Wine is good for heart, brain

MILAN, Italy — Wine is good for the heart and the brain, for everybody and even for type-2 diabetics, Italian and international experts said at a conference held here at the Wine Pavilion of the Milan world exposition on Tuesday.

Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are responsible for over two-thirds of deaths in the Western world, but drug therapies have not always proved to be effective.

“That is why science has begun to explore new paths, finding answers in what simply has always been under our observation, the Mediterranean diet, a secular heritage,” said Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the department of epidemiology and prevention at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Pozzilli.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by widespread consumption of plant foods, fresh fish, olive oil and a moderate consumption of wine at meals. Meat, dairy products and eggs are instead consumed less frequently.

De Gaetano explained that during the last decade, data of an epidemiological study cohort named “Moli-sani” have clearly shown that the Mediterranean diet and especially wine, a fundamental component, consumed in moderation “reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and significantly decreases total mortality.”

Experts said great benefits have been demonstrated not only in the field of primary prevention, but also in patients already affected by a previous clinical event or at high cardiovascular risk.

“We are telling visitors who care for health from all over the world that wine, when consumed in right quantity, is very good for health,” Paolo Panerai, Executive Vice President of the Comitato Grandi Cru d’Italia, which unites most of the highest-level wine producers, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the conference.

“The cardiovascular effects were already known, but what has been revealed here today is the (positive) effect on cognitive disorders, thus including Alzheimer. Wine reduces and slows down these processes,” he noted.

Another example is people with type-2 diabetes.

“A very recent study carried out by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, which contributed to this conference, has shown that wine consumed in moderation by type-2 diabetics is effective in reducing the risk of death or in the incidence of new cardiac events, favoring also good cholesterol,” Panerai went on saying.

Not only the experts illustrated what are the positive effects of wine, but also the complex mechanisms that make this possible.

For example wine, such as fruit and vegetables, provides large amounts of antioxidants which generate, through auto-oxidation, small amounts of oxidants that activate the antioxidant response, which supports the anti-inflammatory effect, said Fulvio Ursini, a professor of biochemistry at the School of Medicine of the University of Padua.

The beneficial effects of wine are also confirmed based on the increasingly accurate studies of the human intestinal microbiota, or the study of bacteria residing in the intestines, noted Kieran Tuohy, lead researcher of the Nutrition and Nutrigenomics Group of the Edmund Mach Foundation.

“The small microbes derived from short-chain fatty acids and phenolic acids, highly present in wine, have positive effects on the intake of energy and the immune system, and thus on brain development and cognitive functions,” he pointed out.

So is wine definitely good for health?

“Sure, provided that we drink it during meals, regularly and not only at weekends, and start with small doses to gradually increase to one or two glasses a day,” Enzo Grossi, Scientific Advisor of the Italian Pavilion at the nutrition-themed Expo Milano 2015, who coordinated the conference, told Xinhua.

These basic rules of “wine-drinking culture,” he said, should be especially taught to Asian people, who genetically lack the ability to “detoxify” alcohol.

“Beginning with sparkling wine, then still white wine, and gradually shift to young red wine and aged red wine could be a good start. After taking these precautions, wine will be a healthy pleasure for everyone in the world,” Grossi stressed. PNA/Xinhua/Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian