While many people rely on the Hot Toddy once they’ve gotten sick in order to soothe their symptoms, general consensus seems to have always been that drinking, especially during flu season, causes one to be more susceptible to a cold. But a few studies actually indicate that the opposite may be true, that drinking in moderation actually helps prevent you from getting that cold.
One such study, conducted by Carnegie Mellon in 1993, examined who was most susceptible to a winter cold: those who smoked, those who smoked and drank, those who just drank and those who did nothing at all. Smokers were the most susceptible to the flu, especially upper-respiratory ailments, but moderate drinkers got sick even less than all the other groups. On top of this, those who combined their drinking with smoking seemed to somewhat offset the cigarettes’ effects, getting sick only a normal amount compared to people who just smoked and got sick much more frequently.
An even more promising study, however, when it comes to drinking and flu prevention came out of Spain and was completed in 2001. Here 4,272 faculty members and staff at five universities were studied in order to see how drinking impacted flu season, and what they found was very good news for red wine drinkers. While those who partook in beer and liquor in moderation seemed to fall ill at an equal number as those who did not partake in alcohol consumption at all, people who consumed two glasses of red wine a day got sick far less than anyone else. In fact, these red wine drinkers were sixty percent less likely to get sick than people who did not drink at all, or only drank beer and liquor.
The reason red wine seems to fight off a cold better than all other beverages isn’t the alcohol, but instead the antioxidants present in the wine. Because of this, people who consume darker beers, such as Guinness – which is also high in antioxidants, though not as high as some red wines – might see similar results.
Cheers to fighting flu season!