Can Wine Help Prevent You from Having a Stroke?

Posted by Luisa de Luca on

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Alcohol has certainly made its place in this world.  We use alcohol when celebrating a special occasion.  We use it to help us relax after a long day’s work. When we feel the pressing need to calm down, we often reach for the alcohol to do the job.

Red wine is one of many people's "go-to" drink of choice. That's good, because evidence suggests that a moderate amount of red wine can aid the reduction in the chance of stroke.  However, research also shows that too much alcohol, even red wine, can contribute to your chance of stroke.  

How do we know how much is safe to drink?

Consider the word ‘moderate’ when discussing the use of red wine consumption. What qualifies as moderate? There are so many variables to consider. Our genetic make up varies from person to person. Each person's tolerance level varies. A large person can usually consume more wine/alcohol than a smaller person without becoming legally intoxicated. Some people feel light headed faster than others after a glass of wine. Some people get headaches even if they have consumed a small portion. Everyone has a different predisposition to alcoholism and other addictions.  Those with a family history of alcoholism and addiction are genetically at higher risk. 

How does alcohol, specifically red wine, help to prevent strokes? Resveratrol is found in red wine. It is from the skin and seed of red grapes. It produces a chemical that helps reduce the risk of stroke. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce inflammation.  Inflammation contributes to the clogging of vessels.   It  generates congestion in the blood vessels which increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease.  Cerebrovascular disease is a disease of the blood vessels in the brain, especially the arteries in the brain. Inflammation also causes heart disease, and hemorrhagic stroke.  Resveratrol combats all these unwanted problems as well as acting as a antioxidant, which means that it combats free radicals.  Free radicals are chemicals produced before, during and after a stroke.

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins1 say they have discovered the way red wine protects the brain from stroke damage. In their study, scientists induced an ischemic stroke, two hours following a modest dose of  resveratrol. This was done by cutting off the blood supply to the animal’s brain, in this case rats were used. The rats that had been given the dose resveratrol suffered far less damage than the rats that did not receive the resveratrol.

Sylvain Dore, Ph.D, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says resveratrol increases levels of heme oxygenase2, an enzyme that shields nerve cells from damage in the brain. If a person has been drinking modest amounts of red wine, the elevated enzyme levels are already there ready to do their job. Far less damage will be done because of the enzyme presence. The rats' brain cells that did not receive any resveratrol at all died after their stroke.

Glass half full

Ok, that’s enough about the biology and chemistry of the matter. We want to drink our red wine to strengthen our brains and heart. Figure out what a moderate amount would be for you. Generally speaking, 1 or 2 glasses of red wine every week would seem to be a safe amount in order to receive the healing benefits. Here we want to point out that if your doctor has told you to avoid alcohol completely, or if you struggle with alcohol addiction, avoid it altogether.

We hope you have be enlightened by our little report on the effects of red wine. We also hope we have made it a little easier for you to consider what amount is the right amount for you.

Sources:

  1. http://www.seniorark.com/HealthArticles/ResveratrolandStroke.htm
  2. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/How_Red_Wine_May_Shield_Brain_From_Stroke_Damage

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