A review article appearing in Food & Function, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom, presents a summary of evidence-based scientific data relating the moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages to health. Forum members considered the paper to be a well-thought-out appraisal of the effects that the pattern of consumption (e.g., the type of beverage, regular versus binge drinking, consumption with meals, etc.) affects its risks and benefits. (It is recognized that some of the authors of this publication work primarily with wine, but the review article covers key behaviors that affect the relation of the consumption of all types of alcohol to health.)
The authors describe how the polyphenols and other non-alcoholic components of wine provide anti-oxidants and decrease post-prandial oxidative stress. These phenols can also scavenge free radicals in the mouth and throughout the gastro-intestinal tract, preventing lipid peroxidation as well as the absorption of cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products. Wine also favorably affects urate levels; thus, the antioxidant activity is apparently influenced by two separate mechanisms: wine-derived phenolic compounds and plasma urate. A further important biological property of wine is its potent antimicrobial activity that tends to decrease adverse effects of food-borne and oral pathogens.
The article summarizes the key differences in health effects when alcohol (especially wine) is consumed moderately, with food, and on a regular basis rather than in binges. These differences emphasize why evaluating only the total amount of alcohol consumed, and not how it is consumed, is inadequate when evaluating its effects on health and disease. Further, the authors emphasize how all medical and scientific information concerning the effects of wine and alcohol consumption on human health should be evidence-based and communicated in a competent, credible and unbiased manner.
Reference: Boban M, Stockley C, Teissedre P-L, Restani P, Fradera U, Stein-Hammer C, Ruf J-C. Drinking pattern of wine and effects on human health: why should we drink moderately and with meals? Food Funct 2016;7:2937–2942. DOI:10.1039/c6fo00218h Note on potential conflict of interest: While several of the authors of this paper are members of our Forum, they have had no input into the review of the article. .