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Pour a Glass? The Pros and Cons of Wine

With Paul Kriegler, RD

Season 8, Episode 8  | October 13, 2020

Wine has a long tradition in many food cultures around the world, and is a favorite alcoholic beverage for many. But is it really a healthier choice when it comes to alcohol? Paul Kriegler, RD and wine aficionado, talks about wine’s effects on our health, including our cardiovascular system, hormones, even exercise performance. He also offers tips on how to choose healthier wines, as well as which ones pair best with some favorite foods.

Headshot Of Paul Kriegler.

Paul Kriegler, RD, LD, CPT, CISSN, is the program developer for nutritional products at Life Time. He is also a wine aficionado and works part-time as a wine ambassador at The Vine Room, a local wine bar in the Twin Cities.

“It’s important to have a really healthy relationship with food, and that includes everything you consume — food and wine,” says Kriegler. “Find ways to enjoy the things that you enjoy and fit them into your lifestyle, because there are ways you can do that. If you learn to appreciate quality and manage quantity, your life can be pretty awesome when it comes to food and drink.”

Kriegler offers these tips and considerations for being a health-conscious wine consumer:

  • Be mindful of your consumption. Because our liver has the only cells that can metabolize alcohol, it is — no matter what source it comes from — a toxin. While wine can be a component of a healthy diet and lifestyle, it isn’t necessary to achieve good health. “It’s the dose the makes the poison,” says Kriegler. Low to moderate levels of consumption — such as one to two five-ounce glasses of wine a day — tend to be best supported from a health perspective.
  • Go for red. Red wine can offer some special benefits due to the compounds in the skin of the grapes. During the long fermentation process, they impart more nutrients, including antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids. You can get similar benefits from other deeply colored produce, such as red grapes themselves, or purple onions, strawberries, and blackberries.
  • Know the difference between “organic” and “made with organic grapes.” A vineyard may uphold organic growing practices, while the winery where the wine is made may not — this is often marked on the bottle as “made with organic grapes.” If a wine is labeled “organic,” it likely means organic practices were upheld in both farming and production.
  • Consider biodynamic wines. This takes the principles of organic winemaking a step further. Growers consider all the ecological systems that affect their farm, from pests and animals to soil, water, and air, as well as other elements including lunar and astrological cycles.
  • Keep sustainability in mind. Both growers and producers can use sustainable practices. Though it’s not the same as being certified organic, it does mean they’re doing a lot of the right things to ensure the farms, ecosystems, and products are sustainable and healthy — and not highly processed.
  • Understand sulfites. Sulfites are likely the most recognizable additive to wine — they can, however, also be naturally present in wine. Many view sulfites negatively, but they can help protect the natural integrity of the colors, flavors, and stability of the wine.
  • Be aware of other potential additives. Large-scale producers may add things to artificially adjust the flavor, color, and texture of wines so they look and taste the same despite changes in grapes from growing season to growing season — these don’t necessarily have to be disclosed on the label. There are also ingredients used in the production process that aren’t retained in the finished product. For example, egg whites are commonly used for filtering and clarifying, making a lot of wines not vegan. (If you’re looking for a vegan wine, look for ones that use a process called “fining.”)

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Transcript: Pour a Glass? The Pros and Cons of Wine

Season 8, Episode 8  | October 13, 2020

Jamie Martin 
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman 
And I’m David Freeman, the national program leader for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving forward in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin 
In each episode of this season, we’ll break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman 
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[Music]

David Freeman

Hey, everyone. I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin

And I’m Jamie Martin.

David Freeman

And welcome back to Life Time Talks. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about something special. It’s called wine, a beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries around the world and has, essentially, been a part of our food and social tradition. And as far as alcoholic beverages go, it’s considered to be what? One of the healthier options. So we’re going to be diving deep into those specifics with our special guest, Paul Kriegler.

Jamie Martin

Paul is a registered dietitian and personal trainer with Life Time, as well as the program developer for all of Life Time’s nutritional products. He is also a wine aficionado, and he shared with us in this episode that he has recently become an ambassador for a wine shop in the Twin Cities area. So he brought all sorts of nutrition smarts about wine to this episode, as well as kind of a few fun tidbits. David, what were some of the takeaways for you? Did you learn anything fun or new about wine?

