WORLD OF WINE: What does moderate wine consumption mean as we age?

Would “two glasses of red wine with dinner, three or four beers after, followed by two shots of vodka” every day for decades be considered moderation? Not according to the physician giving an 83-year-old patient his physical.

Moderation means to have enough wine to enjoy with company of family or friends. Drinking wine to solve problems will not work any better than drinking water or milk will. Ask yourself then, why is it you drink wine?

I drink wine for enjoyment with other people I like or love. It makes me a better person socially, and in the long run, psychologically. As I’ve gotten older, along with my regular, moderate consumption of wine, I find that I notice more of life’s pleasurable details than ever before.

According to a recent study carried out by Dr. Erik Skovenborg of The Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board there are a many factors that enter into the definition of moderate consumption of alcohol, especially as one ages.

Aging alone brings about a progressive and irreversible change in our bodies, which can result in a growing risk of chronic diseases that can impact our functioning both physically and cognitively.

Aging in a healthy way is tied in with the absence of smoking, a decent income level, and the absence or control of typical aging factors like arthritis, back pain, hypertension, and normal weight maintenance.

One very salient factor the study made clear: Physiologic aging does not parallel chronologic aging.

Frailty is a term that cannot be applied to all older people. Clinical testing must be made on an individual basis to identify these individuals who are decreasing in number in the elderly population about alcohol consumption.

This leads to a commonsense, case-by-case approach for people with particular medical conditions that should be applied when it comes to alcohol consumption.

As with any medical advice, there is a risk-benefit ratio to be considered.

Moderate drinking should be framed around other healthy lifestyles such as diet, exercise and smoking cessation. Other factors such as cancer risk, peptic ulcers and liver problems should be discussed with your doctor as to whether or not you should continue drinking any alcohol, including wine.

Most people who want to improve or continue along healthful lifestyles need to consider alcohol as one aspect in making any decisions. Essentially, no one drinks just for their health, but for social and psychological reasons, since moderate amounts of alcohol are mood modifiers, a relaxant and a social lubricant.

Choosing to drink for medical benefits only is not a good choice to make. I have friends who have never touched alcohol and don’t intend to for many personal reasons. If you drink wine, do it in moderation for the pleasure it allows you to share with others.

Ron Smith, a retired NDSU Extension horticulturist, writes

weekly about his love of wine. Reach him at tuftruck1@gmail.com.


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