Wine Away Depression

To you, and yours, and theirs, and mine,
I pledge with you, their health in wine!

Oh, don't you love it when researchers "prove" something that most of us have intuited long ago? I sure do. The findings out in August of this year published in Biomed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine tell us that moderate amounts of wine consumed may have similar protective effects on depression to those that have been observed for coronary heart disease. What delicious findings, especially right before the Holidays!

During the holiday season, many people offer thanks for the good health offriends and family over the past year, and wishes for good health in the coming year. But sometimes we can feel a little guilty toasting good health with an alcoholic beverage. But no more!

Researchers in Spain analyzed 2,822 women and 2,683 men for a period of seven years. It's interesting that this study was not done by a wine producer, but by a company that conducts research dealing with nutrition and cardiovascular risks. The ages of the participants were between 55 and 80, with no past history of depression or problems related to alcohol. For up to seven years, their alcohol consumption, mental health and lifestyles were followed up through annual visits, repeated medical exams, interviews with dieticians and questionnaires. The main alcoholic beverage consumed by the study participants was wine. When analyzed, it was shown that those who drank moderate amounts of wine each week were less likely to suffer from depression. The lowest rates of depression were seen in the group of individuals who drank two to seven small glasses of wine per week. These results remained significant even when the group adjusted them for lifestyle and social factors, such as smoking, diet and marital status.

Researchers say that drinking 2 to 7 glasses of wine a week may reduce the risk of depression.

Researchers emphasized that further findings suggested that wine consumption that exceeded a weekly rate of seven glasses could increase an individual's risk for developing depression. The authors of the study added that higher consumption of alcohol was more often attributed to men, with over 88% drinking in excess of 15 grams of alcohol daily. Previous studies from the same trial have suggested that alcohol consumption that is low to moderate could protect against developing heart disease. Authors of this study say the process could be linked. A toast to moderation is in order!

Professor Miguel A. Martenez Gonzolez, from the University of Navarra (Spain), senior author of the paper, said, "Lower amounts of alcohol intake might exert protection in a similar way to what has been observed for coronary heart disease. In fact, it is believed that depression and coronary heart disease share some common disease mechanisms." Previous studies have indicated that non-alcoholic compounds in the wine, such as resveratrol and other phenolic compounds may have protective effects on certain areas of the brain.

The heart-health benefits of red wine are attributed to resveratrol. Because resveratrol can bond and dissolve with water, fats, and oils it can offer more effective protection than other well known antioxidants. In addition to its antioxidant properties, resveratrol may act as an antimutagen. Promising research is being done on its cancer-related health benefits.

So this holiday season and all year long toast to your good health, and really mean it without the guilt!

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