Wine drinking is as old as humanity itself. The argument behind this is that wine confers certain benefits to the consumer, but other studies claim that wine is harmful to health. Interestingly, alcohol requires no digestion and is easily absorbed along in the gastrointestinal tract. The effect of wine in the body are drug like and besides providing energy, it has very little nutritional value, if any. Wine is common in the diets of many people. Emerson and Grob (199) indicate that the general effects of alcohol can be divided into the initial reflex responses and the systemic reactions of alcohol once it is in the tissues of the body (p.71). According to Insel, Turner and Ross (2009), most studies show that wine, beer and spirits appear equal in offering protection against heart disease, with findings showing reduced rates of non-fatal heart attacks among moderate drinkers (p.391). While emphasizing that drinking must be in moderation, the health benefits were attributed to alcohol itself rather than other substances contained in alcohol beverages. In particular, red wine has been found to have a unique protective effect; following the investigation of the French paradox.
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In reference to Duyf (2006), the phytonutrients in wine such as rasveratrol and tannins may offer heart healthy benefits. The low heart disease prevalence in France despite a high fat diet is a pointer to this benefit. Rasveratrol is a flavonoid found in the skins and seeds of grapes and contains estrogen like qualities which help increase the oxidation and breakdown of LDLs. In addition, it is speculated that rasveratrol may boost the body's natural clot-dissolving enzyme, which clots the platelets during injury thus decreasing the flow of blood. This situation may lead to a heart attack or a stroke. It is also claimed that tannins may inhibit platelet clotting (p.173). According to Mudry (2006) it has been reported that polyphenols, salicylic acid, and flavonoids are responsible for conquering cancer, heart disease and age related muscular degeneration as well as generally reduced mortality (p.131). Furthermore, it is argued that drinking a glass of wine once in a while protects health, specifically vision in the long run. The law requires that the producers of wine should label that the wine consumers should consult their doctor about the health effects of wine consumption and also learn about the health effects of wine from the federal government's dietary guidelines p.392). Interestingly, it is said that taken before a meal, wine is said to stimulate appetite and makes the meal more appealing.
Despite the many documented and praised benefits that alcohol has to health, there are equally many problems associated with wine consumption, especially in large quantities. According to Duyf (2006), alcohol is actually a depressant and dulls various brain centers resulting in reduced concentration, coordination, and response time. As a consequence drowsiness and interference with normal sleep patterns, slurred speech and vision (p.173). High consumption of wine are associated with health problems such as high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, and several forms of cancer. Other negative effects of alcohol that are associated with modified behavior upon taking alcohol are motor vehicle accidents. Insel, Turner and Ross (2009) indicate that excessive consumption of alcohol deprives the brain of oxygen and the ensuing struggle eventually causes the brain to shut down its functions that regulate breathing and heart rate (p.380). The effect of this shutdown is loss of consciousness and sometimes leads to coma and death. The result of heavy drinking is the inability to perform normal tasks: the reason why it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
The drinker in the morning following the day of alcohol intake may suffer from a pounding headache, fatigue, muscle pains, nausea and stomach pains and increased sensitivity to light and noise. This situation is referred to as hangover and is caused by dehydration associated with headache and dry mouth. It is argued that excessive drinking for over a long period of time may cause brain deficits that persist even after sobriety is achieved. Factually, chronic alcoholism produces many varied mental disorders. Sustained drinking for a long time leads to permanent damage to brain cells rendering them unable to properly metabolize nutrients (p.383). Alcohol, it is reported, has can be damaging in the early weeks of pregnancy, since it crosses the placenta and into the tiny body of the fetus and its effects are highly magnified. Alcohol interferes with the metabolism of vitamin A and folic acid which are essential for the growth of the fetus; the absence of which is interfered embryonic development (p.387). As a result of this serious medical fact, pregnant women are advised not to take alcohol containing drinks to avoid such problems.
In conclusion, the effect of moderate consumption of alcohol in the normal person can be beneficial. The common benefit that is known is the prevention of heart complications. Considering the potential problems that excessive consumption of wine can cause, it is advisable that measured be taken to ensure moderate or no consumption at all. Importantly to reinforce this position, it should be remembered that health organizations recommend moderate to no alcohol consumption. Furthermore, the standard for moderation should be developed since a mere mention that wine should be taken in moderation is not clear. The fact that alcohol has potentially dangerous effects to healthy that can be avoided if alcohol is not consumed; and that the beneficial effects cannot be measured, avoiding consumption of wine may be the best step to take.
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