Over the years there have been many studies looking into the health benefits of wine, with some Governments running studies lasting for decades. These kinds of studies are looking into the outcomes of large populations, to see if those who have the occasional drink live longer than those who choose to abstain.
Scientists have now isolated certain chemicals in red wine and are looking into whether or not they have the benefits that they are claimed to have.
In La Rioja, Spain, locals are taking a different approach to this idea. At the Marqués de Riscal “Vinothérapie” spa hotel there is a massage called ‘pulp friction’ that involves having the raw ingredients of wine gently kneaded into your flesh.
Whether or not this therapy has any effect whatsoever is yet to be seen, but what about drinking the stuff? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Ex-barman Alex Kammerling believes it all depends on the dosage. Best known for creating the Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit, Kammerling also gives regular talks about alcohol and its history in medication.
“There’s a whole load of research from the last 10 to 20 years that shows if you drink alcohol it helps reduce heart attacks. Heart disease is the number one killer in the UK so anything that helps reduce that is fantastic”
In contrast to this view, Professor Paul Wallace (chief medical advisor for Drinkaware) is unconvinced. Professor Wallace agrees that there is some evidence to suggest that those who drink occasionally are less at risk of coronary problems than abstainers, but argues that there are other illnesses to take into consideration.
The risk of developing diseases such as cancer and stroke rises when we drink and professor Wallace believes that the way society is handling alcohol is far more harmful than it is beneficial.
The message is somewhat confusing, but for most of us – our bodies tell us how alcohol affects us. At its best, wine can make us happy and sociable with healthier hearts – at its worst it makes us angry, depressed and ill. Perhaps Vinothérapie does have the answer after all.
To find out more about coronary disease and how changing your diet could help your heart, please see our fact sheet about Heart Disease.
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