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Is Having a Glass of Wine a Day Good, Bad or Neither?

Nov. 22, 2021 - Katie McCallum

It seems like there's always something in the news about the discovery of yet another seeming health benefit of wine.

The claims range from how a glass a day — red wine especially — can reduce a person's risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes to how its antioxidants can help slow aging and limit stress in the brain.

If you're someone who enjoys wine, this is welcome news. It might also sound too good to be true.

When it comes to whether a glass of wine a day is good or bad, there are the supposed health benefits and there's what the science really shows.

Is wine good for you?

"The truth about having a glass of wine a day is that there's no proven 'good' reason to drink it," says Dr. Joshua Septimus, associate professor of clinical medicine at Houston Methodist.

Of the observational studies examining wine and other types of alcohol, none have been carried out long-term and the results are often confounded by participants' other lifestyle choices, such as how often they exercise and what their diet looks like.

"This doesn't mean you can't drink wine, but a better way to think about enjoying it is to make sure you're minimizing the known negative outcomes of alcohol by only drinking wine in moderation," Dr. Septimus adds.

How much wine is too much?

When it comes to wine, drinking in moderation means:

  • One serving of wine per day for women
  • Two servings of wine per day for men

Keep in mind, drinking a "glass" isn't necessarily drinking in moderation. A serving of wine is five ounces, so be sure you're not using too big or full a glass as your guide.

Drinking more than the recommended amount of wine per day can lead to both short-term and long-term consequences.

How does wine affect the body?

In the short-term, alcohol can:

  • Impair judgment
  • Disrupt sleep
  • Interact with certain medications you might be taking, including over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Trigger certain health conditions, such as migraines and mood issues

Some of these outcomes are possible even with moderate wine consumption.

"When enjoyed in moderation, wine — specifically — doesn't seem to have as many negative impacts as drinking other alcoholic beverages," says Dr. Septimus. "But, truth be told, the studies supporting this aren't entirely convincing."

Plus, many women don't stop at a single 5-ounce serving of wine and many men don't stop at just two.

"What is certain about wine and other types of alcohol is that drinking beyond moderation has clear impacts on a person's health," warns Dr. Septimus. "Regularly drinking more wine than recommended increases a person's risk of developing cancer, liver disease, chronic pancreatitis, sleep disorders and more."

And while you may hear some debate about whether a small glass of wine every now and then during pregnancy might be okay, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women avoid alcohol completely.

Lastly, all alcohol — wine included — is a source of empty calories. Put simply, there are no beneficial nutrients in alcohol, and each gram carries seven calories with it. Drinking only in moderation can help curb such nutritionless calories, but drinking in excess can easily derail your weight loss or weight management goals.

"If someone enjoys a glass of wine daily — and assuming he or she is in otherwise good health — there's no reason to stop," adds Dr. Septimus. "But there's also no reason someone should feel compelled to start a habit of drinking a glass of wine per day as a preventative."

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