Wine: As Wonderful for your Kidneys as for Your Heart?

320px-Red_Wine_GlasContributed by Jenni Phelps: The fact that wine promotes cardiovascular health has long been espoused by scientists, but exciting news suggests that wine may also be linked to healthier kidneys.  A study carried out by Dr. Tapan Mehta and his team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Centre, in Aurora, has shown that those with healthy kidneys who consumed a moderate amount of wine per day (in the region of 4 ounces) had a 37 per cent lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Additionally, those who already had kidney disease who drank the same amount per day had a 29 per cent lower likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular events. The scientists came to these conclusions after analysing data obtained over three years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a yearly study carried out by the National Center for Health Statistics. The data was obtained from over 5,800 Americans, over 1,000 of which had chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The Crucial Link Between the Heart and Kidneys

Approximately 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, defined by the National Kidney Foundation as “a gradual loss of kidney function over time”.

The risk factors for kidney disease are, interestingly, strikingly similar to those for heart disease. They include: smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. As Dr. Mehta told Wine Spectator, “Apparently, nobody has looked at this before. But in the general population, the common risk factors (for kidney and heart disease) were so similar that we were led to hypothesize that wine intake would also lower cardiovascular disease risk in patients who have kidney disease.” Suffering from chronic kidney disease greatly increases one’s chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the latter is the leading cause of death for all people suffering from CKD. The aim of Dr. Mehta’s study, therefore, was to glean whether or note moderate drinking could lower the chance of cardiovascular diseases in CKD patients, and whether it could promote kidney health in the population at general. His findings are promising indeed for all drinkers of wine, though the key is moderation; not only can excess amounts o wine reverse its beneficial effects, it can also cause issues such as addiction, which carries a whole new set of health risks for consumers. Moreover, rehabilitation can be a lengthy and challenging process. As treatmentforaddiction.com notes, “detoxification may be a medical necessity, and untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal.”

The Mystery of Wine

The reasons why a moderate consumption of wine are linked to greater kidney health is as yet unknown. Dr. Mehta suspects that it may have something to do with the fact that moderate consumers of wine tend to have lower protein levels in their urine. On the other hand, as kidney disease progresses, levels of protein in the urine tend to increase. Another secret may lie in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of resveratrol.

Red or White? Does it Matter?

Further studies need to be carried out in order to establish maximum amounts of wine to be consumed to obtain maximum benefits. Additionally, the question of whether white wine has the same beneficial effect on the kidneys as red wine, remains to be seen, since the subjects of the study were not asked to identify which type of wine they drank. Dr. Mehta logically believes that red wine would likely hold more beneficial effects than white, bearing in mind its high resveratrol content. Various studies have linked the consumption of resveratrol to cancer protection, cardiovascular health, longer lifespans and even the ability to keep vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay. As Harvard University notes, “Exactly how resveratrol might do all this is still a mystery. One possibility is that it turns on genes that make sirtuins, ancient proteins found in virtually all species. Activating sirtuins kicks off a response that fights disease and prolongs life.” In addition to red wine, resveratrol can also be found in red grapes, blueberries and pistachios, so make sure to stock up on these healthy snacks while enjoying your daily glass of wine!

Future Testing

Excited by their results, Dr. Mehta and team are planning to immerse themselves in experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) soon, to glean more information on the connection between wine consumption and kidney health, and the causes of the promising results thus obtained.

About the Author: Jenni Phelps is a former nutrition and health worker who believes in balance and moderation in all things, after working for many years in social care helping families make the right dietary and health choices, she turned her attention to freelance writing and now divides her time between penning articles and looking after the health of her own family!

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