Wine and Bone Health, Oh Joy!

Today I learned that new studies show that a glass or two of wine a day builds bone, and as a small, fair female, that is important to me. I obviously have not been drinking enough wine. Many of my readers know that I spent the biggest part of my adult working life in the wine industry. I put on many, many wine tastings for individuals and groups. I worked as a sales manger for a wine brokerage, taught wait staffs, was a wine manager for Oklahoma’s largest liquor store, and I owned a wine and liquor wholesale operation. I’ve traveled much of the world’s wine areas (alas, never made it to Australia). I love wine. I’m not a wine snob, but I love good wine – not meaning expensive wine, but wine that has good fruit, good acidity, and a nice finish. So about that study (and it is a small study):

A new study shows drinking a couple glasses of wine each day boosts bone health in women going through menopause. This is an interesting contrast to previous studies which show alcohol abuse contributes to bone loss.

Menopause and bone health

As women enter menopause estrogen levels decline. This leads to a number of side effects including hot flashes, memory problems, fatigue, loss of bone density, and other physical symptoms. Some doctors recommend estrogen treatments to help prevent bone loss, but in this study published in the journal Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, the women participating were not on hormone replacement therapy.

Study shows wine boosts bone health

While the results of this study may be news to some, it isn’t a surprise in the research community. Past research including the Framingham Heart Study, have suggested moderate drinkers consistently show higher bone density when compared to heavy drinkers or people who don’t drink at all. The results of this study seem to confirm these findings.

Caution: if your GrandMom thinks Mogen David 20/20 is a good option for their bones quash that thought immediately. I had an Aunt, bless her, who was told to drink a small portion of wine every night to help her sleep. A liquor store owner near her house called me one day to tell me she was buying way too much Mogen David, which is 20% 18% alcohol – and it’s sweet – very sweet.

This study is recommending dinner wines, generally 10% – 14% alcohol. Dinner wines are generally not sweet. Wine is a food product – or hit the main drag in Napa and you’ll hear, “wine is food.” For many, many years we have known that alcohol, whether wine or a gin and tonic, dilates the arteries and unknown numbers of strokes and heart attacks have NOT happened, due to that evening drink, with or without dinner.

Drinking too much is another subject. Many people in my industry were alcoholics. They “sampled” with customers – a definite danger in the business, and they couldn’t handle it. That was and is not a problem for me. I’m grateful for it. So, while hubby and I have a glass or two (about 4 or 5 ounces each – no more) a couple of times a week (on Thursday late afternoon, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere), maybe my bones will become stronger with one drink each evening. I don’t know.

In general, we have been told that while alcohol is good for heart health, it is not good for bones, but take a look at this:

Researchers drew blood from participants at the beginning of the study so they could determine the levels of indicators related to bone turnover. Once these initial findings were recorded, participants were asked to abstain from drinking alcohol for two weeks. After the two weeks, blood samples were drawn again and findings compared. The results showed bone removal had increased.

The night following the two weeks of abstention, researchers gave the women specific amounts of alcohol to drink (based on their average intake). The following morning they returned to have their blood tested. The results showed a rapid reduction in bone turnover. Read the entire story at The Examiner.

How exciting it will be if this study is proven to be accurate. The thing is: if you cannot stop at two glasses of wine – climb back on the stairclimber, because building bone with wine isn’t a good idea for you.

A conversation about wine is never complete without some chat about who is drinking what. Hubby and I generally drink Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. Our go-to favorites both have good quality Cabernet and Chardonnay characteristics. Right now, we like Bogle Vineyards and Chateau Ste. Michelle. Bogel is a California appellation, not specifically Napa, Sonoma or Central Coast, and not one of their specific vineyards. It’s less expensive – about $11 here in Oklahoma. Chateau Ste. Michelle is a Washington State wine and while they have numerous appellations and specific vineyards, we buy the Columbia Valley. Ste. Michelle is more expensive than the Bogel, but still affordable (and so luscious), and both are admirable examples of their grape varietals.

