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Does drinking wine affect my exercise regimen?

Douglas De Jesus
Posted: August 13, 2015

Q: My best friend and I are workout partners. I'm a fitness buff, eat a healthy diet but like to let my hair down once in a while and drink a glass of wine. My friend believes I'm doing harm to my body by drinking. Is she right?

A: We suggest that your friend bone up on wine and health information. Myriad studies have shown that wine is linked to beneficial effects on the body such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and heart failure in women—especially if one drank moderately and exercised regularly (obviously not at the same time.) Wine also appears to help prevent type 2 diabetes in overweight women. On the other hand, binge drinking before an athletic event can prove to be disastrous in terms of injuries and performance.

A compound found in wine may help you recover from a hard workout, according to a study published July 2015 in the online health journal Biomolecules & Therapeutics. Researchers from the College of Sports Science at the Harbin Normal University in China have discovered a link between supplemental resveratrol intake and a decrease in muscle damage due to strenuous exercise.

The researchers tested laboratory rats to see if resveratrol, an antioxidant found in wine (as well as foods such as chocolate, berries and peanuts) and linked to various health benefits, has a protective effect on "exhausted" muscles. Forty lab rats were organized into five groups of eight: a sedentary control group, an exercise control group and three resveratrol-treated exercise groups given increasing doses of resveratrol (25, 50 and 100 mg/kg body weight) orally once daily for four weeks.

According to the researchers, the results showed that resveratrol supplementation had protective effects against strenuous exercise-induced oxidative damage and lipid peroxidation. The resveratrol significantly lowered the levels of five muscle-damaging enzymes, acids and other compounds that can build up in muscle tissue. All three of the resveratrol-fed groups showed decreased levels, from approximately 27 percent to 53 percent. Increased levels are markers for muscle, cellular and DNA damage. For example, in the case of a suspected heart attack, tests are conducted to see if lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and creatine kinase (CK) are elevated. Resveratrol also decreased DNA damage and increased its repair during strenuous exercise.

What does that mean for humans though? For people, to get a dose of resveratrol equivalent to those given to the rats through wine would require more than anyone could drink, safely or otherwise. More research is needed. Meanwhile, get your friend a protein shake, have yourself one glass of wine (two for men), and toast to a healthy life.

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