The heart-healthy benefits of wine have been well documented. Grapes have heart protective properties that come from their skin, flesh, and seeds.
The Mayo clinic lets us know that certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protecting against artery damage.
These antioxidants found in wine are called polyphenols. Grapes make polyphenols to protect against fungi, bacteria, frost, and other harsh growing conditions (side note: fruit sprayed with pesticides have no need to ward off pests, and they produce fewer polyphenols so going organic is super important!).
When you drink wine, those polyphenols protect you in a similar way. They neutralize damaging free radicals that stress your cells. Natural wines – those without chemicals or additives – have a diverse variety of polyphenols, including Resveratrol (lowers inflammation), Procyanidins (strong antioxidants), Ellagic acid (helps regulate blood sugar), and much more.
Plus you'll live longer and reduce your risk of dementia than those consuming other kinds of alcohol regularly! According to a 2007 study out of Finland, “wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers”.
Nearly every Blue Zone – a region with the longest living people – has moderate alcohol consumption as part of its culture. The wine they drink, however, is not commercial wine; it's natural wine.
Surprisingly, there are also benefits to your gut microbiome. Natural wine is a living product, which means it's rich with precious bacteria and compounds that enhance your microbiome. Probiotic bacteria are present in natural, unfiltered wine. These bacteria can protect your gut from pathogens, which decreases inflammation. And, believe it or not, can have similar beneficial probiotic benefits as fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, although by no means do I suggest that drinking is how you get your probiotics. Please still eat your ferments as any more than light to moderate drinking, can have the opposite effect, killing off your precious good bacteria.
Everything in moderation is a wonderful health mantra. Please keep your drinking to 3-5 drinks per week (and do not start if you don't already drink – there are other ways to get these same health benefits).
Drinking any more than will begin to tip the scale to thinning the gut lining, disrupting the microbiome, and causing inflammation and high LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).
The Problems with Most Wine – And Why You Need to Go Natural
The type of wine I'm talking about cannot (yet) be ordered in a restaurant. Much of the wine produced in the US from grapes grown here contains glyphosate. Glyphosate is also known by its brand name, Roundup, and because US soil is so contaminated, it was found in almost every US wine that was tested, even organic ones, which have sent us running to Europe and other parts of the world in effort to source cleaner wine.
Those of us who experience headaches, brain fog, or other negative effects from wine thinking it's a hangover may be reacting to the additives and not the wine itself.
There are dozens of approved additives for wine, yet you may not want to drink some of them. Vintners can add these without disclosing it on the label.
Excerpt below from wellnessmama.com
Common Wines May Contain a Host of These Additives, Including:
Mega Purple & Ultra Red – You probably think the dark red/purple color is natural, right? Not so fast! Manufacturers can add these super-concentrated coloring agents to change the color. According to Abel James, manufacturers add 10,000 gallons of this stuff to an estimated 25 million bottles a year! And it isn't just for color. These additives add sweetness (and sugar) as well. If you react to food dyes like most people, this could be the reason you don't do well with wine.
Sawdust – Another flavor hack. Some manufacturers add sawdust or wood chips to the process. This provides tannins and the flavor of an oak barrel at a lower price.
Commercial Yeasts – These may be the real culprits of a wine headache, especially for those who have histamine issues. Many manufacturers add commercial yeasts to speed up the fermentation. Many of these commercial yeasts are GMO. The best wines use only natural wild yeasts.
Sulphur – A somewhat controversial ingredient that is added as a stabilizer. It can also kill unwanted bacteria and wild yeasts. This is one additive that manufacturers must disclose since a small fraction of people are highly sensitive to sulfur.
Sugar – Typically added during the fermentation process. It doesn't make the wine sweeter like Mega Purple and Ultra Red, but it does speed fermentation and increase the alcohol content. Natural wines without added sugar are typically lower alcohol for this reason.
Pesticides and Herbicides – Most non-organic wines contain traces of pesticides and herbicides. Roundup is the most used herbicide in US vineyards.
Where to Source High-Quality Wine Without Additives & How to Avoid Wine Additives
The glyphosate issue (after testing several clients urine and wondering where this came from when I knew they were eating an organic, GMO-free diet) had me stumped as where to send them beyond just organic wine. I then met Todd White, Founder of Dry Farm Wines at a conference earlier this year.
He was the most passionate wine person I've ever met and was bragging about how he drinks the cleanest wine in the world almost daily and has also been able to maintain ketosis while doing it.
