Mixing Wine With Your Health and Wellness Goals
By Shauna Faulisi
Health and wellness is a growing industry, and as a Holistic Nutritionist, I couldn’t be happier! But how does this tie into our love of wine?
Whether you’re watching your weight, training for a fitness goal, or are just straight up sensitive to wine, here are some options for you!
No Gluten Please
If you’re following a gluten-free diet you already know that gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and their hybrids, and is responsible for the elastic texture in doughs.
Wine, for the most part doesn't contain any of the aforementioned ingredient except in some instances.
Some winemakers use flour or wheat paste to seal oak barrels that are used for the aging process. The final product will contain 20 parts per million of gluten.
This is an uncommon practice and was mostly used in European wine making, and usually the extended fermentation process kills all traces of the gluten protein.
Some dessert wines will add flavorings, or coloring that may contain traces of gluten.
To be completely safe, look for wines fermented in stainless steel. Here’s a great chardonnay aged in steel and concrete.
Weight Loss Journey
We’ve all heard of the antioxidant resveratrol. At some point you’ve probably used this antioxidant powerhouse to justify a glass a wine, or two.
Resveritrol is found in the skin of the grapes and contains anti-aging, and heart healthy benefits, but let’s not get carried away.
The famous Harvard study in 2010 found that women who drank moderately (one to two glasses of wine a day) had a lower risk of becoming obese than women who don't drink.
But again, don't get too excited. When we consume alcohol our body stops the fat burning process to metabolize, and burn off any alcohol in its system.
Sleep is another factor in controlling weight gain. One of the best ways to shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight is to keep your hunger hormones in check and get enough sleep.
There’s a sweet-spot in how much wine will help one fall asleep, and how much will interrupt our precious REM sleep. Be mindful of your balance.
The recommendation: French Whites are often low in sugar and alcohol because they grow in colder climates and the grapes themselves don't get that ripe. These Loire Valley whites are great options.
Important! Avoid highly processed "skinny" wines because the term usually connotes cheap bulk juice that's been industrially manipulated.
For the Light Weight
If you’re easily hungover, or find that you don’t metabolize alcohol at the rate of others (AKA get tipsy before everyone else) it could be your genetics, age, and gender.
Ethnic background is a prominent factor which will dictate your ability to metabolize alcohol*. Some ethnic groups have the enzyme that allows one to metabolize alcohol faster than others, while other ethnic groups experience rapid heartbeat, rosy-red cheeks, and the obvious signs of intoxication before anyone else. This is due to the genetic mutation in the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase.
When talking about age, as we get older, natural changes in our brain allow us to feel the effects of alcohol much faster.
As for gender, men do have a one up on the ladies. Women have more body fat than men, so the alcohol isn’t distributed as easily and evenly in her body. Postmenopausal women also have a slower alcohol metabolism rate due the changes in estrogen levels.
If you're sensitive, take it slow and stick to lighter alcohol wines, like this organic Sauvignon Blanc.
*Salahi, Lara. “7 Reasons Your’re Drunker Than Your Friends.” ABC NEWS. ABC News Network, 4 August 2011. Web. 8. December. 2016.
The Headache Prone
If you love drinking vino but hate the headache the next day it could be a number of factors. The most common issue comes from mass produced wines that contain mold/mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by fungi (mushrooms, molds, yeast, etc.)
Okra toxin A (OTA), and histamines are what give you that feeling almost immediately that you're going to have a headache very soon.
OTA contamination also tend to be more prevalent in products made in humid areas.
Unfortunately, we don't have any screening in the wine process or the amount of OTA's allowed in wine produced in the United States. Japan, China, and Europe have heavy regulations on this screening.
My suggestion -- stick to wines that come from dryer climates. California, Tuscany, and South America are good options.
Here's a wine that leaves me feeling great after drinking it.
Training for a Big Event
Be careful because alcohol causes inflammation in the body. While you're working towards a fitness goal, wine can slow your process down.
Inflammation is responsible for joint pain and muscle aches, but If you're really jonesing for a glass of wine stick to a low sulphur choice.
Sulfites in wine develop naturally as a by-product of fermentation. However, some winemakers add sulphur in the wine making process.
Aim for winemakers with strong vineyard practices that keep intervention after harvest as minimal as possible. This Pinot Noir is a great option
Pro Tip: Decant your wine to allow it to aerate and blow off excess sulfur dioxide before you drink.
Be mindful of the quality of wines you're drinking. Drink what you love, and keep your goals in mind. Hydrate and have a great time!