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Surprising Side Effects Wine Has On Your Immune System, Says Science

From lost sleep to sneezing, here's what you're really getting when you uncork that bottle.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Whether you regularly crack open a bottle of Cabernet when you're hosting company, or pair your favorite pasta dish with a glass of Pinot, millions of people make wine part of their regular routine. In 2018, Americans drank a total of 966 million gallons of wine, or an average of 2.96 gallons per person, according to The Wine Institute. And while wine has a reputation for promoting relaxation and heart health, there are some notable drawbacks to drinking wine, especially when it comes to your immune system. Read on to discover the effects wine may be having on your immune health, and if you want to improve your health in a hurry, start with The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

It may make you more susceptible to viruses.

woman coughing into elbow while lying down on sofa in the living room.

While alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it can actually reduce the amount of quality sleep you get each night. According to a 2018 study published in JMIR Mental Health, individuals with low alcohol consumption reduced their sleep-induced physiological recovery by 9.3%, individuals with moderate alcohol consumption reduced recovery by 24%, and those with high alcohol intakes—more than one drink a day for women or more than two drinks per day for men—reduced recovery by 39.2%.

Unfortunately, over time, this can lead to serious immune health issues. A 2017 study conducted by researchers in the University of Washington Health Sciences department and UW Medicine found that, among 11 pairs of identical twins, those who slept for fewer hours had a less robust immune system than those who slept more.

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It could lower your risk of getting colds.

Happy woman outside

Though you may be more likely to develop certain viruses if you're a regular wine drinker, the common cold may not number among them. According to a 2012 retrospective study published in BMJ Public Health, among a group of 899 men, frequent alcohol consumption was associated with lower rates of developing the common cold compared to those who never drank.

Here's What Happens When You Drink a Glass of Wine Every Night.

It may make your flu symptoms worse.

senior man with winter seasonal illness fever cold problems

If you're worried about getting the seasonal flu and how it might affect you, you might want to start limiting your alcohol consumption now. A 2014 study published in Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research found that chronic alcohol consumption can make influenza virus A infections worse due to alcohol's impairment of T cells that might otherwise boost a person's immune response.

It may make you less susceptible to autoimmune thyroid disease.

doctor examines with her fingers, palpates her neck and lymph nodes

Your thyroid function has wide-ranging effects throughout your body, from influencing your weight to your energy levels throughout the day. Surprisingly enough, this vital gland may actually benefit from wine consumption—a 2012 study published in the European Thyroid Journal found that individuals in two separate studies who regularly consumed alcohol developed lower rates of autoimmune thyroid disease than members of the studies' control groups.

If you're thinking of cutting back, check out the People Who Should Never Drink Wine, According to an Expert.

It may make you more likely to suffer from allergy symptoms.

Allergic african woman blowing nose in tissue sit on sofa at home office study work on laptop

If you find yourself coughing and sneezing your way through allergy season, you may want to start limiting your wine intake. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark found that, among 5,870 Danish women studied, greater alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing allergic rhinitis. Want to give your immune system a leg up? Check out these 30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah