(Natural News) Many people like to unwind at the end of a long week by having a glass or two of red wine, and it turns out that this habit could be doing your body just as much good as it does your mind.
New research from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute has discovered that one of the compounds found in red wine could help slow down aging. This powerful compound is known as resveratrol, and it occurs naturally in the skin of red grapes that are used to create red wine.
Scientists found that this compound, which is also responsible for giving red and purple grapes their dark hue, can stop the breakdown of brain cells that normally occurs with age. In fact, it has many of the same protective benefits as exercise and a low-calorie diet. In the past, scientists found that resveratrol could help insects prolong their lives by providing a similar effect to that of calorie restriction.
In the study, scientists treated mice that were equivalent in age to 70-year-old humans with resveratrol over the course of a year. They found that it protected their brain synapses from age-related wear and tear, which is one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. These synapses are responsible for relaying motor commands to the muscles, making them a vital part of voluntary movement.
The study’s main author, Gregorio Valdez, said that he believes the findings will bring us closer to uncovering the mechanisms that can slow age-related degeneration of neuronal circuits.
Other benefits of drinking red wine
While red wine has a lot more resveratrol than white wine, experts say that the amount of resveratrol found in wine is too small to make a big difference. However, you still have plenty of great excuses to drink red wine. It has been shown to be particularly useful in slowing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It appears to work by stunting the ability of dangerous immune molecules from infiltrating tissue in the brain.
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A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine found that resveratrol could have a positive impact on the part of the brain that carries out memory, learning and mood functions; the hippocampus. It is believed that it could help treat memory loss in older people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
In that study, the rats who were given resveratrol noted twice the rate of neurogenesis of that of control rats who were not given the antioxidant. They also noted significant improvements in their microvasculature and less chronic inflammation of the hippocampus.
Resveratrol is also believed to have anti-cancer benefits. According to a study out of the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine at the University of Leicester, resveratrol keeps actively fighting cancer, as well as other diseases, even after the body has broken it down into metabolites. This is an important finding because the compound is quickly converted into metabolites after it has been ingested, prompting scientists in the past to wonder if it could even be beneficial if taken orally.
In fact, after it reconverts back into its usable form after ingestion, it is recaptured by cellular enzymes and regenerated into an even more effective form that can help slow cancer growth and spur cancer cell apoptosis by prompting cancer cells to consume themselves.
If you’re not a fan of grapes, don’t fret. There are plenty of other foods that contain resveratrol. In addition to the skin of dark-colored grapes, this potent compound can be found in blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate, peanuts, and pistachios.