The benefits of moderate drinking are well known and red wine is considered one of the healthiest drinks available. It can cut the risk of strokes, protect against cardiovascular disease and even help you live longer. Wine is also bursting with antioxidants which can help eliminate free radicals from the body and ward of illnesses such as colds and the flu.
Wine, like every alcoholic drink, should be consumed in moderation. The government guidelines currently state that men should drink no more than 21 units a week and women no more than 14. A small glass (125ml) of wine normally contains just over one unit of alcohol.
Although wine does have many health benefits they can be outweighed by the health problems associated with drinking too much. Although people who drink moderately have a lower risk of heart disease, those who drink too much are at high risk of developing the killer disease. Drinking is linked to a fatty liver, hepatitis and liver disease, all which, once they have gone too far, cannot be reversed. Studies have also found women who drink more than two glasses of wine a day have a far higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who abstain.
The most important way to protect your health while still enjoying a tipple is to keep within government guidelines. These have been introduced after many studies on the effects of alcohol on the body and are widely accepted. Drink when you are with friends and family and stay away from any alcohol while you are on your own, as this can spiral into unhealthy drinking habits. One of the most enjoyable ways to drink wine is to have it with a meal, whether it be lunch or dinner, and match your wine to your dish to get the best flavours out of both.
If you like to drink regularly, try to have two "dry" days a week and make sure they are together. For example, stick to soft drinks on Monday and Tuesday and give your liver a chance to take a well-deserved rest. If you are on a night out or at a party, alternate your drinks with water so you don't over indulge and are keeping your system hydrated. If you do find you have drank too much and don't feel well the next day, make sure you drink lots of water and start the day with a couple of bananas. They are one of the most potassium-rich foods available and replace essential nutrients leached from your body by the alcohol.
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