Wine and laughter: They pair well!

Wine has become so vital to California, that it deserves a whole month. And did you know in California, wine country tours are second only to Disneyland in popularity with tourists! According to the California Wine Institute, more than 14 million people visit the California wine regions each year.

There is a lot of talk on the health benefits of wine, but before you crack open that bottle and toast to your good health, here is what the experts say.

Is wine fattening? Researchers say they have found a compound in red wine and grapes that block immature fat cells' ability to develop and grow. Personally, I can dispute that. My fat cells seem to be maturing! There's research on the heart health benefits of a daily glass (or two) of red wine, as they say wine lowers blood pressure. Now who checks their blood pressure when drinking wine?

The Greek physician Hippocrates considered wine a part of a healthy diet and advocated its use as a disinfectant for wounds. I have several friends who are “Hypocrites” and could use some disinfecting from my life!

Some studies suggest that grape juice may provide some of the same heart benefits of red wine, including reducing the risk of blood clots, reducing so-called bad cholesterol and preventing damage to blood vessels in the heart. Grape juice or wine? That is an easy one!

These are stressful times. It is important to take a moment to destress. A good glass of wine, and a good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it does not just lighten your load mentally, it induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

One thing is important — always drink responsibly!

Sam DiGiovanna is a 35-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department, and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale. He also is VP of Fire Operations with