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What you need to know about alcohol on the eve of the New Year’s feast. Genetic Professor Says

What you need to know about alcohol on the eve of the New Year’s feast. Genetic Professor Says

Healthy lifestyle

What you need to know about alcohol on the eve of the New Year’s feast. Genetic Professor Says

26 December 2020

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New Year is coming soon – a holiday that is strongly associated with alcoholic beverages. Information about the benefits of alcohol varies: some limit its consumption to 150 milliliters of red wine per day, some say that it is worth eliminating alcohol from the diet altogether. In the book Myths About Diet, geneticist professor Tim Spector examines this issue from a scientific point of view.

Pleasure and genes

Several key enzymes are responsible for our ability to enjoy alcohol. Their level differs significantly from person to person in different countries.

Everyone knows about the “intolerance” of Asians to strong drinks. The reason is a variation of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene. It speeds up the absorption of alcohol by 50 times compared to Europeans and Africans who do not have this variation.

According to one of the versions, the American West was conquered only by mutation of genes – the “fire water of the pale-faced” caused the death of many Indians who migrated from Asia.

According to the hypothesis accepted in our time, genetic adaptation began with the era of cultivation of the land, and changes in the amylase gene influenced the way starch is absorbed. With the help of alcohol dehydrogenase, alcohol in our body is converted into acetaldehyde, which causes all the unpleasant side effects like redness, headaches, amnesia and loss of control.

Scientific base

Studies involving large cohorts of people around the world have shown that there is a link between reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and moderate alcohol consumption (as opposed to completely avoiding alcohol).

A source

Maximum protection against heart attacks and mortality was observed with less than 1 serving of alcohol daily, which is the equivalent of a small glass of wine.

However, it is not entirely clear from the results of these studies whether the beneficial effects of alcohol are limited to red wine. Several studies claim that other types of alcohol have the same effect, including beer.

Red wine and polyphenols

The special properties of red wine are most likely associated with polyphenols – chemical compounds that contain from 10 to 99 various useful substances, including a subgroup of flavonoids.


Of all types of alcohol, red wine (when consumed in moderation!) Has the greatest benefits. A source

In one study carried out in Spain, it succeeded in obtaining permission from the ethics commission and found ten enthusiastic volunteers who were ready to drink alcohol regularly. For more than three months, they were tested on three types of drinks: the daily norm was two glasses of regular red wine, two low-alcohol (0.4% alcohol) and two servings of gin.

It turned out that all types of alcohol contributed to the growth of microbial diversity, which Tim Spector believes is always beneficial.

In two groups of participants who drank wine (not gin), positive changes were observed in some of the main types of microbes. Particularly strong changes were noted in bifidobacteria, as well as in Prevotella, which lower lipids and attenuate inflammation.

Based on the results of this experiment, it can be assumed that it is the polyphenols contained in wine, and not alcohol, that have the greatest effect on our health.

Based on the book “Myths about diets”

Cover photo from here

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