We often see conflicting studies about food all over the Internet. One day cow’s milk is good for you, the next cow’s milk is harmful to your health. But, when it comes to wine, it seems people across the board are in agreement: a glass of red wine a day is good for your health. In fact, red wine could do more than just enhance your food. It can preserve your memory for longer, researchers say.
Scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago released findings of a new study funded by the National Institute on Aging that was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The study showed that just one drink of red wine a day may delay dementia in those at risk from the disease and keep the mind sharp.
As you may already know, cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.
“Everyone experiences decline with aging; and Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia’s cases,” Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, said in a statement about the new study.
Morris and her team of researchers reported that elderly adults who strictly followed a diet called MIND, described as a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet that emphasizes eating plant-based foods, were 7.5 years younger cognitively over a period of nearly five years than those who adhered to the diet the least.
“We have been studying the effects of nutrition on dementia for 20 years and felt that it was time to consider an overall diet that incorporated all of the science on nutrition and the brain,” explained Morris.
To do so, the researchers carried out an observational study of 960 adults with an average age of 81.4 years at 40 retirement community and senior public housing units in the Chicago area over a period of 4.7 years. They uncovered a slower decline in mental ability among the seniors who adhered most closely to MIND, or Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
This diet focuses on foods known to provide the greatest protection from cognitive decline. These foods include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, fish, beans, nuts, the occasional chicken, and wine. Followers of the diet limit the amount of the five unhealthy food groups — red meat, butter, cheese, stick margarine, sweets, pastries, and fried or fast foods — that they eat. The only fruits in MIND are berries.
“The study findings suggest that the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age,” Morris said. In an earlier report, the researchers announced that the diet developed at the Rush University Medical Center may also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.
Other studies on cognitive decline have also shown that wine contains high levels of flavonoids, natural compounds that have an antioxidant effect, which helps with good blood circulation and improved cognitive function. These flavonoids are thought to work by mopping up excessive amounts of harmful chemicals that are naturally produced by the body, as well as making the blood less likely to clot.
While this particular study by Morris and her team only shows correlation and not causation, we’ll take it as an excuse to hunker down with a glass of the good stuff. Enjoying a glass of red wine in moderation may help with cognitive function and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, after all. That’s good enough reason for all of us to feel good about enjoying a glass of red wine every day.