The red wine and the unexpected benefits of moderate drinking

Several studies confirm that drinking wine in moderation benefits brain and its functions. In particular, it protects the brain from memory loss, dementia and cognitive decline.

In a study which involved more than365,000 participants, the risk of experiencing memory problems, dementia, orAlzheimer's diseases was reduced by 23% by drinking wine in moderation. (LoyolaUniversity Health System. "Moderate drinking may protect againstAlzheimer's and cognitive impairment, study suggests." ScienceDaily.ScienceDaily, 19 August 2011. <

But, what does 'drinking in moderation'mean?

On the Greek island of Ikaria, most peopleeven into their nineties, drink between two and four glasses of red wine eachday. In other countries, that would be considered alcoholism. In Anglo-Saxoncountries, the guidelines are: one glass for women, to for men. Despite thefact that the definition of moderate drinking is still unclear, we know that aregular moderate consumption of wine has neuroprotective benefits, the excessof it have neurodegenerative consequences.

Anyway, the reasons why wine, and alcohol ingeneral, in moderation is beneficial, are not clear. Most researchers believethat it's due to the anti-inflammatory action of antioxidants.

Wine is a very complex beverage, containinga large number of compounds and antioxidants, including phenolics. Scientistsat the University of Reading have proven that phenolics can benefits spatialmemory, the part of memory responsible for recording information about one'senvironment and orientation. In particular, the phenolic compounds intervene bymodulating the signals within two regions of the brain, hippocampus and cortex.These two regions are also responsible for learning. Other compounds thatempower the brain are quercetin and resveratrol. These two antioxidants  have neuroprotective benefits againstischemia, poor blood flow, oxidative stress, and other neurodegenerativedisorders.

The benefit of moderate consumption of wine,especially when associated with a social environment and the presence of goodfood, impact also the neurotransmitters. responsible for de-stressing  and relaxation. Alcohol in general increasestemporarily GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, which instructs the brain torelax. Everyone has heard the jokes about stress turning hair gray, apart fromthat, chronic stress could shorten our life span.

In fact, according to new research, stressdamages our DNA. When the DNA is affected, informations on how to behave couldbe wrongly sent to cells. This means that the cells could reproduce incorrectlyand open the doors to cancer and other life-shortening diseases.

Red wine in particular plays an importantrole in the diet of people in most of Blue Zone, pockets of lands with thehighest percentage of centenarians, such as Ikaria, Loma Linda in California,and Barbagia region of Sardinia.

Research suggests that having a circle offriends and connecting with them on a regular basis leads to a longer life andkeeps the brain engaged. Sharing interests, and simply taking care of otherpeople gives a sense of purpose, increases happiness and reduces stress.

So, if you want to reach 100, apart fromconsuming beans, greens, nuts, olive oil and whole grains, keeping the portionsof meat and processed food small, invite your buddies to hang out at happyhour.