Can Red Wine Reduce Swine Flu Risk?
My mother is an alarmist. She’s always been that way. Remember the children’s story (and movie) about Chicken Little? “The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!” It could have been written about my mother.
Growing up this way made me a bit of a skeptic and more of an “anti-alarmist.” When everyone around me starts freaking out, I tend to roll my eyes and sigh like Al Gore.
The current frenzy over “swine flu” is really getting on my last nerve – especially with the reporting of half-truths and tabloid-like speculation by the media. And the daily phone calls from the school districts ensuring us that “all is well!” while simultaneously cancelling all academic and athletic events.
I remember a similar scare in 1976. One of my mother’s friends rushed down to get the vaccine and she ended up with an acute allergy to chicken. Even a hint of chicken broth (in many a restaurant dish) can provoke a horrible allergic reaction to the point that she can’t breathe. And upon at least one occasion, that I know of, she lost consciousness on an airplane — back when the airlines actually served real food.
So imagine my delight when I found a Wine Spectator article from September 11, 2008 entitled, “Red Wine Chemical Cuts Flu Risk.”
A new scientific study offers good news for both athletes and wine fans. Researchers at the University of South Carolina say a chemical found abundantly in red wine, apples and onions helps protect against influenza, especially after a rigorous respiratory workout when the body is more susceptible to infection.
The chemical, quercetin, is a known anti-inflammatory found in the skins of fruit and vegetables. Prior studies have theorized that it helps reduce lung inflammation and inhibits the growth of prostate cancer.
According to the new study, published in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, strenuous exercise is widely believed to increase susceptibility to the flu, due to the stress that a high level of activity places on the body. Researchers at the university’s department of exercise science, which focuses on the alleviation of exercise-related ailments, wanted to see if exercise increased the chances of catching the flu and if quercetin could reduce those chances.
According to J. Mark Davis, director of the exercise biochemistry lab and study lead author, “quercetin was used because of its documented widespread health benefits, which include antiviral activity, abundance in the diet and reported lack of side effects when used as a dietary supplement or food additive.”
For those of you who enjoy reading research publications, the abstract is available on-line at the AJP – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.
So while the rest of the nation is hiding behind surgical masks as their blood pressure soars from the stress, I think I’ll try something more sensible:
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Take Vitamin C supplements and
- a glass of Red Wine every day to keep the doctor away!