He was so aware of all the additives and problems in conventional wine and out of equal parts frustration and love of wine, he went out and sourced the cleanest, independently lab-test wines in Europe and then founded Dry Farm Wines, a natural wine club to share them with others.
Sugar in wine was a big problem for someone like Todd who lives in ketosis (his body uses fat instead of sugar for fuel so drinking regular wine would tip him out of that balance and back into sugar-burning mode).
All of the Dry Farm Wines he uses are dry farmed, meaning they starve the grapes of water to create a very low sugar content.
These Natural Wines Are:
Organic or biodynamically grown from small family vintners. This means no added pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or other harmful chemicals, even though the use of chemicals has grown 26x (2600%) in the last 50 years. Monsanto's Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in US vineyards today, and it's been linked to numerous cancer cases worldwide. Organic farms are healthy and sustainable for the soil, the diversity of life in the vineyard, and ultimately for us.
Dry Farmed. Dry farmed vines get their water from natural rainfall. Irrigated vines are dripped water from tubes tied to the plants. Dry farmed plants have roots that grow up to 50 feet deeper than irrigated plants, meaning they absorb more nutrients from deep within the soil. Dry farming also saves 16,000 gallons of water per acre.
Made without artificial additives. The FDA approves 76 different additives for use in winemaking. These include things like metals, toxic chemicals, added sugars, fish bladders, and more. Natural Wines have none of them.
Sustainable. All natural wines come from sustainable winemakers whose practices return nutrients and bacteria to the soil. These wines reflect nature's logic and design; they enrich the natural world instead of destroying it. Sustainable winemaking means lower yields and a longer growing and aging process; the exquisite end result is worth the patience.
No sugar or carbs. Some modern wines have more sugar than a liter of cola! All Dry Farm Wines have less than 1 g/L (statistically sugar-free). We celebrate wine as part of a Paleo or Keto (Low Carb) lifestyle that's optimal for health.
Low alcohol. Alcohol is toxic. So are water and oxygen in the wrong dose. Dosage matters. Even though alcohol content in wine has been rising on average (currently around 14%), they only accept wines with less than 12.5% alcohol. Lower alcohol wines have a more elegant taste, pair better with food, and let you experience the benefits of wine (improved heart health and lower insulin response) without the adverse effects of a higher dose.
Low in sulfites. While all wines contain some naturally occurring sulfites, Dry Farm wines are all lab tested to ensure levels below 75 ppm (the US standard is 350 ppm). Sulfites kill bacteria to stabilize the wine. The lower the sulfites, the more alive a wine remains. You can see the difference under a microscope – low-sulfite wine is vibrant with a diverse spectrum of wild bacteria and yeast.
Curated taste. Some natural wines are funky. Because the Dry Farm folks are fanatical about taste, they only accept wines that are clean, elegant, vibrant, and delicious expressions of what natural wine should be. Of all the wines they taste, only about 30% pass both their taste and lab testing.
Fine wines from around the world. As the largest buyer and reseller of Natural Wines in the world, they have access to the finest wines from all the incredibly diverse winemaking regions across the globe, from France to South Africa. Plus, they are uniquely capable of shipping these wines across the country.
Dry Farmed Wines: A Better Option
So after that fateful day in March when I had my first Dry Farm Chardonnay in the mountains of Utah, and it actually tasted great, I was hooked. I would not go back to regular wine except on rare occasion when out with friends and anything else is unavailable. The reds are great and come in all varieties, and the Rose and champagne were staples at my summer dinner parties.
Todd claims that they are “hangover free.” I don't drink much but I can say that after two glasses of Dry farmed wine, I still sleep great and feel completely fine the next day and not even dehydrated.
As with all top quality products, they are more expensive because it takes a village to hunt them down and independently test them so that you actually know and trust what you're consuming.
Dry Farmed Wines are more expensive than conventional wines at local stores, but our philosophy at The Whole Journey has always been quality over quantity.
If you want to be the judge and try this wine for yourself, head on over here where you'll be able to add an extra bottle of wine to your first order for just a penny!
I think I know what I'm getting everyone for Christmas this year!
P.S. – I would like to add a caveat about drinking in pregnancy (and not just because I announce my pregnancy in this segment, but because it's crucial for all pregnant mamas out there to know). Please, please, please do not drink at all while pregnant, not even one drink your entire pregnancy.
I am in the throws of new research that I will share with you soon about how even very light drinking in pregnancy (1-2 drinks a week in the second and third trimester) can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum (FAS) disorder (different than fetal alcohol syndrome that heavy drinking can cause). Five out of 100 babies born today have this completely avoidable disorder and yet are misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD or another behavioral or learning disability.