David Freeman

Yes. Yes. Yes. I mean, there were so many different things that Paul threw out there. The one thing that I really enjoyed was how many different types of, like, grapes and how the process works. It was so many different things that I was just not aware of. So when he was starting to break it down and to understand how long of a process it takes to make great wine, I was just, like, floored with that. So that was my one big takeaway is just there’s so many different key elements that go into making this great tasting wine that we enjoy throughout our lives.

Jamie Martin

There are so many different ways that wines are grown. There’s, you know, kind of more of the traditional methods, but then there’s also more of the natural wines and the biodynamic. I really thought that was an interesting method that he shared with us, and really, essentially, that’s really about a growing method that’s tied in closely with the seasons, and it goes back to, like, the soil health, when the grapes are planted, when they’re harvested, all of those pieces, and you know, I am the daughter of a farmer, so I love to know where my food comes from and how it’s grown, so I love knowing that about my wine now, as well. So leaning a little bit more about that and how to look for good wines, as well.

David Freeman

I love it, and those were just a few highlights, and we don’t want to give away the gift of what Paul’s about to share with us. So we can’t wait to hear about what you guys take away from this episode. We hope you enjoy it. So let us know afterwards what you think. Let’s get after it.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

Hey, guys, we’re back with another episode of Life Time Talks, and we have Paul Kriegler here with us today. Paul, welcome.

Paul Kriegler

Thanks for having me.

Jamie Martin

Yeah, we’re so thrilled to have you on, and in leading up to our episode, we learned a few things about you, Paul. One of them being that you’re a little bit of a wine aficionado — is that how you say it?

Paul Kriegler

Aficionado.

Jamie Martin

Yeah. We need to hear a little bit more about this.

David Freeman

I think the word you just said, I just want to talk about that. Just aficionado. I’m just like, what, but I mean, I love it. Paul knew exactly what you were saying, but I’m super excited to have Paul on as well. He’s just uber smart, and I’m curious to hear a little bit about the most recent thing that we learned about you, Paul.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah. Thanks. I’ve always been interested in wine. I got exposed to a vineyard winery experience on a vacation I was on, and immediately struck me with how interesting the whole industry is, how it relates to the social aspect of food, and like, the responsible agriculture side of things. It’s a full-circle cultural experience when you really get down to it.

I’ve always been interested in wine as, like, a hobby. You know, read a few books about wine. Always stayed in contact with what’s going on in the industry throughout my college years, and it’s never been part of my career, per se, but recently I did pick up a part-time job just for fun. It’s a good, healthy distraction, is what I consider it, at a local wine bar here in the Minneapolis area in Hopkins called The Vine Room. I work there a couple nights a week, and I’m making charcuterie boards, and pouring wine flights, and learning a ton about, you know, small-scale wine producers from around the world. It’s really interesting.

Jamie Martin

Well, you mentioned just the complexity of wine and how much goes into it. I mean, it has a long history from the different types of wine. Red, white, you know, the rosé’s, and there is so much to it. So, when you dive into wine, what’s your favorite part to study?

Paul Kriegler

You know, the chemistry of the process is super interesting, and especially to hear about what’s going on in the modern wine world in different production methods and even farming practices that are going on. It’s pretty incredible how advanced things are getting, you know, right down to popular wine grapes that people might recognize.

Like Chardonnay, there’s producers that are producing it in the traditional method and aging in oak barrels and that sort of thing, and you get these big, rich wines that kind of punch you in the face a little bit, and then there’s producers using the same grape, probably grown on the same ground, that are producing wines that are, like, thin and almost metallic. They’re using more stainless steels and cement vessels for fermenting. You know, there’s a ton of interesting things happening in the production of grapes.

So growing the fruit and caring for the land, and then there’s a lot of neat innovation going on in the production world, and what it’s ending up as on the consumer side is an explosion in the number of options that people have. So, like, if people think I don’t like wine or I’ve never liked wine, I would argue there’s probably a wine out there that you would absolutely fall in love with.

David Freeman

Wine itself and alcohol, when you think of consumption, has probably considerably gone up during this time. So tell us a little bit about understanding the difference between drinking wine or drinking beer or hard liquor. Like, what are the differences?

Paul Kriegler

It’s interesting you point out the home consumption of wine and other spirits and alcoholic beverages has gone up. It coincides with probably a significant downturn in onsite sales. So, like, restaurants haven’t been open, right? So restaurants have seen a massive decline in alcohol sales throughout this recent period of time, and home sales have gone up accordingly.

When it comes to how much alcohol people consume from those different categories, so beer is typically around 5 percent alcohol by volume. Wine is usually somewhere between 11 and 14-1/2 percent alcohol, and liquor is usually . . . like, you think of a vodka or a whiskey, it’s about 40 percent alcohol. So it’s in the middle ground, middle-lower ground. So it’s not . . . I mean, it’s stronger than beer, ounce for ounce, but it’s not something that’s going to knock your socks off like a glass of whiskey.

David Freeman

Would you consider wine now being kind of in the happy medium? Is it a healthier choice than the other two then?

Paul Kriegler

You can make arguments all the way around, yeah. Yeah, I think, in general, what you see from some of the population-based studies, wine drinkers tend to be a little bit healthier, especially if they’re moderate wine drinkers, one to maybe two glasses a day, one to two 5-ounce glasses a day, but there’s other factors involved. You know, generally, wine attracts people that have higher education and higher — they’re more affluent. So there’s other aspects of their lifestyle that are probably putting them on a better health platform to begin with. So you can’t blame the wine for causing health. Definitely doesn’t cause good health.

Jamie Martin

Well, you’re bringing up, you know, some of these other kind of socioeconomic factors tied to wine consumption, right, but there is something about wine and the social element of it and how people consume it, and that’s one thing I know, you know, we have talked about the Blue Zones here on this podcast, and one of the nine factors of healthy living in the Blue Zones were on the globe. Are that many of those cultures drink wine on a regular basis, and part of that is tied to the social aspect. So can you speak to that at all?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, I mean, if you look at the U.S.’s alcohol consumption, especially wine consumption, it’s, by far, not the highest in the world per capita. So if you look at old world wine countries, like France and Italy and Spain even, for that matter, it’s very much a part of their food culture. If you look at the wines that come out of that part of the word, traditionally, they’re very high acidity wines just from the type of land that they’re grown on, the type of climates that they’re grown in.

The grapes produced are very high acidity when you make them into wine, and that pairs really well with food. So, oftentimes, wine in those parts of the world are part of the food experience, and they just have a simpler food culture to begin with, very much more farm-to-table, traditional food growing, gathering, and production methods than we have here in the highly industrialized food world in the U.S.

Jamie Martin

Is there something to the slowness of how meals are consumed, as well?

Paul Kriegler

I think that’s fair to say. Like, you know, eating a meal, it shouldn’t be transactional. It shouldn’t just be to shove food down your gullet, right? I think in modern times, a lot of people . . . I mean, I’m guilty of it, too. You eat fast over your keyboard just so you can get to your next meeting, but if you learn to appreciate food — and wine is part of that experience — then you’re more likely to enjoy the whole totality of the experience and less likely to end up abusing or binge drinking wine or alcohol, you know? So I think wine is something that teaches people to slow down, especially if it’s in the context of, you know, other high-quality, really enjoyable food and company.

David Freeman

The number one metabolic disease in America is heart disease, right? Any studies out there that says drinking a moderate amount of red wine actually helps for heart health. You also have what we talked to Sam McKinney about the other week. We talked about gut health. How does it, if it’s red wine or wine in general, how does it actually improve those things?

Paul Kriegler

Oh, that’s a good question. Let me start by saying alcohol, no matter what source it comes from, is considered a toxin. The only cells in our body that can metabolize alcohol is our liver. By definition, that means it’s a toxic substance, and the dose kind of makes the poison. So the amount and the frequency can have a huge impact on the end effects, whether it’s on your cognition, your gut health, or your heart health.

And you’re right. There’s a lot of evidence that supports moderate consumption, moderate to low level consumption, even frequent consumption at low levels of red wine in particular. And the reason red wine has some special connotations or special benefits is when you make red wine, the compounds that are in those red grapes, they’re in the skins of the grapes. The skins are included in the fermentation process.

So there’s a long amount of time when you’re making the wine that the skins, and to some extent, the stems from the clusters, they impart more nutrients, antioxidant nutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids that end up having some positive effects, whether it’s from wine or actually from grape juice or from eating grapes themselves, some positive effects on the cardiovascular system, whether that’s helping with reducing inflammation, managing histamines, you know, all these biochemical reactions that happen in the very delicate inner linings of our arteries.

There turns out there’s some benefits from the nutrients that are found uniquely in red wine because of the red grapes, and there’s other foods that have similar compounds, like purple onions, like red onions, strawberries, blackberries. Any of those deeply colored produce fruits and vegetables, they impart some of the same nutrients.

David Freeman

You said inflammation. So does that speak a little bit to the gut piece then?

Paul Kriegler

Maybe. Yeah, there might be some of those flavonoids and phytochemicals from the red grape skins that make their way not to the bloodstream, but instead, make their way to the lower GI tract where they can interact with beneficial bacteria. So, yeah, there could be some gut benefit, but to be honest with you, more people have detrimental effects on gastrointestinal health if they consume too much alcohol. So there’s a fine line there, and in my experience as a dietitian, helping people work through gut issues, you know, alcohol from any source tends to be kind of a barrier of some sort.

Jamie Martin

And it’s typically something like when you’re recommending somebody work to heal their gut, right, alcohol is typically one of the things we suggest staying away from?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, because, again, the dose makes the poison. If you over consume it, which people tend to do — if you tell them something’s healthy for them, then more is better, right? Like, that’s the thought process. We’re all guilty of it. You know, I kind of use this analogy: If you give a mouse a cookie, they’re going to ask for a glass of milk. People are going to say how much can we get away with? And then they’re going to go 20 or 30 percent beyond whatever you give them. So that’s where people get caught up, and alcohol starts to become a barrier for one reason or another.

Jamie Martin
OK, so you mentioned red wine, specifically the grape skins are part of the fermentation process, which brings me to — and you touched on this very early on — is the growing method, and so I think about, you know, they talk about we should potentially buy organic grapes because they maybe don’t have as many chemicals on them, or sprays that’ve been sprayed. So can you speak a little to the variety of the growing methods? You know, you hear about organic. You hear made from organic grapes. You hear biodynamic. So what can you tell us about those various growing methods and why they may matter in terms of the cleanliness — and I’m using air quotes — of the wine you’re drinking.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, it’s a big topic. So, in food, organic is pretty tightly regulated. The term organic is really tightly regulated, and it refers mostly to . . . actually, in the food world, it refers to not only the growing methods, but it also refers to the production methods. If a food product is organic, it means it was grown using organic practices and it was produced using organic practices.

In the wine world, it’s a little bit more of a gray area. So you can have organic growing practices at the vineyard where the vines are and the grapes are grown, and then at the winery, where the wine is made from that fruit, they might not use organic practices. They might introduce something into the equation during production, and that’s where you see some wines being marketed as made with organic grapes, which means the farm probably had organic practices in place, but the producer may not have upheld all those organic qualifications, if you will. So if a wine is labeled as organic, that means the growing methods were probably organic, and the production methods were probably adhering to the organic practices. Biodynamic is a whole other realm, which means other activities at the farm itself are synced up with, like, the cycles of the moon and what do you call it? Your horoscope calendar.

David Freeman

Zodiac?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, it’s like a syncing up of all the ecological systems that are impacting that farm, including all the pests that might be around and the other beneficial animals that are grazing around, pruning weeds away from the bases of the . . . you know, you might have chickens running around the farm, and biodynamic farmers have these interesting methods of, like, packing a cow horn with cow pies and then burying it beneath the vines and that sort of thing.

So there’s all these extra things that go into biodynamic farming practices that are, like, above and beyond organic. So that’s the other thing. Is it’s not tightly regulated, and then it’s possible to have growers and producers in the wine world just use sustainable practices, which means they’re not organic, or they haven’t been certified as organic, but they’re doing a lot of the right things to make sure that their farms and their ecosystems and their products are sustainable and healthy and they’re not, like, highly, highly processed.

Jamie Martin

Which goes into the next question, because people can add additives to wine, different producers. So let’s talk a little bit about the additives and preservatives.

Paul Kriegler

Sure. I mean, most wines have sulfites in them, and people tend to point to sulfites as something as a negative, but in reality, it actually protects the natural integrity of the colors and the flavors and the stability of the wine. Some are present in wine naturally as part of the process of taking grapes and turning them into a fermented product, but then there’s oftentimes added sulfites, and there’s different labeling requirements, depending on the country that it’s sold in or produced in, what has to be labeled as additives and what doesn’t.

So it gets pretty confusing pretty quickly, but sulfites is probably the most recognizable additive, and then there’s other things that are used in the production process, dozens of other things that are used in the production process of wine that actually don’t end up being retained in the finished product, which is interesting. Like, people might be surprised to know that egg whites are a common ingredient used in the production of wine, and that actually helps with filtering out some impurities and kind of clarifying the color and the finished product of wine, but it makes a lot of the wines out there not vegan.

David Freeman

Yeah. I’m trying to be plant-based over here and you just dropped that on me.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah. There are producers out there that are making wine using vegan practices. So there’s other ways of, it’s called “fining” the wine, taking out impurities and improving the color and texture, and then there’s, you know, the high-volume producers are adding things like gum arabic and other textural components that don’t actually have to be on the label, and there’s other large-scale producers that, you know, you might buy the same wine, but from different years of vintages from the same producer because they produce it in mass, and it always tastes exactly the same. You have to wonder why. It always looks exactly the same. That means they’re adding things that artificially adjust the color, the flavor, the texture from growing season to growing season, and they don’t necessarily have to label that or disclose that. As I got more and more interested in wine, it makes you appreciate the small and medium-scale producers that are super transparent. Whether they have an organic certification or not, they’re just going to tell you the truth right out in the open.

Here’s what we do at our farm, and here’s what we do in our winery when we produce products, and they’re not afraid to answer questions if you have them. So that kind of brings it back full circle. Like, wine is a really interesting industry to get involved in because you can find some of the best levels of transparency that you could compared to other foodstuffs or other consumable products.

David Freeman

Well, that was a play on words there. You said it’s called “fining” wine?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah.

David Freeman

And that I need to find the right wine, exactly, that’s probably not taking the practice of using egg whites and messing my whole plant-based process up right here. So I got a fun little game I want to play. You want to play?

Paul Kriegler

Sure. Let’s play.

David Freeman

OK, so, you got red or white wine, and what I’m going to throw at you is a meat, and you tell me what wine goes with it and the why. You ready? Let’s kick off with fish.

Paul Kriegler

Depending on how you’re cooking it and what you’re flavoring it with, fish could go with . . . in general, if it’s a white fish, you’re going to probably drink white wine, but rosé could work really well. It might even be OK to have, if it’s, like, a blackened fish, it might stand up pretty well to a spicy little Syrah or a medium-bodied Pinot Noir, which would be red wines. Salmon goes well either way. Shellfish, typically, you’d go white. White wine with shellfish. Yeah, did I answer that one?

David Freeman

That’s perfect. This is rapid fire. You ready? Next one. Steak.

Paul Kriegler

Steak?

David Freeman

Yes.

Paul Kriegler

You got to go red. I’m sorry, you have to go red with steak.

David Freeman

Why? Tell me why.

Paul Kriegler

The bigger, the bolder, the better. So I’m thinking, like, Cabernet Sauvignon would probably be the best to start with if somebody’s new to having a food wine pairing experience, but a Malbec, a Syrah, a big juicy Zinfandel might be really good to have with a steak.

David Freeman

I’m assuming it’s going to end up bringing out the flavor, or is that why? Yes, OK.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah.

David Freeman

Alright, and then pollo, AKA chicken in English.

Paul Kriegler

Chicken?

David Freeman

Yes.

Paul Kriegler

You could go right down the middle and probably pick a good rosé. A rosé, just to be clear, it’s a white or light pink wine made from red grapes. So they pick red grapes, and then they separate the skins. They allow a little bit of contact time with the red skin in the juice while it’s fermenting before separating off the skins, and that’s what gives you the partial color.

So there’s not, like, pink grapes out there that they make wine out of. It’s actually red grapes that they pull the skins off. Chicken would go well with some of the lighter reds. Pinot Noir would be nice. Sangiovese out of Italy would be nice. A Tempranillo out of Spain or a Beaujolais would be a lighter red French wine, but you could go the whole spectrum of white wines, too, again, depending on how you’re preparing the chicken and what other flavors are happening at the meal.

David Freeman

Now, did I miss any? I tried to hit three quick meats.

Paul Kriegler

I think cheese is a big one. Softer cheeses tend to go really well with kind of an acidic white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc, some of the rosé spectrum. Hard cheeses tend to pair a little bit better with red wines, but again, there’s a lot of overlap there that different people might enjoy differently. For a little experiment, you could, you know, do a little wine flight at home and taste the same cheese paired with two different styles of wine and figure out which one you like better.

David Freeman

Well, unless it’s cashew cheese, I can’t have it, remember?

Paul Kriegler
You can . . .

David Freeman

No dairy for me.

Paul Kriegler

. . . you just choose not to.

David Freeman

Yeah, I choose not to. There you go.

Jamie Martin

Well, in that vein, David, so beans and legumes, right, like, we hear a lot of people, that’s their main course for some people, if they’re avoiding meats of any sort. What about those? Does that depend on preparation, too, how you’re preparing your . . . if that’s your main course, what do you pair that with, Paul?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, I think beans and legumes are just inherently so neutral, that you could make any wine work. So it kind of depends on what else you’re flavoring those things with.

Jamie Martin

What about, like, tofu? I know that’s a hard one, too.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah. Inevitably, with tofu — and don’t be mad at me — you’re going to need some hot sauce, so you might want to lean towards either a nice acidic Sauvignon Blanc, or even a dry Riesling would pair really well with a spicy preparation of tofu, but some red wines would work really well, too, as long as it’s got a little acidity to it.

Jamie Martin

We had some audience questions come in about wine and how it affects our bodies, right? So we already talked about heart health. We talked about gut health. But what about our hormones?

Paul Kriegler

Well, as you can tell from our conversation, it’s an enjoyable topic. It’s tasty. We all enjoy it from time to time. So, in the short term, it can help relieve stress. It helps people unwind a little bit, but that effect is . . . I don’t know, it’s kind of short lived. I mean, it does help take the edge off a little bit, and it might help people fall asleep a little bit easier, especially if their mind is busy from the day of work and that sort of thing, but ultimately, if you over consume it, then it can actually disrupt sleep pretty darn quickly.

Meaning you can fall asleep easily, but the quality of sleep starts to suffer even after a glass or two of wine at night, especially if your glass is bigger than it should be, but it’s not inert. It creates a lot of shifts in our hormone responses. So when alcohol’s in our system, pretty much the only energy we burn is that alcohol. So any other energy we consume, like carbohydrates or fats or proteins get harder to deal with.

It gets easier to store those extra calories as fat, harder to burn them or use them for productive purposes. So it messes with sleep, and as a result of that, it does increase ghrelin, our hunger hormone, and decreases leptin. Alcohol consumption does create blood-sugar instabilities, partially because it stimulates a lot of insulin production, especially if we’re eating not so great foods along with it, high carb foods for that matter, like highly processed carbohydrates.

So you can get this rebound low blood sugar at some point, usually throughout the night. Like, in the early morning hours, between 2 and 4 a.m., if you wake up after a night of having a few cocktails or a few glasses of wine, it’s usually because your blood sugars are unstable at that time and your body’s waking yourself up with a little shot of cortisol to lift your blood sugar back up.

So if you’re drinking, I would encourage you to eat something with that meal, and it should be something relatively balanced, ideally with protein, good amount of fiber, and make it nutritious if you can, but inevitably, if you drink too much, even good healthy red wine, you might end up having a low blood sugar overnight. If those types of things are happening frequently, then your chronic cortisol pattern can get thrown off.

Your chronic blood-sugar management pattern can get thrown off, and the longer or the more frequently those things are being thrown off their course, that can start to disrupt sex hormones, as well. So testosterone, estrogen balance, growth hormone. That’s why I say it’s, you know, in general, alcohol consumption doesn’t really add a ton of great things to health. It can be a healthy component of a diet and lifestyle, but it’s not necessary to achieve good health.

Jamie Martin

And I think that was going to be one of our final questions for you. Is can it be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and nutrition plan overall. So one other thing that people asked about was what about wine’s effects on our bodies when it comes to exercise performance. You touched on a couple of, you know, you talked about, kind of inadvertently, weight loss and fat-burning capabilities, and that’s all tied to hormones, but what about our actual exercise efficacy?

Paul Kriegler

Yeah, it definitely disrupts physical performance. As hard as I’ve tried to personally overcome that limit, it’s not good. If you’re trying to achieve your peak abilities of physical performance, alcohol probably needs to be, like, the tiniest sliver of your lifestyle as possible. You know, more specifically, it does decrease testosterone if you’re consuming it on a regular basis, which can inhibit your recovery ability.

So, as you’re trying to progress through a, you know, ever-increasing amount of physical stress on your body through a training program, having either a flatlined testosterone and growth hormone output or decreasing amounts of those important hormones, you should expect performance declines over time, or at least a serious plateau while you’re still drinking.

David Freeman

I mean, now that you say that, I remember at one point in time, I did, like, a century ride, and I’ve seen some other endurance style races, and I see beers at these certain spots. What’s the purpose of that then? Is it just for fun, or are they really trying to . . .

Paul Kriegler

Yeah.

David Freeman

Oh, it is? OK. I’m just making sure. I didn’t know that.

Paul Kriegler

Yeah. Purely for the social engagement aspect.

David Freeman

OK. They’re not adding a little bit more fuel to the engine?

Paul Kriegler

No. No. When you see the Tour de France, they don’t have wine stops, even though they’re riding through wine country, you know?

David Freeman

Well, I wanted to debunk that myth because I know a lot of folks are like, yeah, we can have these beers at the races to give us a little extra boost.

Paul Kriegler

It’s a morale boost more than anything.

Jamie Martin

So, Paul, before we go to the power minute, which, David, you always take the lead on, I wanted to ask you, you have mentioned a bunch of different wines. I personally learned my favorite kind of wine is a Cabernet on a wine tour in Napa a couple years ago. What is your go-to wine? If you had to pick one, what would it be?

Paul Kriegler

I’m really partial to Grenache.

Jamie Martin

OK, tell me about it. I want to know about this.

Paul Kriegler

It’s from Spain. It’s called Garnacha, but other parts of the world, it’s grown as Grenache. It’s a red wine grape. It’s typically used as kind of an accent grape. Most wines that you see on the market, even if it says Cabernet Sauvignon, it has a sliver of something else in it to either prop up the acidity or round out some flavor notes, you know, different types of grapes complement each other well.

And that’s what you see in like red blends and white blends and that sort of thing, but Grenache, you know, skilled producers can make a really tasty Grenache that stands on its own, and it’s difficult to produce. It’s difficult to grow and difficult to produce. That’s I think why I appreciate it, but it has, you know, some red fruit notes on the nose and front of your palate, and then it’s got a nice — it has good body.

So, in the wine world, you think about the tasting as shapes. It has a round shape. It fills your mouth. There’s weight on your tongue and then a little bit of acidity and spice on the finish. So you have just a really interesting experience that you might look at the glass of red wine and say that looks like red wine. It smells like red wine. Well, to me, it tastes like something different.

David Freeman

We’re going to go into our power minute now, and I’m going to get you with the double trouble today, Paul, just because I know you so well. So the double trouble question, are you ready?

Paul Kriegler

I’m ready.

David Freeman

First one. What’s the best time to drink wine? I wanted to rhyme there.

Paul Kriegler

Gosh, the best time to drink wine?

David Freeman

Yes.

Paul Kriegler

I love sunsets. So it’d probably be evening time around sunset, especially if you can be outside watching that sunset over a lake or a body of water. It’s a great environment to be in and slow down and just appreciate the good things in life.

David Freeman

Love it. So everybody heard that. Sunsets with Paul, that’s when you drink wine. Last but not least, Paul, I know we’ve been talking about wine the whole time. We always want to leave our listeners with your finishing thought. Like, what do you want to leave the listeners with, whether it’s wine or just in general, just your power minute right now. What do you want to leave our listeners with?

Paul Kriegler

I think it’s important to have a really healthy relationship with food, and that includes everything you consume, you know, food and wine, which means don’t beat yourself up over certain choices. Find ways to enjoy the things that you enjoy and fit them into your lifestyle, because there are ways you can do that. The more you make a battle out of food and your food environment, the harder the war’s going to get. So if you just learn to appreciate quality and manage quantity, then your life can be pretty awesome when it comes to food and drink.

Jamie Martin

Paul, thank you for coming on. Before we sign off, where can listeners learn more about what you’re doing and the work that you’re doing with Life Time?

Paul Kriegler

Mainly, they can see some of my writing on The Source, so thesource.lifetime.life. From time to time, I’ll post something that I create in my kitchen on my Instagram @_cafepk_. Other than that, I don’t know where they can find me. They’ll just have to come to The Vine Room in Hopkins I guess.

Jamie Martin

That’s Hopkins, Minnesota. Go to The Vine Room. Thank you, Paul.

Paul Kriegler

Thank you.

[Music]

David Freeman 
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin 
And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram at @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at thesource.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman 
And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach. You get the gist.

Jamie Martin 
Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls each episode together and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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