If you’re feeling guilty about the glass of wine you like to enjoy every night with your dinner: Don’t. A scientific study says it’s A-Okay to indulge in some booze on a daily basis and may in fact be key to keeping you in good mental health.
The BMC Medicine study found that folks over 55 who drink a little bit of alcohol every day (about a glass, and usually consisting of wine) are less likely to be clinically depressed than those who drink more than that, and those who don’t drink at all. The study followed 5,000 men and women in Spain over the course of seven years, periodically checking up with them on their lifestyle habits through questionnaires and medical check-ups. Though none of the study participants suffered from depression or alcohol abuse disorders at the beginning of the study, by the end of the study about 443 people had developed clinical depression.
The group with the lowest risk of developing depression, even after controlling for other factors such as smoking, diet, marital status, and physical activity level? The low-to-moderate drinkers group — those who had between two and seven glasses of wine a week. The next lowest risk group were the moderate drinkers, and the few heavy drinkers in the study appeared to have an increased risk for depression, though there were too few to say for sure.
According to Forbes, one possible reason for the results may be that depression, like coronary heart disease, has been found to be linked to inflammation, which a certain antioxidant in wine protects the body from. So, in the same way that a daily glass of wine can be good for your heart, it may also be good for your head.
Another possibility includes the social factors tied to moderate drinking — the people enjoying a glass or two of wine are likely doing so amongst friends and family, and not bingeing alone at home, which would suggest a healthy lifestyle leading to a more fulfilling life in general. Moreover, it is also possible that those people at risk for depression are predisposed to drink more, so it may be that alcoholism isn’t what causes depression, but rather the other way around.
Whatever the case may be, it’s a fairly safe bet that moderating your alcohol intake is generally good for your health. And, as long as you’re consuming safely, we see no reason to deprive yourself of all of the benefits wine has to offer.
So go ahead and relax with a glass of wine — why try to fight the science on this one?
[Pic via Flickr - Jesse CourteManche]