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Make the Right Choice

On May 4th, 2015, a young mother and her 14-month-old daughter died and their loved ones, family and friends, as well as the local community and many beyond are now suffering from this senseless tragedy. A tragedy, that in hindsight should never have occurred, and could have been prevented, if, somewhere in this chain of events, a right choice had been made. 

Please don’t drink and drive. This plea has been repeated countless times. And yet, many times the right choice is not made and awful tragedies ensue, leaving lives scarred forever more.  DWI

Balancing personal responsibility while providing fail-safe measures to assist people whose better judgment has been impaired by intoxication and who nonetheless proceed to make decisions that most likely will imperil themselves and others, obliges all of us to explore new ways to prevent such tragic results. An ounce of Prevention

In writing this difficult article, I can hear the voice of my grandmother saying: “ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This might be an old adage, but it nonetheless wisely invites all of us to consider “fail-safes” and search for novel ways to prevent the “Crash.” 

One solution is to plan ahead: Before attendees purchase their wine-event tickets, or at the event itself, attendees might be provided lists of transportation services that specialize in providing safe and sober transportation services. 

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Red Wine just might help keep you slim

aaa-blank-imageThousands of years ago, around 1015 BC, Psalms 104:14-15 proclaimed: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen a man’s heart.”wine-health-red-white

As with most ancient scriptures, their wisdom is divined by the reader’s mind and their secrets are revealed through the reader’s interpretation. And so for the purpose of this discussion I am assuming that “the gladdening of the heart” might simply refer to the heart’s physical vitality and not any other metaphorical symbolisms. 

In 2012, an assistant professor and his gradate student at Purdue University published a report about a compound found in red wine called “Picetannol.” kim-piceatannol1According to their research, this compound interrupted or blocked the cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop. This discovery might very well open the door to controlling obesity, thereby tamping down the ailments associated with it. Yes, it would seem that red wine really is “good for the human heart.” 

It comes as a great surprise, at least to me, that the complexity of chemical compounds found in red wine surpasses that of our own blood serum. It has become increasingly clear that there are health benefits derived from a moderate ingestion of red wine and that these might range from maintaining a healthy heart to possibly mitigating Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research points in that direction. So, much like the secrets divulged by ancient texts, there remain secrets yet to be discovered through scientific research into the nature and qualities possessed by the elixir we call red wine. Heart-Healthy-Red-Wine-Is-It-True

Red wine is a rich source of antioxidants, called flavonoids. Ten years of research has already shown that flavonoids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The cardio-protective affects are three fold: Red wine reduces the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad stuff) and boosts the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) thereby reducing blood clotting. Finally, consuming a moderate amount of red wine on a daily basis has been shown to favorably influence lipid profiles following a meal. 

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It Takes Two

It Takes Two

 

All of us have heard about the health benefits of wine. The antioxidants present in wine, particularly in red wine, have been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a glass or two per night is a common suggestion for those looking to lower their bad cholesterol. If you want a refresher, check out my article here!

It turns out, though, that just drinking a glass or two of Pinot Noir each night is not enough. In a new study by the European Society of Cardiology, people who drank wine 5 nights a week had their cholesterol levels tracked over the course of a year. The trial, entitled “In Vino, Veritas,” looked at both men and women, who were divided into two groups; half the participants drank a pinot noir and the other half drank a chardonnay-pinot noir (white) blend. Both wines came from the same vintage and the same region of the Czech Republic. Participants kept a log of their wine and alcohol consumption, medication use, and exercise habits.

This study is extraordinary for a couple reasons. First of all, Professor Milos Taborsky, the lead researcher on the project, was looking for a rise in HDL cholesterol, which is “the main indication of a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.” However, at the end of the year the HDL cholesterol level s were not markedly different from the participants’ beginning stats. This points to the conclusion that neither red nor white wine contributes to the prevention of heart disease. LDL cholesterol was lower in both the red and white groups at one year, while the total cholesterol level was lower for the red wine drinkers only. So while Professor Taborsky concluded that neither red nor white wine “had any impact on study participants as a whole,” consuming either type of wine does appear to have a beneficial effect on the drinker’s cholesterol levels.

This is the first randomized study that attempts to look at the comparative benefits of red wine vs. white wine on cardiovascular health. By controlling the vintage, varietal, and appellation of the wines drunk by the participants, we are able to compare the risks and benefits of the wines in real-life circumstances, rather than posit theories based on our understanding of what should happen. The traditional view of red wine as a healthier option than white wine must be reevaluated in light of these findings.

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Explain Like I'm Five: Antioxidants!

Explain Like I'm Five: Antioxidants!

When I hear about the "health benefits of wine," there are a lot of words that get thrown around that just make me start nodding, glassy-eyed, pretending to know what they mean. Sure, "antioxidant" means something goes... against... oxidants? And that's good?

I felt like I should investigate all these science-y terms so I can actually understand that sort of conversation--and maybe even add to it in a way that doesn't just parrot general health claims. Let's start with a couple widely-discussed elements of wine: antioxidants and polyphenols. We're going to go down a rabbit-hole for a second, so please bear with me.

Antioxidants, per Helmut Seis's 1997 article "Oxidative Stress: Oxidants and Antioxidants" in Experimental Physiology, are "molecules that inhibit the oxdation of other molecules."

Oxdation, in turn, is a chemical reaction that transfers single electrons or hydrogen atoms from one compound (the reducing agent) to another (the oxidizing agent, or oxidant). They are called "oxidants" because their atomic makeup always contains oxygen, which in its natural state has two "open slots" for electrons. This theft of electrons can create free radicals.

Free radicals are molecular compounds that have unbalanced electron pairs (remember in chemistry how two atoms like to share at least two electrons?) and are therefore highly reactive to surrounding compounds. They can cause chain reactions when they start interacting with neighboring molecules, which is damaging or even fatal to cells if not kept in check.

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