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    Lesson Four: Grapes of Life

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | May 16th, 2021

    Lesson Four: Grapes of Life

    This was a difficult post to write. I did not want anyone who does not drink alcohol to start drinking so that they can complete lesson four in creating their blue zone. If you accomplish the other eight lessons, you will be on your way to living a healthy life. However, for those of you who do drink, the key is red wine in moderation.  Lesson four in Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, is Grapes of Life – Drink Red wine (in moderation). The people living in the blue zone were consistent with their drinking and drank in moderation.

    Red wine is made by crushing and fermenting dark-colored whole grapes. Red wine contains powerful plant compounds and antioxidants. Most of the nutrients that makes red wine good for the heart are located in the skin of the grape.  To make white wine, the skin of the grape is removed.  It is the antioxidants that are responsible for reducing the risk of heart disease.  Drinking too much red wine can be harmful and may be associated with cancer and liver damage. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is the leading cause of preventable birth defects, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities.

    The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate drinking as:

    • 1 glass of wine per day for females
    • 2 glasses of wine for males.
    • One glass of wine is 5 ounces (oz) of 12 % alcohol by volume.

    What are my takeaways?

    1. Do not start drinking if you do not drink. There are eight other lessons in the Blue zones that you can follow.
    2. If you are going to drink, drink in moderation.
    3. Be responsible with drinking. Drinking too much and driving kills people.
    4. No alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
    5. Avoid alcohol if you have certain medical conditions especially conditions affecting the liver.
    6. You cannot save your daily drinks for the weekends. Moderation is daily.
    7. A glass of wine contains 123 calories and may contribute to weight gain if you drink too much.

    We are creating our blue zones based on the nine lessons outlined in Dan Buettner’s book. Below are the nine lessons and you can click on lessons covered from previous blogs.

    1. Move Naturally – Be active without having to think about it
    2. Hara Hachi Bu – painlessly cut calories by 20%
    3. Plant Slant – Avoid meat or processed foods
    4. Grapes of Life – Drink red wine (in moderation)
    5. Purpose Now – Take time to see the big picture
    6. Downshift – Take time to relieve stress
    7. Belong – Participate in a spiritual community
    8. Loved Ones First –   Make family a priority
    9. Right Tribe – Be surrounded by those who share the Blue Zone values

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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