Healthy or harmful: How much wine should we really be drinking?

There have been many recent conflicting reports about the supposed health benefits and detriments of drinking wine.

While some claim that drinking wine frequently can be good for you, with a recent report claiming that doing so can supposedly decrease your chances of developing dementia, others are not as convinced by the association between drinking wine on a regular basis and life expectancy.

A recent study conducted by doctors at Washington School Medicine stated that people who drink wine every day may increase their risk of an early death by 20 per cent.

So, is wine actually good for you, and if so, how much should you be drinking?

The current guidelines for drinking alcohol state that people should aim to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

This equates to less than a glass of wine every day, as Tracy Parker, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, explains.

“Drinking too much alcohol can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health,” she tells The Independent.

“Current guidelines recommend we don’t drink more than 14 units a week – this is equivalent to six glasses of wine or six pints a week.”

While the guidelines stipulate refraining from drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, Parker advises drinking even less in order to keep your health in check.

“This is a sober reminder that the alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and you should aim to drink well below the threshold to keep your risk of heart disease or other health risks from drinking alcohol low,” she says.

Drinking alcohol in excess can have a huge impact on your health, as it could lead to you developing various health issues later on in life.

“In the short term drinking can increase the risk of accidents, by making you vulnerable and more likely to take risks,” says Dr John Larsen, director of evidence and impact at Drinkaware.

“It can also lead to weight gain, affect the way you look, impact sleep quality and worsen mental health.

“In the longer term it can also increase the risk of developing a range of health conditions, including heart and liver disease and seven different types of cancer.”

While overindulging on alcohol may lead to a myriad of health issues, drinking wine in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet could prove beneficial in the long run.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland discovered that following an anti-inflammatory diet that includes chocolate and moderate amounts of red wine and beer could lead to a longer lifespan.

According to the NHS, it would be advisable for adults to spread the weekly alcohol intake over three days or more, without going over the 14-unit maximum.

However, according to Fran McElwaine, director of the UK Health Coaches Association, the amount of alcohol that you should be drinking depends entirely on the individual.

“Different people can process alcohol more, or less, efficiently depending on their genetics, age, state, of overall health and level of fitness,” she says.

“If we are young and fit, the body can process a glass of wine relatively easily but as we get older, or are battling with stress or illness, our ability to efficiently manage alcohol decreases significantly.”

McElwaine suggests working with a health coach in order to figure out exactly how much alcohol your body is able to process efficiently.


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