Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rethinking Drinking

Some of my readers may not know that I have been a regular contributor to Walla Walla Lifestyles, a magazine about the valley's people, wine and food. It is distributed 11 times a year through subscription with the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. The following article is from the September 2011 issue.

Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, because the last time I wrote an article about the benefits of wine for the health edition of this magazine, I received the very first hate mail of my very short writing career of seven years. But here I am, revisiting the subject.”

It was pointed out to me by a reader that, for health benefits, it was better to eat fresh grapes than it was to drink wine. My critic claimed that I was just looking for an excuse to drink alcohol, that my use of exclamation marks suggested I was overly excited about alcohol, that I was going to turn into an alcoholic, and that my professional moniker (Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman) suggested I was evil and literally “wild.”

It was implied that I probably wouldn’t substitute wine for fresh grapes if it meant I would have to leave the social wine “scene.” Further, my critic suggested that even though it was my doctor who had recommended a glass of wine a day, I would not have gotten nearly as excited about this “prescription” if he had told me to eat a handful of grapes a day, instead.

Also, I was informed that Jesus did not turn water into actual “alcoholic” wine (it was just grape juice), and there were several examples proved by my critic — and biblical quotes included on behalf of Christianity — to support these rather harsh judgments of me.

I know that in my lifetime I will never change someone’s closely held belief that drinking alcohol is evil, nor do I want to suggest that people turn toward alcohol for any health benefits, especially if they have already abstained from alcohol for most of their adult lives.

However, I am asking that we educate ourselves and lose the judgments against those who do enjoy a glass of wine. The stereotype that all people who drink wine are “winos” and drunks is absurd. All in moderation, and seriously — this is the key —moderation with everything.

Drinking an excess of any alcohol is definitely “evil” (if we must use the word) if it means it is interfering with your leading a productive and (mentally and physically) healthy life, but so is prescription drug abuse. This form of substance abuse is growing, especially among our youth. Perhaps the naysayer’s focus is on alcohol and not prescription drugs because there are no biblical passages specifically regarding “prescription drugs.” Besides, drugs are prescribed by the doctor. It’s okay to pop that extra pill, right?

I am not a doctor, but I wish I could play one on TV. And speaking of TV, have you seen the onslaught of commercials for prescription drugs? These commercials always include visuals of healthy-looking people laughing and taking walks on the beach, and the sun is always shining while the announcer in the background is reeling off warnings about, and all the possible side effects of these drugs. “Don’t drive, don’t take with milk, avoid sunshine (especially if you are a vampire). Do not take if you have kidney problems, liver problems, hang nails and freckles. If you notice symptoms such as shortness of breath, bleeding out your ears or growing a third eye, hang in there and don’t stop taking the drug until you communicate with your doctor at your next quarterly appointment …” I’ve never heard these kinds of FDA warnings on commercials about wine.

Alcohol, especially wine, has been used medicinally throughout recorded history; its medicinal properties are mentioned over 100 times in the Old and New Testaments. As early as the turn of the century, there was evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with a decrease in the risk of heart attack. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol consumption may not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but might reduce your risk of strokes, gallstones and diabetes.

However, it is important to understand that alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks, and the addition of eating a healthy diet and exercising is an advantage.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends (if you choose to drink alcohol) up to one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. Examples of one drink include: beer, 12 fluid ounces, wine, 5 fluid ounces; and distilled spirits (80 proof), 1.5 fluid ounces.

As Oprah Winfrey used to say after airing a controversial view point or show, “Don’t y’all be sending me any hate mail now.”

Once again, I am not advocating that everyone should stop all prescription drugs or pound down a double margarita with a six-pack beer chaser every night. However, it is also important to note that you can drink all the fresh grape juice you want, but it won’t necessarily make you wise and emotionally and spiritually healthy, either.

I always try to find the positive when faced with any negative, and there was one thing I did learn from the hate mail: Fresh grapes are wonderful and healthy! I especially enjoy them with a wedge of cheese and a glass of wine.

To your health, “physical, mental and spiritual.” May your grapes never be sour.

3 comments:

NHwineman said...

Catie, wow, what a wonderful essay!
I just started drinking wine two years ago (I'm now 61), and as a Christian, found this to be very unpopular, but I don't drink to get drunk, and most often just have a glass or two with my supper; I don't talk much about it with "The Brethren", but I found your essay covering all the territory I've rehashed over and over.
You are reasonable and generous, something we Christians should know more of.
Also, I would like to link your essay to my blog if that's okay?
Sincerely,
Dennis Tsiorbas

Catie said...

Hi Dennis,
Thank you for the very kind words. Absolutely, you are welcome to link this article to your blog. Also, if you would like to exchange blog links,let me know. Best Wishes,
C~

starchim01 said...

Hello.No more drinking for three years.You can drink if you're moderate.I am not.