Red Wine Consumption Could Fight Dementia

A preliminary study found that natural compounds in grapes can contain the spread of diseases such as Alzheimer's
Red Wine Consumption Could Fight Dementia
Researchers found that the grape polyphenols in a glass and a half of red wine promoted brain metabolism. (iStock/AMR Photo)
Feb 21, 2017

A glass of wine a day could keep the mind sharp. Several scientific studies have linked resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grape skins, to a reduced risk in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, among other health benefits. Now researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles have published the results of a pilot study in the journal Experimental Gerontology, that finds the compounds in grapes can strengthen brain activity in patients just beginning to experience cognitive decline. They believe it may be proof that wine consumption could be a method of early prevention.

The UCLA team conducted the study with five men and five women, ranging from ages 66 to 82, who had experienced mild decline in cognition for at least six months. People who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another cause of dementia, or who were taking medication for it, were excluded.

The researchers divided the subjects into two groups. Half took a daily dose of a placebo and half took a freeze-dried powder made from California Vitis vinifera grapes, the equivalent of three standard servings of fresh grapes. That's approximately one and a half glasses of wine.

The researchers conducted various neuropsychological assessments on the subjects at the beginning of the study and again after six months of therapy. The most important tests conducted were brain PET scans, which measured metabolism in each distinct region of the brain.

"Each region participates in different cognitive abilities," explained Dr. Daniel Silverman, head of the Neuronuclear Imaging Section at UCLA and the lead author of the study. "We looked at regions of the brain that we knew [activity] would go down if a person was in the early stages of memory decline due to something like Alzheimer's." Those parts of the brain became less active with subjects in the placebo group, the study found, whereas subjects who had been consuming the grape powder experienced no significant decline in brain metabolism.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's today. It's the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Correlations between resveratrol and Alzheimer's have been explored in multiple studies. Neurodegenerative diseases are believed to be caused by oxidative stress and hampered anti-inflammatory processes. Resveratrol—abundant in red wine—has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The key to this study is the focus on early stages of cognitive decline. "A trend that's been going on is to move to earlier and earlier stages of Alzheimer's," said Silverman. "The earlier you intervene, the less damage there will have been. Once there's damage, there's no reversing that."

Health Alzheimer's / Dementia Resveratrol News

You Might Also Like

New York Star Sommelier Arrested and Accused of Arson

New York Star Sommelier Arrested and Accused of Arson

Caleb Ganzer, wine director and co-owner of La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, allegedly …

Jul 29, 2021
José Andrés Enters Chicago Restaurant Scene

José Andrés Enters Chicago Restaurant Scene

The chef’s ThinkFoodGroup makes its Windy City debut with an all-day café and another …

Jul 29, 2021
Fires? Drought? Heat? California Wineries' Biggest Challenge Might Be Getting Insurance

Fires? Drought? Heat? California Wineries' Biggest Challenge Might Be Getting Insurance

After multiple years of wildfires, Napa and Sonoma vintners are struggling to obtain …

Jul 28, 2021
Cheval-Blanc and Ausone Say Adieu to St.-Emilion Classification. Does It Matter?

Cheval-Blanc and Ausone Say Adieu to St.-Emilion Classification. Does It Matter?

Owners of two storied Bordeaux estates say that the rankings should focus more on wine …

Jul 23, 2021
New York City’s Restaurant Week Returns as Dining Rooms Reopen

New York City’s Restaurant Week Returns as Dining Rooms Reopen

Summer event features new menu options, award-winning wine lists and more

Jul 21, 2021
Exclusive: Randall Grahm Joins Forces with Gallo for a New Wine Project

Exclusive: Randall Grahm Joins Forces with Gallo for a New Wine Project

The new brand—The Language of Yes—combines Grahm’s penchant for Rhône grape varieties with …

Jul 21, 2021