Happy New Year wine lovers and friends! Can you believe we are kicking off 2020? As with any other new year, the inspiration of new beginnings and promising futures is in the air. Maybe even more so in 2020 considering we are at the beginning of a whole new decade! I’m not typically one to make new year’s resolutions, as I believe that you can reinvent yourself at any time and in any way that you wish. Life is yours for the taking! That being said, I do feel that the actualization of a whole new decade, especially one I am beginning as a 31-year-old woman, has given me a swift kick in the ass. I have SO many goals and dreams that I am determined to achieve this year. I look forward to sharing the journey with you here.
While I live a relatively balanced lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise, I know that January is the time of year when many are intent on making healthier lifestyle choices. Especially on the heels of the eating and drinking marathons amidst the holidays. If you’re in need of a reset in January, perhaps you, like countless others around the world, are considering dry January. A whole month of abstaining from alcohol! I understand. I’ve been there. I once successfully completed a dry January. And just last year when my gut needed a reset, I went a whole month without drinking wine and alcohol in general. But not drinking wine was the most difficult thing to give up during my month long cleanse.
If you’re reading this blog, then I am certain you are a true wine lover like me. And I am here to tell you that if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and start 2020 feeling the best you yet, dry January is not necessary. You can still drink wine and live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I’ve lined up 7 reasons why you should continue drinking wine in January 2020. You can have your wine and drink it, too!
#1: Flavonoids. Flava-what?
We all know that wine is made from fermented grapes. So it would seem logical that there must be some beneficial chemistry involved in our favorite beverage considering it’s essentially fruit. Enter flavonoids, a beneficial compound naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Flavonols are one type of flavonoid found in red wine, which are recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Red wine can contain up to 45mg/L of beneficial flavonols.
We all have the general idea that antioxidants are good for you, but in case you need a refresher, antioxidants help to protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals in the body. The combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of flavonols have been associated with cardiovascular disease prevention, improved quality of blood vessel walls, and protecting LDL cholesterol from free radical damage, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods.
#2: Double the Flavonoids in Sardinian Cannonau
Did you know that Sardinia is one of five blue zones in the world? Blue zones are areas with higher concentrations of centenarians or people who live to be 100 years or older. Having spent the past three months in Sardinia, I can attest that in addition to a naturally active lifestyle, close family ties, and a Mediterranean diet, daily moderate consumption of Cannonau wine has been pivotal in contributing to longevity on the island.
Cannonau is the Sardinian version of Grenache. The cultural norm is to have a glass of wine or two with every meal, except colazione (breakfast), of course. Actually, when we sit down for lunch in the Sanna household and there’s no wine on the table, Mamma Pina is always confused and rectifies the situation immediately. “Un bicchiere di vino si sta bene.” A glass of wine is good for you.
Science has backed what the Sardinians have practiced for hundreds of years. Sardinian Cannonau has been found to have two to three times the level of flavonoids as other wines, according to Blue Zones. So if you’re set on making healthier decisions this January, opt for a bottle of Sardinian Cannonau! My favorite producers are Cantine di Orgosolo and Cantina Berritta. Hit me up if you need advice on a bottle of longevity juice!
#3: Anthocyanins – The Other Flavonoid
If you are one of countless Cabernet Sauvignon lovers (shoutout to my California brothers and sisters!), then you have been reaping the benefits of anthocyanins. Actually, if you drink red wine in general, anthocyanins have been helping you out. These flavonoids are naturally produced red, blue, and purple pigments found in the skins of berries, in flowers, and in other fruits and vegetables. Similar to flavonols, anthocyanins also offer beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These flavonoids have been shown to lower high blood pressure, according to this study from PubMed. Anthocyanins are also recognized for their ability to help manage weight loss and prevent erectile dysfunction.
Remember, the darker the wine, the higher the concentration of anthocyanins. All the more reason to skip dry January and pour yourself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
#4: The Many Benefits of Reservatrol
Reservatrol is perhaps one of the most beneficial polyphenols found in wine. Produced naturally by plants in response to harmful pathogens, reservatrol can also be found in cacao, blueberries, and peanuts. Many cosmetic and supplement products even extract reservatrol from plant sources for its many health benefits.
These said health benefits are extensive. To name a few:
- Boost brain health and prevent dementia
- Prevent free radical damage with powerful antioxidants
- Fight inflammation from toxins and allergens
- Inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in the body
- Assist in the prevention of lung disease with its anti-inflammatory properties
- Prevent damage to blood cells while lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol
While some studies say a glass of wine a day offers enough reservatrol to reap its beneficial properties, other studies disagree. But it couldn’t hurt, right? A glass a day keeps the doctor away! If you are a Pinot Noir lover like me, then you may be getting more reservatrol than other wine lovers, as Pinot Noir has been shown to have the highest concentration of this beneficial polyphenol.
#5: Polyphenols Found in Red Wine Are Good For Your Gut
If you are on social media, read the news, or have remotely had your eyes or ears open over the last few years, I’m sure you’re aware that a healthy gut microbiome is essential for good health. But did you know that red wine contains specific polyphenols that have been proven to aid in the production of gut microbiota? More specifically in the microbiota that assist in the processing of allergens in the body. According to this study. there is a direct correlation between the intake of red wine as a source of stillbenes and the relative abundance of Bacteroides in the gut. Bacteroides and Firmicutes make up 90% of the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. While stillbenes are nonflavonoid phytochemicals with a polyphonic structure that have been proven to play a role in the prevention of cancer. Bottoms up, baby!
#6: Red Wine Is An Excellent Source of Catechins
Catechins are a natural polyphenolic phytochemical found in fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants. While green tea is one of the most widely recognized sources of catechins, red wine is not far behind. In fact, this is one of the few polyphenols in red wine the that has been proven to have impactful health benefits even in low doses, i.e. a glass a day.
The consumption of catechin-rich foods have been linked to the prevention and treatment of various chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Catechins have been linked to delayed tumor development and are another source of antioxidants for the body, protecting cells further from free radical damage.
#7: Have A Glass, Love Yourself. Life is Short.
For many of us wine lovers out there, a glass of wine is so much more than an alcoholic beverage. Yes, there are times when after a long, never-ending day at work you just need a glass of wine to take the edge off. But there is a reason why wine has been entwined within various cultures for thousands of years. Wine is art. Wine is culture. Wine is alive! The science, passion, love, and dedication that goes into making each and every bottle of wine is something that deserves to be revered with every glass. For me, savoring a glass of wine is an opportunity to be mindful, to be present. To really be in the moment and focus on what I’m tasting, where the wine came from, how it was made, and who made it. Drinking wine can be a practice of mindfulness, meditation, and self-love, all of which I plan on practicing more of in 2020.
Well, there you have it wine lovers! 7 reasons why you should skip dry January and drink wine instead. If you’re taking part in dry January, more power to you. However, I will be drinking wine. Cheers to the new year!