Is wine good for the flu, common cold, or sore throat?

Drinking a glass of red wine a day can reduce the chances of catching the flu or a cold. Resveratrol and other polyphenols in red wine have potent antiviral properties, while low doses of alcohol prevents the replication of many viruses, which cause the flu and the common cold.

Drinking red wine may lower the risk of common cold

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, caused by hundreds of different viruses. Common symptoms of the flu and the common cold are fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue.[1] 

Drinking a glass of red wine a day seems to be beneficial for preventing a cold. According to studies, red wine intake may have a protective effect against the common cold. White wine, beer, spirits, or other alcoholic beverages don’t seem to affect the incidence of common cold, though.[2]

Red wine is rich in polyphenols, which have potent antioxidant properties. These compounds may lower the risk of common cold.

Additionally, wine’s phytochemicals promote weight loss.

Furthermore, red wine and grape juice can inactivate various viruses! Actually, red wine has antiviral effects. On the contrary, white wine can’t inactivate viruses as effectively.[3]

Is alcohol in wine beneficial for a cold?

Red wine reduces the risk of common cold, mainly due to its superior antioxidant and the anti-inflammatory capacity of polyphenols. But, alcohol may play a role as well.

Actually, according to studies, alcohol itself may have a beneficial effect on reducing the incidence of common cold. It seems that people who regularly drink low doses of alcoholic beverages have a significantly lower risk of having a common cold.[4]

In fact, airway temperature may be one of the key factors for the survival and replication of viruses that cause the common cold.

Alcohol intake increases airway blood flow and temperature. Higher body temperatures prevent the replication of many viruses that cause common cold. For instance, rhinoviruses, which cause most colds, replicate best at temperatures lower than 33 °C. On the contrary, they get attenuated at temperatures higher than 37 °C.

The average temperature in the upper respiratory tract is 32 °C.

First, alcohol increases airway temperature, as it stimulates nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator. Alcohol intake increases blood nitric oxide concentrations for several hours.

Also, alcohol increases airway temperature because it increases the blood acetaldehyde levels. This compound causes vasodilation as well. This effect lasts up to 4 hours.

Hence, daily drinking of a light dose of alcohol seems beneficial for the protection against viruses. Therefore, a glass of red wine at lunch every day may protect from upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold.

Certainly, drinking too much alcohol has negative effects on health.

How often should I drink wine for protection of the common cold?

Daily drinkers of small amounts of alcohol may be more protected from the common cold, as compared to “weekend” drinkers. Even if both consume the same amount of alcohol.

The best time to drink a glass of red wine is at lunch. Drinking alcohol before bed negatively affects sleep quality and duration.

Resveratrol in wine may protect from the flu

Red wine protects against the flu and common cold because of its high concentrations of resveratrol. Resveratrol has potent antiviral effects. For instance, resveratrol protects from several viral diseases, as it inhibits viral protein synthesis and viral related gene expressions.[5]

Does wine boost the immune system?

Certainly, excessive drinking can severely affect the immune system. High alcohol intake suppresses the immune system, and significantly increases the risk of development of many infectious diseases. It promotes the generation of free radicals during detoxification.[6,7]

On the contrary, red wine consumption doesn’t suppress the immune system, as compared to other alcoholic beverages.[8,9]

Practically, the amount of alcohol in a glass of red wine won’t negatively affect the immune system.

Actually, red wine boosts the immune system, despite its alcohol content because it greatly increases the plasma antioxidant capacity. Phytochemicals in red wine have such powerful antioxidant actions that offset the detrimental effects of alcohol on immunity.

If you want to boost your polyphenol intake, you could drink grape juice as well. Grape juice is also pretty rich in polyphenols. Additionally, grapes are good for weight loss.[10]

Can red wine relieve the symptoms of sore throat?

Furthermore, red wine has potent antimicrobial action. For instance, wine can deal with oral pathogens, such as Streptococcus pyogenes. Streptococcus pyogenes causes sore throat, which is actually inflammation of the pharynx.[11]

Should I drink a glass of red wine a day to boost the immune system?

It seems that a glass of red wine a day is good for you! But, there are many people who shouldn’t drink alcohol at all. Consult your physician before changing your diet.

Certainly, is you don’t drink, you shouldn’t start. You better start consuming more fruits and vegetables to get more health-promoting phytochemicals. It’s highly recommended eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.[12]

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