What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Glass of Wine Every Day


While you’ve probably heard that there are health benefits to drinking red wine, such as lowering cholesterol, managing diabetes, and reducing inflammation, a heavy wine habit can actually have some nasty side effects, like an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. But if “heavy” drinking leads to these side effects, what does just one glass of wine a day do?

“You don’t need to drink every day, and less is probably best,” explains Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDN, a member of our Medical Expert Board. “But if you do drink, the [current] Dietary Guidelines advise one drink a day for women and two drinks for men.”

However, consuming wine at this lower level isn’t right for everyone, and you should be aware of the potential drawbacks of even light drinking. Because although just one glass a night with dinner may not sound harmful at all, it can come with some potential health complications. Before you pour another glass, read on to discover the side effects of regularly drinking just one glass of wine each night and how they impact your overall health.

1. You might have less stress

Sure, you might have experienced the anecdotal effects of this when you wind down with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. But there is actually some research behind wine’s stress-lowering effects. A compound in red wine, called resveratrol, is responsible for a lot of wine’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Research from 2019 in the journal Neuropharmacology found that resveratrol might have anti-stress effects by blocking enzymes in the brain that lead to depression- and anxiety-like behaviors. Another review of studies found that moderate wine consumption (one glass a day for females and two glasses a day for males) was associated with a 32% lower risk of depression. 

2. Your immune system can take a hit

Daily drinking may impact your immune system and can make you more susceptible to infections, which means you might notice that you catch colds, flu, or other illnesses more frequently if you partake on a regular basis.

According to a report published in Alcohol Research, alcohol can impact the health of your gut microbiome because your GI tract is the first place alcohol goes, meaning it immediately starts to “alter the integrity” of your GI tract. For instance, alcohol naturally changes up the microbes found in your gut microbiome, which in turn actually disrupts the communication between your gut and immune system. Drinking on a consistent basis can lead to more of these challenges over time and may result in a weakened immune system.

3. Your heart might be healthier 

For decades, research has been coming out about the heart-healthy benefits of wine. The antioxidant compounds in wine can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lower risk of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke. Another review cited studies that found wine to improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels and lower risk of heart attacks.

While this might make wine sound like a miracle cure for heart disease, that’s far from the case. In fact, many of these studies also found that drinking more than the recommended limit led to worsened cardiovascular health. So if you do drink wine—or any alcohol—be sure to keep your intake light to moderate at most.  

4. It can also increase your overall cancer risk

If you think you’re in the clear because you don’t smoke tobacco but still partake in drinking alcohol, you may be disappointed to find out that light to moderate alcohol consumption can increase cancer risk.

According to a 2019 research article, drinking a bottle of wine a week—far less than a glass a day—increases a person’s lifetime cancer risk by around 1%–1.4%.

The bottom line 

A nightly glass of wine has been part of human life for centuries, but more research is needed to say for certain the effects that it can have on your health. If you enjoy it and keep your consumption within the recommended amount, there might even be some benefits to your health. But if you don’t drink, these potential benefits aren’t a reason to start. It’s important to keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle as a whole, including a healthy eating pattern, physical activity and regular socializing, is most important to support your overall health. Your nightly glass of wine likely won’t make or break you. 

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