Your respiratory therapist has probably warned you against heavy drinking if you have COPD or other heart or lung ailments. Alcohol is known to impair lung function and decrease the ability to discharge mucus from bronchial tubes. Some COPD medications including steroids and antibiotics are hampered by alcohol while taking certain pain medications can also alter breathing and slow the heart rate to dangerous levels and may even be fatal. Drinking any amount of alcohol should be discussed with your physician but studies have shown that raising an occasional glass of bubbly or having a little wine with dinner might actually have some health benefits.
First, a word about the difference between wine and champagne. The most basic difference is that regular wine is not “sparkling”, or carbonated. In order to properly be considered champagne though, it must be made with grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, otherwise it’s just a sparkling wine.
The benefits of red wine on your heart have been much talked about over the past several years, much to the delight of wine enthusiasts everywhere. Champagne, despite its golden coloring, is largely made from these same red grapes. Studies show that these grapes contain high levels of polyphenols which are plant chemicals with antioxidant properties which help lower blood pressure, block the negative effects of free radicals, protect blood vessels, and prevent blood clots. Moderate amounts of alcohol in general can raise good cholesterol by as much as 10 percent but, in addition, red grapes can also lower levels of bad cholesterol as well. Champagne or sparkling wine also has about 10% fewer calories and less sugar than wine so it’s a little easier on your waistline.
While red wine seems to be of most benefit to the heart, it has been found that white wine is especially healthy for the lungs. White grapes are said to have the highest concentration of flavonoids which are known for their antioxidant benefits but are also especially beneficial to the lungs. Properties in these nutrients soak up toxins in the blood which reduces airway inflammation, a great benefit for those suffering from COPD.
I feel like I should mention here that plain old grape juice offers many of the same benefits but that’s no fun! Raise a guilt free glass of bubbly or vino to ring in 2016 with proper fanfare! All things in moderation, my friends. Cheers!