Red wine and Heart Disease

The relationship between red wine and heart disease has been long speculated that Red wine has benefits towards good heart health. The reason for the studies, stems from observations made in France. The "French paradox" has shown that despite smoking and high fat food consumption, deaths from heart disease in this country remains low. Heart disease such as coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks (myocardial infarction). The correlation of Red wine and heart disease has Some researchers speculating the consumption of red wine protects the heart and the blood vessels from damage. The french, like all european countries like Italy, enjoy wine with lunch and dinner. All family members enjoy wine with their food and use meal time as a "get together" to catch up and encourage familial bonding. This triggered a surge in testing the relationship between Red wine and heart disease to see if it has different properties than from any of the other alcohols in protecting the heart.

What the researchers found is that Red wine contains polyphenols, called resveratrol and flavanoids. These are antioxidants that "soak" up the free floating oxygen molecules. Free floating oxygen molecules are created by the body during various cellular functions such as metabolism and conversion of ATP (energy generation). The extra oxygen molecule is very reactive with other processes in the body causing disruption and changing how normal processes are carried out. When this extra oxygen mingles with glucose it causes oxygenation of glucose called glycation. This glycation has been thought to be the cause of atherosclerosis of blood vessels. So to remove this extra oxygen molecule has a lot of health benefits. Resveratrol protects by stimulating NO (nitric oxide), a chemical the body produces that enhances the health of blood vessels. Nitric oxide acts on the epithelial cells of the blood vessels and signals them to relax. The relaxation of the lining of the blood vessels "opens up" the flow of blood allowing more blood flow even in the smallest of vessels. More blood flow means more nutrients and oxygen to get to organs like the heart, liver, pancreas and brain. By "opening up" the blood vessels it also reduces blood pressure. Red wine is the not the only food stuffs to contain antioxidants, multiple healthy foods like fruits and vegetables contains antioxidants in larger levels that provide a better heart benefit. The marriage of Red wine and heart disease in literature has prompted the conclusion that 1 glass of red wine a day can be heart healthy and professionals wouldn't discourage this Behaviour. Red wine in moderation, 1 glass a day is fine, to have more than that can turn the benefit into detriment by the alcohol found in Red wine. It is therefore possible that the relationship between red wine and heart disease can have negative effects if not careful.

Alcohol is a toxin to the body. The body can not readily use alcohol in its present form so it must processed by the liver to convert it and eliminate it from the body. 80% of the consumed alcohol arrives at the liver and enters the liver passively. Enzymes use energy to convert the alcohol to various different things like Uric acid. Uric acid is one chemical that has been linked to high blood pressure and is the cause of gout. Gout is inflammation of joints that is very painful. Studies have shown that by taking Allopurinol (a Uric acid reducer) it has lowered blood pressure significantly. The alcohol continues to be broken down into acetaldehyde and citrate, by now it is unrecognizable as alcohol. Acetaldehyde causes proteins to not work properly and the more alcohol someone consumes the more acetaldehyde is made. Over time this causes cirrhosis of the liver. Citrate gets converted into fat cells by way of Low density lipoproteins (LDL) and free fatty acids (FFA's), this where the "beer belly" comes from. The FFA's enter the muscle cells causing insulin resistance. The metabolism of alcohol also creates another substrate called JNK 1 which causes inflammation inside the liver. Therefore consuming a lot of alcohol has detrimental effects on the heart and body. You only need to look at alcoholics to see the effects of alcohol over time.

The result is that Red wine and heart disease go hand in hand, good or bad and is not healthy for the body in large quantities. 1 glass of red wine should be the limit. Red wine is made from grapes and the resveratrol that protects the heart is found in the skin of grapes. Many studies show the benefit of drinking red wine, but just as many studies show no benefit at all. Don't use the studies as an excuse to continue or start to drink red wine, if eating a handful of grapes gives the same benefit as a glass of red wine, then why not just eat the grapes? Although, it is more fun to drink the red wine. If protecting your heart is your only concern then eat the grapes and don't touch the red wine. The long term effects of alcohol use outweighs any benefit found in the glass of red wine.

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