Drink (in moderation) and be merry
Welcome to La Vie en Bleu a series where I share what Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, reveals as powerful and simple lessons that can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life. We continue with the fourth of nine lessons from the Blue Zones, five unique communities that have common elements of diet, lifestyle and outlook on life that have led to not only an amazing number of years lived, but also a better quality of life.
Lesson Four: Grapes of Life
A daily drink or two of wine has been associated with lower rates of heart disease. However, alcohol use has also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. The secrets of the Blue Zones suggest that moderation and consistency are key. In Sardinia, for example, it’s common to drink a glass of dark red wine with each meal and whenever friends get together. In Okinawa, sake is drunk daily with friends.
Having a glass of wine with a meal helps make it easier to relax and eat more slowly. It lends an atmosphere of seriousness, refinement and luxury, all of which can help counter the tendency to eat mindlessly. For instance, if you open a bottle of wine, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll enjoy it while eating in front of the television.
The French poet Baudelaire said that if wine were to disappear from human production, there would be a void in human health and intelligence, and that would be worse than all the excesses it’s guilty of. Hmmm, would you agree?
When consumed with food and in moderation, wine can enhance your health. Aside from containing fewer calories than most alcoholic rinks, fine wine is full of nutrients and recognized to thin the blood and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Red wine offers additional benefits as it contains artery-scrubbing polyphenols that can possibly help fight arteriosclerosis. However, when daily consumption exceeds a glass or two, the risks and toxic effects of drinking alcohol outweigh any health benefits. Again, moderation is key.
Tips and strategies of introducing a glass of wine into a daily routine
Buy high-quality red wine
The Sardinians drink Cannonau in their Blue Zone, but any dark red wine should do.
Keep it simple
Wine can be a perfect accompaniment to a meal. It can be considered a gift to be enjoyed, not abused. Drink it with friends, family and always with food.
To reiterate, a glass or two of red wine per day is the most you need to take advantage of its health benefits. Overdoing it negates the health benefits. Drink in moderation.
Have you started to put the lessons from the Blue Zones to work in your life? If so, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. La Vie en Bleu will continue with lesson number five from the Blue Zones on how to live a healthier and happier life. Won’t you join me?
The Blue Zones include:
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, California