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Posted: Sunday, 28 June 2020 12:54

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Wine and Health: US Federal Panel to recommend One-Glass-a Day Wine

June 28: In the once-in-a century drama being enacted by Mother Nature, Coronavirus is only the major villain surrounded by several less intimidating events like the earthquakes and the locust swarm that has hit India, the recent news that the influential federal panel has recommended men reduce their alcohol intake to one drink per day rather than two, should be an easy shock to bear, writes Subhash Arora

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee formed inn 1980, provides expert scientific advice once every five years. Currently, the recommended limit for alcohol use in the US is limited to two drinks a day for men, and one for women; one drink is equivalent of 125 mL wine at 12.5% abv (alcohol by volume). The new draft report suggests one drink daily for both sexes. It claims that the current limit has a modest but meaningful increase in deaths due to alcohol. This notable departure from the past has surprised many who felt that President Trump is more industry friendly and one could expect a more liberal guideline.  

The final scientific advisory report is expected to be publicly released in mid-July. The panel of outside experts does not write the guidelines but reviews the latest in science and advises the government on what they should recommend. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are expected to be updated by the end of this year.

The fresh advice from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which meets up every five years, is significantly different from what has been recommended in the decades since the 1980s.

A Canadian study recently published recently in the Journal of Alcohol and Drugs found that people whose drinking is in in line with the current guidelines, are still at risk of developing severe alcohol-related health problems. The study noted that 50% of cancer deaths resulting from alcohol use in British Columbia occurred among moderate drinkers.

A report in Global News says that currently, men are recommended up to 3 glasses of alcohol a day and women 2. The recent Study by Adam Sherk, a post-doctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, and lead author of the study has recommended the change-to fall in line with the US Guidelines as in the draft report.

A study by South Korean scientists a few months ago had found that one glass of wine a day is worse for the heart than binge drinking. That makes it incredulous, since binge drinking- a popular pastime in Korea, has proven to be more dangerous and can even prove to be fatal, according to many earlier population studies. Frequent but minimal drinkers are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat, according to a report in New York Post.

More than half the members of the panel considering changes to the nation’s blueprint for healthy eating have ties to the food industry. Since it was convened late last year, the committee has been criticized for having too many connections to food and beverage companies and being hamstrung by the Trump administration. But the recommendations look similar to those during the Obama administration, except they delve deeper into alcohol.

The advisory panel’s conclusion on alcohol would be a significant change from the government’s long-standing advice. Currently, the dietary guidelines recommend that if people drink, they should do so in moderation, defined as two drinks per day for men and one for women.

The recommendation is likely to be the subject of debate in the coming weeks, as there is some disagreement among scientists about whether the definition of moderate drinking needs to be tightened.

Subhash Arora

The draft proposal seems to have totally overlooked the health benefits of Mediterranean diet which included up to two glasses of wine a day, preferably with food. It does not list or consider health benefits of wine and the effect it has on metabolism. While taking the report with a pinch of salt, we stick to our decade old recommendation of up to two glasses of wine, preferably with food and preferably red for men and one glass a day for women- for 5-6 days a week. Binge drinking is particularly harmful and strongly discouraged. Drink less but drink better- to enjoy your food and remember wine is a food and lifestyle product- editor

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