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Drinking Wine As We Age

Red wine has long been thought and found to have health benefits, but as we age is it still beneficial? Older adults have less water in their bodies, so the alcohol they drink does not dilute at the same rate as when they were younger. With more alcohol circulating in the blood, older adults are more likely to feel the effects of alcohol quicker. Additionally, as we age our metabolism slows down, so alcohol effects last longer.

The American Heart Association recommends that if you are going to consume wine or alcohol to do so, of course, in moderation. For women that means one 4 oz. glass of wine per day and for men one to two 4 oz. glasses of wine per day. The American Heart Association also urges non-drinkers not to begin drinking simply for the health benefits. If you do not drink it is better health wise to stay a non-drinker than to begin consuming alcohol.
 
It is good to know what kind of benefits wine can have. It is also important to know what the cautions are of drinking and how it can affect your body. With that being said, let’s get into benefits and cautions for seniors!

Benefits

Promotes Heart Health

There is an antioxidant in wine called resveratrol that helps protect the heart and the arteries around the heart. Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes, so it is also believed that eating grapes or drinking grape juice can have the same outcome for your heart.

Reduces Risk of Depression

A nutrition research study conducted in Spain found that those who drank a moderate amount of wine (2 – 7 glasses a week) were less likely to suffer from depression. However for those who drank more than seven glasses of wine a week, there was an increase in depression among the participants.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Red wine contains antioxidants that help slow the passage of glucose through the small intestine and in to the blood stream, which can prevent sugar spikes. Not only have studies shown that red wine can improve blood sugar control, but that it can also help improve good cholesterol levels.

Reduces Risk of Dementia

Moderately drinking red wine can reduce the risk of developing dementia. Resveratrol, the same antioxidant that promotes heart health, keeps blood vessels open and flexible by reducing the stickiness of blood platelets. This helps maintain a good blood supply to the brain. Studies have shown that wine can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 80%.

Cautions

Affects Sleep

Alcohol can interrupt the way that we sleep. Initially it may make falling asleep easier, but the quality of sleep is the part that is affected. Disruptions may occur such as restlessness, awakening from dreams, and not being able to easily go back to sleep. Seniors are especially at risk for sleep disruption because the levels of alcohol in the blood and brain are higher than those who are younger and drink the same amount.

Causes Weight Gain

A 5 oz. glass of wine can contain anywhere from 123 to 150 calories. Our bodies digest calories in wine and alcohol differently than the calories in food. When we drink alcohol it is broken down into acetate, which the body burns before any other calorie. This means that the body holds on to those other calories that you ate or drank throughout the day, storing it as fat and increasing weight.

Causes Medication Side Effects

Mixing alcohol and medication can be dangerous. Certain medications have ingredients that react with alcohol and make the medicine less or negatively effective.  It is important to know the side effects of medicine, especially if alcohol is consumed while on those meds. If the medication says not to drink alcohol while taking that med then do not drink alcohol.

So I Can Still Drink Wine?

It depends. There are benefits, but there are also risks. Speak to your doctor. Letting your doctor know how much you are drinking and what you are drinking will help them to effectively determine if there are risks. Yes, they will counsel on the potential hazards of alcohol and medication, and that’s to ensure safety. If you feel like you may be having a problem with the effects of drinking or are drinking too much, talk to your doctor. They can guide you as to the next steps.

Bowes In Home Care has locations throughout the Chicagoland area. If you or a loved one are in need of skilled in-home care please contact us through e-mail or call us at 847.742.5757.