For so many of us, travel and alcohol consumption go hand-in-hand because we’re often in the mood for celebration. With the exception of those of us who might be driving, this might be good. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol is one of the best ways to protect yourself against some of the worst vacation-ruining sicknesses.
Stomach bugs like listeria, salmonella and E. coli are common problems for travelers visiting areas with lower sanitation standards than those to which their immune systems are accustomed. Fortunately for wine lovers, studies have shown that when alcohol is consumed, the risk of giving in to foodborne illnesses is significantly reduced. The study states that alcohol’s high acidity makes it easier for the stomach’s natural acidity to kill pathogens.
Food scientist and founder of SickHoliday.com Richard Conroy supports drinking on holiday for this very reason. “If someone is traveling to somewhere like Mexico, where salmonella [for example] is more common, you could be protected by having some wine or tequila with dinner.” he said.
According to the expert, all-inclusive resorts and poorly treated water are some of the most likely places to pick up foodborne illnesses while traveling. His vacation-illness compensation firm has helped more than 15,000 people who got food poisoning while on vacation and while encouraging travelers to enjoy a drink, he joked that making this tip public to minimise risk of illness won’t help his business.
However, according to a professor of food microbiology at Cornell University, avoiding food poisoning while traveling isn’t as simple as a glass of wine. Professor Randy Worobo explains that in order to inactivate the pathogens, alcohol must be consumed either while eating the contaminated food or very shortly after. Furthermore, the amount you drink matters.
“The higher the alcohol percentage, the more inactivation you’re going to get of the foodborne pathogens. So, your wine of 14% alcohol is going to have more of an effect in terms of killing the foodborne pathogens compared to lower-percentage alcohol such as beer.” Worobo, of course, warned against excessive drinking which could lead to other different kinds of illnesses.
Many studies have found evidence that wine kills potent bacteria. In 2007, some red wines were proven helpful in inhibiting bacteria growth. Also, a 2004 study found that the grape skins, seeds and stems left over after wine-making proved deadly to E. coli, salmonella and staph.