Swap the milk and uncork the bottle to help your bones. Drink to your health. Yes, that’s right… It’s okay to have a glass. Or even two.
Research from Oregon State University shows that drinking one or two alcoholic beverages…mainly wine…may improve bone health.
Past studies have shown wine to benefit your heart. Now, Urzula Iwaniec, the OSU study’s lead researcher, is convinced that raising your glass may prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.1
“This study clearly demonstrates that even small amounts of alcohol have potent actions and can rapidly impact bone metabolism,” Iwaniec said in the journal Menopause.
Bone cells constantly regenerate. Mature bone tissue is removed and new bone tissue is formed to take its place. This process is called remodeling. And it happens throughout your life.
But as you age, your ability to grow new bone cells slows down. This is especially true for postmenopausal women. Because estrogen is a key hormone for bone strength,2 as women produce less estrogen, the risk of brittle bones increases.
Iwaniec and her team followed 40 women. Their average age was 56. They were not on any hormone replacements. The women were moderate drinkers, reporting that they drank one or two drinks per day, several times a week.
During the study the women stopped drinking for two weeks. Researchers then performed blood tests. The results showed an increase in bone turnover (when bone is lost and replaced). This put the women at greater risk for brittle bone-related fractures.
Less than a day after the women resumed drinking, researchers drew more blood. The results astonished them…
Once the women started drinking again, the markers of bone turnover returned to the levels they were before the study.
Even Iwaniec was shocked. “After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected,” she said.
But how is that possible?
The researchers suggest that the alcohol acts like estrogen in reducing bone turnover.3
This study did not specify what “alcohol” the women were drinking. But it was most likely red wine. In addition to the alcohol, with red wine you also get a shot of the plant compound resveratrol.
Researchers at Northwestern University conducted a study to see how resveratrol mimics estrogen.4 They showed that it activated the expression of both artificial and natural estrogen-regulated genes in cultured human cells.
Going a study further…
At the University of Strasbourg in France, researchers wanted to test how resveratrol might help astronauts in space.5 Prolonged weightlessness can cause muscle and bone tissue to deteriorate. The same thing can happen when we are sedentary.
The team studied the effects of the compound on rats. All of the rats were treated with resveratrol for 45 days. During the last two weeks, the researchers suspended half of the rats in a way that simulated weightlessness. They allowed the other half to move freely.
Follow up tests showed that the resveratrol helped to reduce muscle loss and improve bone density in the rats.6
According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly half of U.S. women will experience a fracture related to bone loss.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is a leading doctor for women. She said the OSU study offers much hope, especially following the recent controversy against taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent weak bones.
“I do not recommend taking a calcium supplement,” she said. “But I do recommend a healthy diet that is high in nutrients and calcium and also weight-bearing exercises.” Dr. Steinbaum also recommends one to two glasses of wine a day.
Of course, the original researchers warn against excess.
“Excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to bone health,” said Iwaniec. “But in this moderate range, it is beneficial.”
So, what should you drink if you choose to have alcohol?
Your best bet is red wine. Grape skins are a rich source of resveratrol. But in white wine the skins are removed before these rich compounds are released. Interestingly, pinot noirs generally have the highest levels of resveratrol.7
Whenever possible, choose an organic wine. Grapes are one of the crops most heavily contaminated by pesticides. And wine concentrates whatever is on or in those grapes.
If you want to protect your bones, eat a nutrient-dense whole foods diet. Frequently engage in weight bearing exercise. And when it’s time to relax, raise a glass of red wine and toast to strong bones.
Editor’s Note: Bone loss is just one more thing we have to worry about as we get older. But recent studies show that the symptoms of aging are just like any others. They can be treated or eliminated. Go here to discover specific ways you can stop the clock – and even turn it back.
Research shows that drinking one or two alcoholic beverages…mainly wine…may improve bone health. Click to Tweet
Roughly half of U.S. women will experience a fracture related to bone loss. Click to Tweet
Resveratrol is an antioxidant shown to fight heart disease and slow down the effects of aging. Click to Tweet