Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wine Belly

In some ways, I think that I am not totally normal. I am not and never have been very "girly" in my tastes and interests. As a child, I was a cross between a reading-obsessed honour student and an athletic, outdoorsy tomboy. Pink was my least favourite color.

As an adult, I still notice certain differences between myself and my female friends. I don't wear makeup, ever. I tried nail polish once when I was five years old, and never again since then. I have never colored my hair. I have never been on a diet. I enjoy food, and am happily omnivorous. I am not very interested in shopping. I do it, of course, by necessity, but I don't particularly enjoy it as a pastime. I don't find the lives of celebrities at all interesting. I don't watch TV, which means that many conversations at social gatherings go right over my head.

However, there is one thing that I share with most of my friends, both male and female -the enjoyment of a good glass of red wine. Sometime we drink too much red wine. On the whole, though, I am not much of a drinker.

In recent years, much of the popular literature suggests that moderate drinking, one glass a day of red wine, is actually good for your health. Most of the press has focused on the cardiovascular benefits of red wine, although some articles report that one drink a day of beer or spirits yields similar health benefits. The resveratrol in red wine (which comes from the skin of the grapes) is supposed to have excellent anti-aging properties, including lowering blood sugar, fighting cancer, and providing cardiovascular benefits. Red wine is also said to counteract harmful cortisols, stress-induced hormones.

However, to date, there is still little research on humans, especially longitudinal studies, to back up these claims. For example, from what I have read, it seems that the amount of resveratrol in a glass of red wine is so miniscule that it is unlikely to produce the benefits that have been touted. But we hear what we want to hear. I like to enjoy a glass of wine some evenings; therefore it is gratifying to think that I am also reaping health benefits.

One thing that is clear, though, is that wine has calories in it. They are also the kind of calories that are quickly metabolized by the body. Depending on the type of red wine you are drinking, you will imbibe about 125 calories per five ounce glass. Two or three glasses of wine several evenings a week will add up pretty quickly, calorie-wise. One way in which I am similar to most of my friends is that I am not eager to end up with a wine belly.

So, I am going to continue to have a glass of wine with friends once in a while, or when I come home from work all stressed out. I am going to enjoy every drop of it. But I am not going to fool myself into thinking that the wine is medicinal, or that it is calorie free.

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