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In vino veritas

Michel MontignacMichel Montignac, a well-known French dietitian, devoted his famous book “Wonderful Wine Properties” to his grandmother who lived 102 years old and never sat down to table without drinking a glass of good wine. The author affirms,  “Wine is an excellent remedy for prophylactic of cardiovascular and many other diseases”. However wine has healing power only when particular rules of wine consumption are observed.

We would like to present you some of statements and positions from the book of the famous Frenchman.
Michel Montignac affirms that wine originates from Transcaucasia (a region in the north of Big Caucasian Mountains), and then is cultivated in India. From Indian plains wine (from the word “vena”- what means “favorite” in Sanskrit) gradually extends to the Mediterranean basin where it becomes the subject of the divine trilogy about Osiris-Dionis-Bacchus.

Wine as a symbol of living-giving blood appears in The Old Testament. The Book of Proverbs says: ”Wine means life for a person (a man), if he is moderate in drinking. What a life without wine! Wine is created for people’s pleasure, for heart’s merriment, for soul happiness”. 

Michel Montignac took this panegyric to wine from “The Gourmet Almanac” (1803): “Wine is the best friend of a man if drinking moderately and the worst enemy if abusing. It is your partner in life, consoler in sorrow, decoration in welfare, main source of true feelings. Wine is milk for elder people and balm for adults. The best feast without wine is all the same what a ball without a band”. The great Louis Pasteur wrote in his famous “Wine Research …” –“wine is the healthiest and most hygienic one from all the drinks”.

Wine is an ancient healing remedy, affirms Michel Montignac. Since the man discovered wine, it came into arsenal of the most therapeutic medicines. Beginning from Ancient Times (Greco-Roman Civilization), Middle Ages (Renaissance), the Age of Enlightenment (Industrial Revolution) wine had been one of the prevailing remedies in the traditional medicine.

In the temples of Ancient Greece dedicated to Asclepius, the God of Medicine, to the place of magical medicine came real remedies among which wine held a very high position. Homer reports for example that the wounds of Philoctetes who was seriously injured in the Troy battle were healed by Podaleirius’s wine (the son of Asclepius).

Doctors when taking the Hippocratic oath must remember his words: “Wine is a wonderful thing apt in health as well as in illness. It is prescribed by necessity and in certain amounts in compliance with the individual build”. Hippocrat who possessed the sense of humor affirmed that harsh temper and bad mood are main sources of diseases. That’s why he strongly recommended drinking wine saying that “it makes laugh and be in good spirits”.

 In Ancient Rome they also knew about therapeutic properties of wine. We can read about it in numerous books by ancient authors. In year 1000 BC Dioscorides wrote: “Good, natural, a bit warm wine is easy assimilated, it is good for stomach, it is nutritious, stimulates the appetite, makes the sleep better, strengthens the body and gives the healthy look. The naturalist Pliny the Elder joining to the advices of Hippocrates confirms that “wine is a medicine itself, it is nourishing the blood, pleases the stomach, calms in sorrow. One more quotation from Petronius: “Wine lives longer than a man. Let’s drink it in like a sponge because wine is life!”

In the Middle Ages there was a belief that only mighty God can heal a sick person and the transactions of Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder were temporarily forgotten. Only when the Salerno Medicine School was established in the Italian province of Campania there was a persuasion that the fermented juice of wine does have a therapeutic action. In the books of that time we can read: “Good wine gives the chance for elder people to feel young again. Pure wine possesses numerous merits: it raises the tonus, pleases the stomach, drives out bad mood and clears overfull viscera. Wine makes mind lively, look shining, hearing sharp and favors with good health. The Arabic doctor Avicenna called wine the best friend of wise people.

In Renaissance one of the main panegyrics and wine propagandists was nobody else but Francois Rabelais. Few remember now that the famous author of  “Gargantua and Pantagruel” was an honorable doctor at that time and for all to hear announced: “Wine juice makes the mind and understanding clear, drives out sorrow, gives pleasure and fun”.

 Helvetius, a famous doctor of the Enlightenment, asserted that there is no sense to object to the moderate wine consumption, because it is healthy and even necessary for indigestion and sustains the processes of stomach work at recovering patients. A well-known French chemist Fourcroy wrote: “Wine is an exceptional medicine for those who didn’t get into the habit to drink it all the time. Wine is a restorative, corroborant (as an energetic factor) and a very powerful cordial. The great Voltaire said: “In moderate amount wine is the best medicine for soul and body”.

Michel Montignac, having taken into consideration modern statistics, comes to interesting conclusions: the more is the consumption of wine per head, the less is the risk of causa mortis by coronary deficiency. In the countries consuming wine such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain the death rate is the lowest. The level of wine consumption where the death rate is the lowest is from 24 to 34 gr. alcohol (1 wine-glass 100 ml, strength-12° contains 10 gr. alcohol). On the other hand, people not consuming wine as well as people abusing it (60 gr. alcohol per day and more run the risk of causa mortis. 

From all said above it follows that it is very healthy to drink 2-3 glasses of wine daily when having a meal. To drink wine by the meal, especially if it contains a great number of saturated fats, is not only a pleasure. Wine should be recommended, even imposed as a “duty” to drink in order to prevent fat accumulation on the artery walls in the hours following the meal. It happens to insist on the necessity of drinking wine daily but in no case from time to time. Occasional consumption - to celebrate an occasion or at weekends as it happens in Scandinavian countries where they drink wine in order to get drunk - is a very dangerous occupation. This is the opinion of the wine connoisseur, scientist and dietitian Michel Montignac.

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