But many evenings (beginning on Thursday – Saturday) we unscrew the cap on a bottle of Black Opal Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia) and for about $8, it is delicious (not so crazy about the Black Opal Chard). (Disclaimer: I am not an ‘affiliate’ of either winery. If you click the links to visit their sites, I receive no credit).

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  • Wow.. I need to start drinking a couple of glasses of wine a day. I was raised a Mormon.. so never drank. Years ago, when I lived in Tahoe.. one of my clients was Patricia “Pat” Hitchcock O’Connell She is the only offspring of Alfred Hitchcock. She and her husband used to ask me over for dinner all the time. They lived near me in Tahoe. It was there I was introduced to the finest wines available. Her dad’s wine cellar was amazing. He liked a wine.. he’d be sent cases of it.. just because of who he was. The best wine I ever had there was a desert wine dating back to 1957… Boy I miss eating at her house.. Joe.. her husband, died years ago.. and she moved… But good wine is amazing.

    • David, how great to have a connection to Hitchcock. Great wines are just that…great and Unforgettable! We occasionally go that route, but not often, because the economics of it just doesn’t make sense for us, but I don’t hesitate to pay well if something is known to be one of those unforgettables. Outside of that, we keep it real and when we find something we like, we buy it until the vintage is no longer available, then we have to start all over again. I DO believe wine is a food and is very healthy.

    • BTW, maybe you can tell me what size my photos should be to upload to a blog. This is one I took, reduced it until it would upload, but it’s awfully big, and my other choice was really small. Oh well, I think it’s a pretty pic:-)

      • No idea how to reduce.. Love the picture though. Did you take it?

        • David, I did take the pic. It’s in our back yard.

  • Hi Maggie … Since I’m not a drinker, I really know nothing about such things. But I do want to say I am very proud of how you presented both sides; the health advantages as well as the danger of becoming an alcoholic. This is one example where the Word of God speaks of … “all things in moderation.”

    Blessings …

    • Carl, I am and have been, very serious about the downside of alcohol, although I believe there are more upsides for most of us. I remember being on a bus at a conference when everyone in the business were men. We were in Williamsburg and it was hotter than hades. I was a big supporter of MADD. They all drank too much, and they laughed at me and my position (altho it was an affectionate laugh – but I was right). I combined my love of the product with the responsibility that I think you must have, because it can be a life or death situation – and it can happen in an instant – unlike too much sugar – but much like texting while driving:-)

  • Nolan

    Hey Maggie,
    Bogle continues to be my favorite winery in the Delta! Great wines, good prices, wonderful tasting room staff and awesome picnic grounds. My new favorite wines are the Riesling, Petite Syrah, and the Petite Syrah Port.

    • Nolan, I haven’t visited the winery yet. Petite Syrah Port sounds just luscious. I’ll look for it this Fall and we’ll try the other two you mention. We love Zinfandels, Syrah’s, Petite Syrahs and Shiraz too. I like all of the big reds. For Rieslings, I am very partial to Germany and Alsace, but summer is a great time to try a California Riesling, and we will do that. Thanks, and I appreciate your visits and comments.

  • Oh darn, I thought it was two gallons.

    • Odie, it is – just over time:-)

  • There are also quite a few studies of the impact of wine on men’s heart health and prostrate. Reveratrol (sold as a supplement by GNC, etc) is a substitute for those that have a moral objection to drinking wine.

    But if that objection is based on Christian doctrine, they might want to consider King David’s praise of the Almight by being in wonder at:

    “ that gladdens the heart of man, to make his face shine more than oil,” (Ps 104:15

    • PolitiJim, Resveratrol from the grape skins of red grapes have many healthful properties. I think taking it in a supplement might be more beneficial, because sometimes, the way in which wine grapes are grown, it is believed the resveratrol levels are lower – but then, the properties of red grape skins is a big part of the French Paradox. Europeans have lower levels of bad cholesterol and better levels of the good.

      No where does the Bible tell us wine is bad. People have to choose how they feel about it, but Biblically, there is no admonishment.

