Drinking – Daily habits part two

It’s the things that we do every day that kill us. Drinking occasionally our bodies would probably cope. However, a bottle of wine each night will do us in eventually. What if each day we were to do small, positive things to enhance our health instead?

Secrets of wine
The wine industry might try to promote wine as an intrinsic part of a healthy diet, but there is no doubt that the effects of heavy drinking are calamitous. On an almost weekly basis some new study is published promoting the benefits of wine consumption and is contradicted by another blaming alcohol for a catalogue of ills.


The grim truth
However much the pro-wine lobby might champion the cause of wine consumption, alcohol is known to be linked to liver and brain damage, cancer, nerve and muscle wasting, blood disorders, raised blood pressure, strokes, skin infections, psoriasis, infertility and birth defects. Alcohol consumption can also be blamed for all sorts of collateral damage such as road accidents and domestic violence. There is no doubt that excessive alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect upon health. If it had been invented in the twentieth century it would almost certainly have been banned. But all studies into health constitute an inexact science. You have to make up your own mind about what you consider safe levels of consumption – and what risks you are prepared to take. What complicates the matter is that alcohol consumption affects us all in different ways. Much depends on our size, gender and metabolism.

Sobering, isn’t it?
One fact that undermines the case of the pro-alcohol lobby is that much of the research is sponsored by those who have a vested interest in the continued growth of alcohol consumption. Yet, aside from the rash claims made by studies published by various universities (many of which happen to be located in winemaking regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy), there is fairly convincing evidence that moderate wine consumption does have some benefits. Drinking moderately, say a glass of wine a day, is believed to reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease, although it is unlikely that it’s the alcohol element of the wine that is beneficial – the same benefits could be achieved by drinking grape juice. Despite technically being toxic, alcohol in the form of red wine offers such benefits as controlling the levels of blood cholesterol and blood-clotting proteins.

The problem of cheap alcohol
A growing problem in recent years that is rarely highlighted is the falling price of alcohol; for example, where wine is concerned, the combination of better technology and increased volume of wine being produced has meant that the cost of a bottle has fallen dramatically over the last twenty years. The fact that alcohol is no longer a luxury and so much more accessible has helped to drive up consumption.

One of the great planks of the wine–health debate is based on what is known as the ‘French paradox’ – the discovery made by US documentary makers that, despite a relatively high intake of alcohol, the French were generally much healthier than people in Anglo-Saxon countries. If this is true, then one of the contributory factors – besides the ‘Mediterranean diet’ high in fresh fruit and olive oil – might be the rate at which alcohol is consumed. The tendency in many Northern European countries is to binge, i.e. to concentrate drinking into a relatively short period of time. In France, since wine is an intrinsic part of the gastronomic experience, the rule seems to be ‘a little but often’.

There is also an argument that those who see drinking as a source of sensual pleasure are likely to drink less wine than those who drink simply to get drunk.


Extracted from The Corporate Wellness Bible by Kate Cook (www.infideas.com). To discuss how your business can benefit from The Corporate Wellness Bible, including how you can order bespoke versions for your company, please email corporatewellness@infideas.com or call David Grant on 01865 514 888.

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