Can Red Wine Help Ward Off Dementia?

Drinking to your health just got a little more real.

We’ve all had those nights: You had one too many glasses of wine, and the rest of the evening is a blur. Our favorite drinks can sometimes lead to some pretty unhealthy behaviors. It seems, however, that the very same wine could also have a great deal of health benefits for our brains.

A recent study out of UCLA and reported on in Wine Spectator found that in a small group of subjects who were already experiencing mild cognitive decline, those who had been given red wine showed less decrease in brain function during the study period than those who did not. The researchers believe that red wine might help prevent dementia.

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This isn’t the first time red wine has been associated with health. Red wine—along with grapes, berries, and chocolate—contains resveratrol, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Resveratrol has also previously been shown to help protect against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. “The most recent study by the team at UCLA indicating that red wine could potentially slow the progression of cognitive decline in patients already exhibiting symptoms is interesting,” said Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist with IGEA Brain and Spine of NY and NJ, in an interview with The Feast.

However, it’s too early to read much into this research. The study included just 10 subjects, and would need to be conducted on a much larger scale before drawing any conclusions. Also, “It is unclear what is the exact recommended amount of wine, given that excessive alcohol consumption of any kind has been shown to actually further progress dementia,” said Gupta.

Research on the link between red wine and dementia has been going on for years, said Jim McAleer, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Orange County, in an interview with The Feast.

“Red wine has been shown, in light or moderate use, to help the heart, so it is reasonable to think it may help brain health by lowering stress, reducing cholesterol, etc," he explained. "The jury is still out on the impact of resveratrol. That said, there are many negative effects of alcohol use so if you are not a drinker, don't start in an effort to reduce your risk of dementia,” he clarified.

In other words: Drinking to your health does have its benefits, but do so responsibly.

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