Do you love red wine? In terms of healthy living, red wine has gained a lot of attention as a helpful addition to the diet. Typically, it’s thought that a glass of red wine with dinner will have positive effects for heart health. There’s some truth to this. Lately, however, there’s been some stir on the internet about the extent of the health benefits provided by red wine. Rumor has it that a glass of red wine could potentially take the place of an hour’s worth of gym time. It is time to rejoice, right? Well, no, not quite yet.
What is it about red wine that makes it so magical? The key component that has folks advocating for red wine is a substance known as resveratrol. It is a compound that is similar in nature to one produced by the body in relation to exercise. When you take those two ideas into account together, it becomes quite easy to see how the thought of red wine as a substitute for exercise comes into play. Now, it is true that resveratrol does provide some benefit for the human body, but the truth is a little bit more nuanced than that.
Resveratrol is beneficial to the body in the sense that it can help the cells of the body protect themselves. Specifically, it is an antioxidant, which means it protects the cells from the effects of entropy, exposure, wear and tear. The fact that it is so good at this defense is likely why it is found in abundance in the skin of certain nuts and berries. These include blueberries, peanuts, and red grapes. In nature, resveratrol content serves to protect the fruit from fungal infections, as well as damage from the sun. Red wine has resveratrol because red grapes do.
In the case of animal life (including humans), resveratrol can help to protect the cells and the body’s DNA from free radical damage, and other sources of harm. What we know as ‘old age’ is really a number of conditions, often chronic illnesses, that crop up later in life as the body’s defenses grow weaker, and our cells lose strength. Antioxidants and compounds like resveratrol can help to slow this process, giving one a longer, healthier life, and decreasing the odds of falling victim to a chronic or lifelong illness, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other damaging, life-altering disorders.
So where does the workout ‘replacement’ part come in? For starters, there’s a reason working out is so good for you. It releases chemicals that strengthen your body and improve your metabolism, delaying the breakdown of cells and slowing the aging process. Additionally, it can limit the building of fat, making it that much easier to lose weight, instead of packing on the pounds. This is due largely in part to the compound piceatannol, created by resveratrol, which hampers fat cell growth. This all sounds like great news. With all of its health benefits, is resveratrol really an exercise replacement?
While resveratrol is indeed a powerful substance, the levels of it found that are in red wine are simply not high enough for it to serve as a viable replacement for exercise. The quantities of resveratrol one would need in order to really have an effect would lead to alcohol poisoning before fitness. What does this mean? Don’t go canceling that gym membership just yet- but there’s also no reason to be bummed. While it’s true nothing takes the place of exercise, red wine still does offer some health benefits partially for the resveratrol, and partially for the alcohol content.