If sitting down at dinner or relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine every evening puts you in your happy place, your habit might be benefitting your health. But there are a few caveats to this, so don't stop reading here.
More is not better, so if you currently drink, it's best to stick with just one glass a day for women and two for men. The National Institutes of Health defines a serving of wine (about 12 percent alcohol) as 5 ounces.
It's important to know that the majority of the health benefits associated with wine are attributed to red wine — not white wine or rosé (sorry rosé fans). Red wine contains a polyphenol called resveratrol, which is the main driver of red wine research. Here, we explore exactly what happens to your body when you sip on red vino every day.
If you're not thinking about how to improve your gut health, now's a good time to start. The more research conducted about the gut and its effect on overall health, the more important it becomes.
Having a diverse microbiome seems to be vital for the prevention and treatment of conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer and autoimmune conditions, according to a February 2019 review of the last 10 years of microbiome research, published in the journal Microbiome.
It turns out, red wine may contribute to increased gut diversity, according to an August 2019 study published in Gastroenterology. The researchers studied twins and observed that those who drank red wine, even once every couple of weeks, had greater microbiota diversity than those who didn't drink red wine. It's worth noting that white wine showed a lesser (yet still positive) effect but the researchers didn't find the same association with beer or spirits.
While this study doesn't prove that the polyphenols in red wine can directly increase your gut diversity, it just might give you an edge on diversifying your gut portfolio.
Read more from our 'What Really Happens to Your Body When' series.
The largest body of evidence to support the health benefits of red wine revolves around the heart.
And yes, there are associations between low to moderate red wine consumption and a decreased risk for heart disease, according to an October 2019 review published in Molecules. The factors behind this association include the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of red wine's polyphenols, including resveratrol. What's more, red wine is associated with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes and a reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Experts at Harvard Health Publishing point out that they are still skeptical, indicating that studies on red wine and heart health benefits show associations rather than cause-and-effect relationships. It's also possible that those who drink one glass of red wine a day already engage in other heart-healthy behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet and staying active.
Ongoing research is being conducted to try to solidify the thinking on the heart-healthy benefits of red wine, but one thing's for sure: The research is pointing in the direction in favor of red wine.
Your Mental Health
Before you feel like you've earned the green light to sip 5 ounces a night, there are some things worth considering regarding wine and mental health.
In an August 2013 study published in BMC Medicine, study participants who had two to seven drinks per week were less likely to develop depression — that's good news. However, the study took place over seven years and researchers found that heavy drinking is linked to a higher risk for depression and that women were more likely to experience depression — that's not good news.
So, remember to pour with a heavy hand and stick to just one glass of wine per day for women and two, tops, for men.
While one glass of red wine each night isn't likely to wreak havoc on your weight, it might invite other habits that can.
For many folks, drinking wine leads to mindless snacking. One glass of red wine packs around 120 calories, so over the course of a week, you'll take in an extra 840 calories. If weight loss or weight maintenance is your goal, try to limit yourself to two to three glasses of wine per week.
If you're set on your glass-every-night habit, try diluting 3 ounces of wine with 2 ounces of sparkling water or try to cut around 840 calories per week by making these small tweaks.
Alcohol is considered a sedative and if you're drinking your glass of wine right before bedtime, it's probably going to make you sleepy. However, that's not necessarily good news for your sleep habits.
Health experts know how important sleep is for immune system function and heart health. "One of the drawbacks of having a glass of wine every night is that it could affect the quality of sleep," KeyVion Miller, RDN, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
At a low dose, such as one glass per night, you may actually fall asleep faster, but as the alcohol is metabolized and eliminated from your body, you may not be able to stay asleep, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.
Looking to avoid that potential sleep disturbance? For a 150-pound woman, drinking one glass of wine would take about three hours to metabolize, according to the American Addiction Centers. So make sure to pour your glass about three hours before bedtime.
Having a glass of red wine every night may be good for your heart, but it may make your smile a little less bright.
To keep your pearly whites, well, white, the American Dental Association recommends limiting red wine (in addition to coffee and tea) because it can stain your teeth. This holds true for both natural teeth and veneers.
So, what's a red wine lover to do? Plaque invites stains, so ensure you're a good brusher, ideally even before you indulge in that glass of red.
One Thing to Keep in Mind
For most healthy adults, one 5-ounce serving of red wine each evening is OK. However, if you feel the need to refill that glass over and over, consider speaking to a health care professional.
Dietitian Elizabeth Ward, RDN, of Better is the New Perfect, reminds us to stick to just one glass for women and two for men. "Having any more than that every night may be a sign that you are using alcohol to deal with anxiety, depression or sadness."
If you're not a drinker, or don't like red wine, you can get the same benefits of those polyphenols in red wine by eating red or purple grapes as a snack. You also get a little boost of hydration and fiber as well. Splashing some 100-percent grape juice into sparkling water can be a refreshing a light evening drink as well.
- Microbiome: "A Review of 10 Years of Human Microbiome Research Activities at the US National Institutes of Health, Fiscal Years 2007-2016"
- Gastroenterology: "Red Wine Consumption Associated With Increased Gut Microbiota α-Diversity in 3 Independent Cohorts"
- Harvard Medical School: "Grape Expectations: Is Red Wine Good For Your Heart?"
- Molecules: "Red Wine Consumption and Cardiovascular Health"
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "What is a Standard Drink?"
- BMC Medicine: "Alcohol Intake, Wine Consumption and the Development of Depression: The PREDIMED Study"
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use"
- American Dental Association: "Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction"
- American Addiction Centers: "Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator"