Ditch & Switch: Wine Edition

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We are always on the lookout for health and wellness information for our clients and the members of our private group, a Living Well Life. When something seems illogical or nonsensical, it causes us to ask questions and wonder why. I noticed a significant shift in the number of clients that had high levels of glyphosate on their Zyto reports, so I began a quest to uncover the mystery of these out-of-range scores in people that were leading a toxin-free lifestyle. It became clear, very quickly, that the link was wine… dirty, nasty, toxic wine. I realized just how pervasive this poison had become, so read through and hang on, there’s a solution at the end.

I have some good news and some bad news and then some good news again!

GOOD NEWS: Wine is full of polyphenols, naturally-occurring antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables, that are created to protect the harvest from fungus, bacteria, and other harsh growing conditions. When you drink the wine, it helps protect you by neutralizing the free radicals that stress your system and cause disease. Natural, organic wines have a diverse variety of polyphenols including resveratrol to lower inflammation, procyanidins to protect cells, and ellagic acid which helps regulate blood sugar. According to a 2007 study from Finland, “wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.”

BAD NEWS: One of the sneakiest and worst chemicals that show up on my clients’ scans is glyphosate, the chemical produced by Monsanto, the same company that manufactured Agent Orange and DDT. We know glyphosate as Round-up. It’s used as a broad spectrum weed-killer and pesticide, and in the USA alone, more than 300 million pounds of this poison are applied to genetically-modified crops annually. Glyphosate herbicides do not dry, wash or cook off and they have been proven to be neurotoxic, carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors and a cause of liver disease at very low levels. Glyphosate is being implicated in cancer, increase in autism spectrum disorder, asthma, food allergies, and auto-immune disease, just to name a few. Genetically modified seeds are the only ones that can withstand this chemical assault, but overuse has created glyphosate-resistant weeds, so conventional farmers have begun applying even more chemicals, like 2,4D, to their fields. You can read more about that chemical here: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/24Dgen.html

And guess what? U.S. vineyards are one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Because of chemical overuse and the contamination that is throughout our soil, even organic crops test positive for glyphosate. That’s not all though, many vintners also include Mega Purple and Ultra Red coloring agents in their product for enhanced visual appeal, and added sweetness. It’s estimated that 25 million bottles produced annually include these chemicals. Other additives that you should be aware of are:

1. Sawdust is another shortcut to provide tannins and an oaky flavor at a lower cost.

2. Commercial yeast, genetically modified, is another additive that speeds fermentation, but can create a histamine reaction and head pain.

3. Sugar is added during fermentation, and is used to speed the processing time, and increase alcohol content.

4. The FDA has approved 76 different additives for use in winemaking. These include things like metals, toxic chemicals, fish bladders, and more.

Okay, there’s more BAD NEWS: Myclobutanil is an aggressive fungicide that is used in California vineyards. That state accounts for 50% of this toxin used in the entire United States, and 60% of that is used exclusively on wine grapes. The side effects from this toxin include birth defects, infertility, and organ damage. Other negative side effects reported are severe caustic effects or burns, and manifestations might include persistent vomiting, drooling, pain with or inability to swallow, and abdominal pain. Upper airway edema, and severe bronchospasm can also develop. Eye or skin exposure can cause severe irritation and burns. The fungicide can cause narcosis ranging from somnolence to coma. Other reports indicate that Myclobutanil can disrupt metabolic processes such as inducing hypoglycemia, uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation, inducing metabolic acidosis, causing methemoglobinemia, and causing electrolyte abnormalities. I’m sure that is the last thing that you are considering as you are enjoying a glass of wine with friends.

Along with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, this conglomeration of additives has certainly helped us to solve the food stressor additives and glyphosate mystery in our clients. Sadly, none of these additives need to be disclosed on the label. It’s definitely a buyer beware situation.

GOOD NEWS: There are, in fact, many organic and biodynamically grown crops from small family vintners around the world. That means, even though use of chemicals has risen 26x’s, or 2600%, in the last 50 years, these privately owned vineyards do not use them, and are adamantly opposed to them. They are also made without additives like the ones mentioned above. Another benefit to these speciality farms is their ability to experiment with different methods of farming, like dry farming. The vines that are grown on these lands get natural rainfall only, which causes their roots to grow deep, up to 50 feet more than conventional farming, so they are absorbing a multitude of nutrients through the rich soil. Because there is no sugar added, these small batch farms create wines that can be part of a ketogenic diet. Low sugar and carb count is optimal for ideal health. They are also:

1. Low in alcohol, with a maximum of 12.5% alcohol content which provides a more elegant taste, pairs better with food, and allows you to experience the benefits of wine, like improved heart function, and lower insulin response.

2. Low in sulfites. While all wines contain some naturally occurring sulfites, below 75 ppm is optimal. The US average is 350 ppm. The lower the sulfites, the more alive a wine remains.

Natural wines are “hangover free”. They do not cause brain fog, or head pain, and they promote better sleep and a healthier gut biome! Because wine is a living drink, the probiotics that are active will protect your gut from pathogens and reduce inflammation. Enjoying 3-5 glasses per WEEK is ideal. More than that and it will begin to kill off healthy gut flora colonies, cause inflammation, and raise cholesterol. Just like with everything else, moderation is the key.

DITCH! These are the 6 worst chemical offenders:

1. Beringer

2. Sutter Home

3. Yellow Tail

4. Robert Mondavi

5. Gallo

6. Barefoot

I’m sorry, friends. I am not much of a wine drinker, but even those labels are recognizable to me.

SWITCH! This is a short list of natural, organic wines and they are all around or under $25 per bottle:

1. Monte Bernardi

2. Pacific Rim

3. Grgich Hills Estate

4. Annona Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

5. Badger Mountain

6. Domaine des Bacchantes

In case that seems as daunting to you as it did to us, there’s an even simpler solution. Terry and I recently joined Dry Farm Wines for their curated collection of natural wines. We let them take the guesswork out of tracking down the highest quality, best tasting wines in the world. You can read more about them here: https://www.dryfarmwines.com/pages/pennybottle?rfsn=617206.7b163, and if you join their Social Club, you can get a bottle of their finest for just one penny!

And for staying until the end, here are 5 helpful tips to increase your enjoyment of chemical-free, organic wine:

1. Many small lot wines are small production, so, if you love it, buy more.

2. Low in sulfites means fresh. Depending upon the wine, you might want to open it a year or two from the release date.

3. Let it breathe. Many of these wines are young reds and need aeration.

4. Wineries are transparent! If you want to find out just how organic your wine is check out the websites for information about the growing and production practices of the wineries.

5. Curate your own organic wine list. Learn the qualities that you like such as “velvety” and flavors like “blackberry”, then look for those words in other wine descriptions and most likely – you’ll love it.

Cheers to toxin-free living!!

For more vital information for creating a toxin-free lifestyle, in, on and around you, please join us at a Living Well Life!

Lisa McCoskey