The anti-inflammatory diet is quite similar to a Mediterranean-style diet, and one point the two have in common is the moderate use of red wine.
From an anti-inflammatory point of view, resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, has been suggested in laboratory and animal studies to slow cancer growth, reduce inflammation and decrease activation of the protein NF-kB. Activation of NF-kB is critical for normal immune response, but when hyperactivated it can contribute to inflammation, autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Resveratrol has also been suggested to help protect the lining of our blood vessels, hence red wine’s suggested heart health benefits. However, resveratrol isn’t very bioavailable (i.e., we don’t absorb it very well), so how applicable the laboratory research is to humans is uncertain.
Since foods, and nutrients, don’t exist in a vacuum, it’s possible that the multiple polyphenols found in red wine act synergistically to help suppress cancer and promote heart health more than would be expected from individual components like resveratrol.
Whatever the possible health benefits of red wine, this is not a case where more is better. Moderation is key. Moderation for men means no more than two alcoholic beverages per day, for women it’s one a day (not fair, but there you have it). Too much alcohol in any form can cause changes in your intestinal lining, allowing bacteria to pass through into your bloodstream, triggering inflammation. If you don’t currently drink, don’t start…there are plenty of healthy lifestyle habits that can reduce your cancer and heart disease risk, like eating lots of vegetables and getting regular physical activity.
One serving of wine is 5 fluid ounces, so be careful if you like to use the large glasses that are typically suggested for red wine to improve aeration and development of the complex aromas and flavors. In other words, do NOT take your wine-drinking cues from “Cougar Town”: