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Surprising Side Effects Wine Has On Your Liver, Says Science

Is drinking a glass of wine really that healthy for you? We take a look at the research.

If wine is considered a part of the Mediterranean diet—which is continually ranked the best diet for weight loss by the U.S. News & World Report—then there must be something healthy to it, right? Although alcohol can get a bad rep when it comes to your health, wine seems to have a different kind of story. Between the antioxidants, the links to good cardiovascular health, and even women's health, having a glass of wine seems to be good for your health all around. And yet, it's still considered a type of alcohol, which is why it's important to know the side effects wine has on your liver.

Yes, drinking a small amount of wine can be great for your health, but it's important to know the limits. Here are the side effects wine has on your liver that you need to know before popping that cork. After, be sure to read up on our list of the 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.

Wine may decrease your risk of liver fibrosis.

glass wine

Turns out, drinking wine isn't all that bad for your liver. In fact, one study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology pointed out how drinking a moderate amount of wine each week was actually linked to a reduced fibrosis, meaning the odds of developing advanced fibrosis (when the liver tissue becomes scarred) was decreased significantly. The study says that drinking a "modest" amount of 1 to 70 grams per week (about half a glass of wine) saw reduced fibrosis rates.

Here are the Amazing Effects of Drinking Wine You Never Knew, According to Science.

But too much wine could have the opposite effect.

glasses white wine

Excessive alcohol consumption of any kind—wine included—can result in alcohol-related liver disease (ALRD). Alcoholic fatty liver disease (also known as alcohol steatohepatitis) can happen when you consume a heavy amount of alcohol at once, according to the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Heavy alcohol consumption can damage liver cells, promote inflammation, and can weaken the body's natural defenses, according to MedlinePlus.

According to the Addiction Center, consuming 2 to 3 alcohol drinks a day (or even binge drinking more than 4 to 5 drinks in a row) can cause harm to your liver, and increases your risk of alcoholic fatty liver disease. Keeping your wine consumption to 2 drinks or less a day for men, or 1 drink or less a day for women, would be considered a moderate alcohol consumption, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Large amounts of wine can lead to hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Kelsey Knight/ Unsplash

If you're in the habit of drinking a lot of wine over time, this can also significantly affect your liver's overall health. If you have alcoholic fatty liver disease, your body can develop two serious conditions that will affect your long-term health.

The first is hepatitis, an inflammatory disease that comes from a viral infection caused by drinking an increased amount of alcohol. The other is cirrhosis, which is permanent scarring of the liver due to long-term damage from health conditions such as hepatitis.

Even if you're only drinking two or more drinks a day, if it's happening on a regular basis, your body is still at risk for developing this particular ALRD.

Too much wine can slow down your liver.

Woman pouring glass of white wine

When you drink any alcohol—wine included—your liver will actually slow down during consumption. Alcohol is broken down in the liver, but if you're drinking more than one glass of wine an hour, your liver won't be able to process it fast enough, according to the journal Alcohol, Health & Research World. The non-processed alcohol will then go into your bloodstream, which causes the feeling of intoxication. If you're not giving your liver the full hour to digest a glass of wine, the liver process will slow down and your body will take an even longer period of time to break it down.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten