk factors for kidney disease are, interestingly, strikingly similar to those for heart disease. They include: smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. As Dr. Mehta told Wine Spectator, “Apparently, nobody has looked at this before. But in the general population, the common risk factors (for kidney and heart disease) were so similar that we were led to hypothesize that wine intake would also lower cardiovascular disease risk in patients who have kidney disease.” Suffering from chronic kidney disease greatly increases one’s chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the latter is the leading cause of death for all people suffering from CKD. The aim of Dr. Mehta’s study, therefore, was to glean whether or note moderate drinking could lower the chance of cardiovascular diseases in CKD patients, and whether it could promote kidney health in the population at general. His findings are promising indeed for all drinkers of wine, though the key is moderation; not only can excess amounts o wine reverse its beneficial effects, it can also cause issues such as addiction, which carries a whole new set of health risks for consumers. Moreover, rehabilitation can be a lengthy and challenging process. As notes, “detoxification may be a medical necessity, and untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal.”

The Mystery of Wine

The reasons why a moderate consumption of wine are linked to greater kidney health is as yet unknown. Dr. Mehta suspects that it may have something to do with the fact that moderate consumers of wine tend to have lower protein levels in their urine. On the other hand, as kidney disease progresses, levels of protein in the urine tend to increase. Another secret may lie in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of resveratrol.

Red or White? Does it Matter?

Further studies need to be carried out in order to establish maximum amounts of wine to be consumed to obtain maximum benefits. Additionally, the question of whether white wine has the same beneficial effect on the kidneys as red wine, remains to be seen, since the subjects of the study were not asked to identify which type of wine they drank. Dr. Mehta logically believes that red wine would likely hold more beneficial effects than white, bearing in mind its high resveratrol content. Various studies have linked the consumption of resveratrol to cancer protection, cardiovascular health, longer lifespans and even the ability to keep vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay. As Harvard University notes, “Exactly how resveratrol might do all this is still a mystery. One possibility is that it turns on genes that make sirtuins, ancient proteins found in virtually all species. Activating sirtuins kicks off a response that fights disease and prolongs life.” In addition to red wine, resveratrol can also be found in red grapes, blueberries and pistachios, so make sure to stock up on these healthy snacks while enjoying your daily glass of wine!

Future Testing

Excited by their results, Dr. Mehta and team are planning to immerse themselves in experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) soon, to glean more information on the connection between wine consumption and kidney health, and the causes of the promising results thus obtained.

About the Author: Jenni Phelps is a former nutrition and health worker who believes in balance and moderation in all things, after working for many years in social care helping families make the right dietary and health choices, she turned her attention to freelance writing and now divides her time between penning articles and looking after the health of her own family!

Positive News on the Health Benefits of Wine

Sparkling Wine & Salad

Sparkling Wine & Salad

Contributed by Jenna Phelps – Although Millennials rarely drink wine for its health benefits, it’s reassuring to know that drinking wine in moderation promotes physical and mental wellness. Indeed, an article recently published in the scientific journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings highlights that a daily drink of alcohol for men and women, ideally red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is good news, as cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the US. However, the researchers point out that this moderate dosage is the key to good health, as excessive intakes of alcohol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and other dangers to health. So how does a modest amount of wine protect your heart and what other benefits can you gain by drinking within suggested limits?

Protecting your heart

According to Florida International University, drinking is beneficial to heart health in three ways. Firstly, red wine is rich in a protective substance called resveratrol, which increases levels of HDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that protects your arteries by removing fatty deposits. Not only that, but resveratrol increases the size of HDL particles, which confers even greater benefits to heart health. Finally, resveratrol and other components in red wine act as antioxidants, which preserve the health of your arteries, preventing narrowing. The alcohol content of red wine may actually increase antioxidant activity, so although companies such as the Health Food Post advises on the benefits of resveratrol supplements, taking this nutrient as a tablet may limit the benefits it offers. Although white wine has a lower antioxidant content, all alcohol raises HDL levels, so if you prefer a glass of white wine, it may still protect your heart.

Additional research suggests that resveratrol may promote a healthy circulation in other ways too. For instance, the Linus Pauling Institute explains that resveratrol reduces inflammation, which otherwise may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes and dementia. This protective nutrient additionally reduces the chance of a blood clot forming, promoting healthy blood flow through your arteries, reducing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. Resveratrol also boosts nitric oxide production, needed to relax your blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. As KwikMed advises that raised blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, additional measures that lower blood pressure are welcome. However, high intakes of alcohol raise blood pressure, so it’s important to keep to just a glass or two of wine at a serving.

Reducing your risk of diabetes

An increasing number of us in America have type 2 diabetes, which is a major cause of ill-health and early death. However, the condition is preventable through a healthy lifestyle, and moderate red wine consumption may additionally play a role in preventing this form of diabetes. Research from The Journal of Nutrition informs us that a high dietary intake of flavones and anthocyanins, two antioxidants found in red wine, reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar control, which may protect us from diabetes. Looking at anti-inflammatory diets that are rich in nutrient-dense foods, such as that recommended by Dr Weil, you see that they include red wine, so wine fits in well with a health-promoting diet.

Improving your mood

As one in ten of us now suffer from depression to one degree or another, there is a lot of interest in natural ways to boost our mood. A diet rich in oily fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, coupled with regular exercise can have a positive impact on wellbeing, and a glass of wine is possibly another useful addition. The University of Utah reports on a study that showed a daily drink of wine is linked to a reduced risk of depression. While this may be down to the impact that protective components of wine have on brain function, drinking socially may also explain the results, as social interaction is well-known to lift your spirits. As with other areas of health though, it’s essential to keep within sensible limits, as drinking heavily can worsen mood and have a negative effect on other aspects of mental health. Drinking moderately offers a range of health benefits, so you can remember this as you enjoy a glass of red.