- September 1, 2007 · 1:16 pm
- Commentary, Health
Wine Health Redux
I’m now going to dive into the deep, unexplored pool of knowledge concerning alcohol, the simple two carbon molecule, and its effects on the human body. Many studies have shown that longevity is positively affected by those who have alcohol as part of their diets, the actuaries know this as well, alcohol usage is a checkbox on every insurance application. But, the studies always indicate moderation as far as intake, several ounces is the benchmark. As I delve into the subject, I find that the facts are clear, the actuarially studies indicate at least a 16% increase in longevity in those who imbibe several ounces of alcohol daily. Read carefully, the word is alcohol regardless of form, and again moderation the key. We then know that the French Paradox is true, the French with a very high but trans fat free diet have a much lower incidence of heart disease. And for whatever reason also have some semblance of reasonable portion size. So, begging the question, wherein lies the beneficial effect, an as of yet unknown chemical effect of wine, which we’ve discussed, or the simple effect of alcohol? In my research, there appears to be a lack of dietary scientific research involving one of alcohol’s simplest characteristics, solubility. We all know from our organic chemistry experience in college, that alcohol being a small two carbon chain alcohol with little dissociative properties, i.g. minimal H+ presence and a modest acidic factor, is soluble in almost all organic compounds and insoluble in water, H2O or HOH a poorly dissociated alcohol, based compounds. Plasma of the the blood is more like that of a water based substance with proteins and fat compounds in triglycerides floating around, hence it has to assimilate all that is thrown, read eaten, it’s way. The actuaries also tell us that beyond moderation, we’ll discuss that definition later, the longevity rate decreases by about the same 16% rate. I would argue that once a given blood level is reached and then exceeded, the ability of the body to neutralize alcohol via the alcohol reductase cycle is overwhelmed and that alcohol starts a destructive process, and we know that to be cirrhosis of the liver.
As a freshman medical student in the anatomy lab, I was just a stupid 21 year old Hoosier, but I could walk by the dissection tables and distinguish several things about each cadaver by observation alone, whether the deceased was a smoker or a heavy drinker. The smokers of Cleveland had a gray, black speckled lung appearance, and Cleveland’s best drinkers also had either an acutely swollen liver or a shrivelled, scarred liver. Blood studies in heavy drinkers have a larger triglyceride level in general, the significance of that is unknown, but it indicates that the precursor to fat storage is increased. What have I observed? Well, there are many variables in our discussion and that science has not yet given us the final answer. Unlike the CO2 and global warming debate which also lacks scientific verification, I will speculate that the solubility factor allows the body to neutralize the effect of direct fat storage and the breakdown of unsaturated and most importantly, saturated fat. Moderation is the key, and one can easily rationalize that daily volume. William Wilson of Wine for Newbies.org, feels that that is approximately up to 1/2 bottle of wine per day for men, perhaps less for women. My advice to all is, not to get blasted, but enjoy and know your limits. Easier said than done is the bottom line, so, raise a glass or two or even three of your favorite adult grape beverage.
I would also like to discuss the organic chemistry of two carbon chains. Ethyl or grain alcohol, as found in wine and other distilled and fermented beverages was discussed above, its composition is C2H5O, while acetone is C2H4O, the difference is what is called a double bond on the oxygen and obviously acetone has one less Hydrogen atom; it has a much lower boiling point a much higher solubility coefficient. But, one is toxic and fatal in small amounts, while the other is also but requires a much greater volume and sadly, binge drinking is associated with a moderate morbidity and mortality rate. Wood alcohol is the one carbon alcohol, CH4O, and propylence alcohol, the main ingredient in Windex and rubbing alcohol is the three carbon alcohol, C3H8O. Both are fatal in small amounts, even lesser amounts can cause serious organ malfunctions, and as an ophthalmologist in training I observed many skidrow alcoholics blind from ingestion of wood alcohol. The obvious fact from this message is moderation. Given a y axis of mortality rates and an x axis of ethanol consumption, the plotted graph looks like the Nike squish logo, as the consumption increases from zero, the mortality decreases but quickly increases with over consumption. The adage, “less is better” again holds true. Benjamin Franklin was indeed a wise and scientific sage, “Beer [and the fermentation process] is living proof that God loves us.”
Vin bella, ciao!