My friend and colleague Michael Cervin recently penned an article for IntoWine.com, titledThe Angry Liver, highlighting the health hazards of my chosen second career – namely, kind of sort of drinking for a living. He asked me to share some thoughts on the matter, which you can read in the finished article.
While most of Michael’s focus is on the hits that our livers are potentially taking by being attached to the bodies of those of us who have decided to make professional wine-related stuff our living, my quote in his article has more to do with overall health, in the form of a warning that many wine lovers conveniently like to forget: wine contains alcohol, and alcohol consumption is empty calorie intake.
This begs the question “how many empty calories?!??,” the answer to which is “it depends.” Generally, for most dry and sparkling wines, the answer is about 100 to 130 calories per 5oz glass. WebMD has a nice little infographic on this (see inset pic – click to embiggen), as well as the following helpful reminder:
“…alcohol also delivers empty calories and not many nutrients… The higher the ABV, the higher the calorie count.”
I would revise this slightly to “the higher the ABV and sugar content, the higher the calorie count” – meaning that sweeter wines (especially those with more booze, like Port) will potentially hit your waistline harder.
At this point in any such related discussion, I usually get asked “how the hell do you not weigh 300 lbs?!?” The answer is a combination of anxious temperament, genetics, and making exercise a priority (especially as the salt-and-pepper hair thing becomes more and more prominent). The moral of this short story is that wine is not a zero-sum game: there are likely several health benefits to moderate consumption, and there are definitely detriments to over-consumption (particularly to your liver and waistline).
Recently, an examination of a rather large data set of studies (we’re talking nearly 200 countries, and over 690 pieces of work involving millions of people) was published in Lancet, and most of my alcohol-loving friends just about lost their sh*t.
The reason for the theoretical emergency bowel-vacating stemmed from media coverage of one of the Lancet study’s late conclusions, and the one harpooned by the media and shared pretty much everywhere (emphasis mine):
“Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for disease burden worldwide, accounting for nearly 10% of global deaths among populations aged 15–49 years, and poses dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today. The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to show how much alcohol use contributes to global death and disability. Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”
That pithy little emphasized sentence above is the scientific equivalent of constructing a late-game, come-from-behind, potentially-game-winning NFL drive that started on your team’s own ten-yard line, culminating in a 3rd-and-long breakout run during which your guys fumble the f*cking ball at the goal-line and emerge with a heartbreaking loss. This is because there is a wealth of health-related insight that could come out of the Lancet study, and they chose to focus on the one aspect that the data don’t actually support directly; that conclusion is controversial at best, and is only loosely inferred from the analysis, based on the facts and results cited in the very study itself.
Another quick-hit this week to let you know that I was recently a guest on MyFitnessRx.net‘s Running episode, talking about some recent fun/interesting health-related facts/studies pertaining to our favorite adult libation.
You can check out the specific segment in the embed below. Here’s how you can check out the My Fitness Rx show on a regular basis:
Last week, MyFitnessRx.net aired a segment featuring yours truly, waxing all dime-store-philosophical like about the healthy heart benefits of red wine consumption (in moderation, you lushes!). Green screens and open bottles of wine FTW!
My brief segment with show host Tanya Stroh is below; you can check out the full episode as well. If you find yourself among the healthily-inclined, here are some details on how you can binge on past and future episodes of the show:
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