Worried about the extra glass of wine (or two) you’ve indulged in lately? Try not to sweat it! Some wines may actually have anti-aging properties!
We get it, times are stressful. There’s been a lot of changes recently, and many of us are fighting it by practicing mindfulness. It may sound crazy, but one of the best ways to reduce stress and feel younger is to have the right mentality–and to drink Italian wine, of course!
Hear us out. Wine has been part of Italian culture for a LONG time, and most Italians live well into their 80s. Obviously, that’s due to a wide variety of lifestyle choices, but could Italian wine be part of it?
That’s why today we’re discussing whether or not Italian wine has anti-aging properties. So, pour yourself a glass of your favorite Italian wine, and let’s dive in.
First, even if Italian wine does have anti-aging properties, we want to remind everyone that moderation is key. Drinking an entire bottle to yourself might make you feel younger for a few hours, but alcohol consumption is only beneficial up to a certain point (and hangovers are just no fun).
In 2015, the Journal of Internal Medicine published information saying that moderate drinking IS associated with benefits. Some of those benefits include a reduced risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. However, heavy drinking actually increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
When you look at the data, it’s almost always in a U-shaped curve, which supports the idea that alcohol is only beneficial up to a point. To keep you in the clear, it’s recommended to stick to around 24g of alcohol a day. That’s roughly two 12oz beers, two 1.5 oz shots of distilled liquor, or two 5oz glasses of wine.
Pro tip: If you drink low-alcohol wine you can have that extra glass without the guilt!
We also want to remind everyone, that the quality of your wine really matters. If you’re drinking a $6 bottle of wine that’s full of additives and extra sugar, any benefits will be offset by the extra sugar and chemicals. That’s why we strongly encourage you to do some research and find a wine with all the good stuff without any of the bad (*Wink* That’s kind of what we’re all about).
Italian Wine Has Lots of Polyphenols
The first reason Italian wine may have anti-aging properties is because of its polyphenols. These are compounds with a variety of health benefits. They’re found most plentifully in red wine, tea, some berries, and dark chocolate. Plus, they’re thought to improve digestion, brain health, decrease the risk of heart disease, and more.
There are several different types of polyphenols, and you can find a few different ones in that bottle of Italian wine too. Flavonoids, phenolic acids, polyphenolic amides, and other polyphenols like resveratrol make up the main categories.
Wines made from darker grape varieties, however, tend to have more polyphenols. Cannonau, a red wine crafted on the Italian island of Sardinia, is known for its supposed longevity boosting potential. “Sardinians tend to live long lives, well into their 90s, and a key factor seems to be their diet (besides lifestyle and family bonds). Cannonau seems to have the highest levels of polyphenols of any wine….locals drink an average of two glasses a day.”
So, what’s the big deal? Polyphenols are important because they’re considered both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Italian Wine is Dense in Antioxidants
Several different polyphenols found in Italian wine (specifically red wine) are powerful antioxidants. This is important because our bodies need antioxidants to protect cells from free radicals. Our bodies can naturally produce free radicals simply by using oxygen, which is a process called “oxidative stress.”
We also encounter free radicals from other environmental sources like pesticides, certain drugs, radiation, and other pollutants. The younger we are, the easier it is for our bodies to break down free radicals. However, if you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age, it becomes harder for your body to cope. That’s when those unstable molecules can start to cause damage.
Luckily, that daily glass of Italian wine packs quite a punch when it comes to antioxidants. The other weapon wine possesses against aging, is its anti-inflammatory potential.
Italian Wine Has a Lot of Anti-Inflammatories
While inflammation might sound scary, it’s actually a normal and necessary process controlled by your immune system. Whenever you hit the gym really hard and experience sore muscles, that’s inflammation. If you scrape your knee and the skin is tender and irritated, that’s inflammation too. Chronic inflammation, however, can last quite a while, be uncomfortable, painful, and a total bummer.
While we, in no way, recommend treating any inflammatory conditions with Italian wine, it does possess several anti-inflammatory compounds. Honestly, the antioxidants help reduce inflammation as they reduce oxidative stress. So most of the compounds that are antioxidants are also anti-inflammatory.
More and more research, however, is showing that a certain compound in red wines has protective properties when it comes to cardiovascular diseases. That magical substance is called resveratrol.
Resveratrol Has Powerful Anti-Aging Properties
We already know that resveratrol is technically a polyphenol, but let’s take a closer look.
It’s found in grapes but found more plentifully in the darker grape varieties. Considering that red wine tends to have more of these beneficial compounds, that makes sense. More recently, however, many people have begun taking resveratrol supplements for their potential anti-aging properties. But is it worth the hype?
First, it’s important to note that a lot of these studies use supplements with far larger amounts of resveratrol than you would get in a single glass of wine. So, while a lot of these studies sound downright miraculous, you won’t see those same results from one glass of wine. However, it does lend itself to the idea that, over time, moderate wine consumption may provide these benefits.
We do know that resveratrol is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and the Mayo Clinic even says, “Resveratrol might help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevent blood clots.” They do, however, emphasize the need for more study.
One such study did discover that resveratrol is able to bind with specific proteins, activate them, and then inhibit the ability of some inflammatory mediators to multiply. The Department of Pharmacology of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University said, “The natural substance resveratrol thus has major therapeutic potential, particularly when it comes to the treatment of inflammatory diseases that can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system.”
Does Italian Wine Have Anti-Aging Properties?
So, does Italian wine have more anti-aging properties than wine from other regions? Honestly, that’s pretty debatable. The most important thing is that the wine you’re drinking is as natural as possible. When wine is made with care and an eye for purity, you’re likely drinking wine with lots of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and more beneficial compounds.
Remember that no amount of wine can offset an unhealthy lifestyle. So, our advice is to maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine, enjoy time with friends and family, and to keep drinking your daily glass of wine. While there are compounds in wine with anti-aging properties, simply enjoying your life will immediately make you feel younger. Seriously, a smile looks great on everyone!
Cheers! Salute! Santé! Salud! Skål!