      I’ve been intending to look into the supplements. I’ll do that soon. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Maggie … I hope I’m not stepping into an area I shouldn’t, but … yes, you are right about the Bible not using the word “bad” speaking of wine. But please look at the following scriptures for yourself … they do allude to or suggest it might be. They are: Proverbs 20:1,Proverbs 23:29-32,and Leviticus 10:9 flat out says … “Do not drink wine nor strong drink …”

        Maggie, you know me well enough to know I would never judge you or others for what they believe. But you also know me well enough to know I only desire to teach the truth of God’s Word. These scriptures are in the Book, but also so is God’s love and grace. I’ll leave each of us to examine our own hearts.

        Please forgive me if I’ve said things I shouldn’t have.

        Love you …

        • Carl, I will never think you are judging me, and whatever you have to say is always welcome here, whether we are in agreement or not. Proverbs is full of wisdom and warnings. Just as scripture says “wine is a mocker and beer a brawler,” that is so when we “are led astray” by wine and beer, and when we are, it is not wise. Also, there is 19:20 – if you listen to advice and accept instruction, you will be wise. What is left unsaid is, if you do not listen to advice and accept instruction, you will not be wise. What is left unsaid in 20:1, is if you are not led astray, you are wise for not letting the wine or beer do the leading. Proverbs is full of examples of how to be wise and unwise, in my opinion.

          In 23: 20-32, the real lesson is found in what follows: Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind imagine confusing things, etc. The only way this happens is by drinking too much. Proverbs 23 is expressing how, if you let certain things into your life, you will be led astray and your troubles will multiply due to a lack of wisdom.

          I see the Leviticus scripture as God speaking to Aaron and his tribe, his sons, and impressing upon him (them) the sobering responsibility that was placed upon them, of being the tenders of the Temple and the sacredness of that place. Yes, alcohol was strictly forbidden in the Temple.

          Later in Leviticus, God tells Moses to instruct Israelites on what to do when they reenter their land. Along with the sacrifice of a lamb, there is an offering of wine.

          PolitiJim referred to Ps 104: indeed, along with God providing the grass, and food from the earth – grapes for one thing – wine that gladdens the heart of man. I don’t believe “gladdens” means “giddy.” I believe it means just what it says, it can be a delight, good for us, and we are charged with not abusing this gift.

          We don’t know for sure who wrote Ecclesiastes but we are told to drink our wine with a joyful heart, because God favors us, although we have only two destinies – the righteous and the wicked. We have to choose.

          Jesus’ first miracle was providing wine for a jubilant event, a wedding.

          Over and over the NT tells us not to drink too much wine, but it doesn’t tell us not to drink wine. We are told that “excesses” are the sinful part of many normal things.

          I’m a small person. I drink in small portions, but NEVER have I been, even slightly, tipsy, let alone drunk. It’s who I am. We are all different. I’m told I’m a “control freak,” maybe that’s so, but when it comes to alcohol, I feel the need for great responsibility.

          I wish I could say I have never eaten too many Fritos!

          These are good conversations Carl, and different churches and denominations ‘teach’ different things. When each of us personally read scripture, we read and hear and feel differing things, and we can only hope and pray that we read, hear and feel is directly from The Holy Spirit.

          • Maggie … very good Bible study. I am in total agreement with you. Paul even told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. It’s great to see that you know where to pull out scripture for your answers and what context they are used in. That’s what I love about you … you know what and why you believe what you believe. Good answers sis.

            • Carl, when I got into the business (a long story) I didn’t drink at all – not out of any conviction, just didn’t. You can’t begin to imagine the hours I spent documenting what the Bible said, because I had many concerning situations when my job was a Wine Manger. The wine tastings were no problems, but when you have to introduce yourself in Sunday School or a women’s church group and say where you work, I had to be solid in my beliefs. I wore out a Strong’s:-) I still have it in a notebook somewhere around here. I should try to resurrect it.

              If you can believe it, my first wine tasting (before I was a Wine Manager) and when I worked at a party accessory store that did not sell alcohol was for an Episcopal church. I did many for churches and we had some very serious discussions during some of those evenings.

              I love these conversations. I always learn from you and hope they will continue.

  • uhmmm.. “Almighty” not “Almight” (sorry Lord) 🙂

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