A Little Wine Can Be Good For Your Brain, According To A New Study, & It’s Not The Drink’s Only Health Benefit
It's no secret that millennials really love their wine. As if you needed another reason to fill your glass, new research shows that wine is actually good for your brain. Personally, I have a glass of wine almost every night to clear my head after a long day of pretending to be a grown up, but as it turns out, it's as helpful as I always thought it was. A new study in the journal Scientific Reports found that "low levels of alcohol consumption tamp down inflammation and [help] the brain clear away toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer's disease," according to a press release.
While over-indulging can have adverse effects on your body and brain, enjoying your beloved vino in moderation has myriad benefits. "In this study we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain's ability to remove waste," Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study said in the press release.
If that's not reason enough to pop a cork, the New York Times detailed a previous study that found that red wine may also be the fountain of youth because resveratrol, found in red wine, may slow the aging process in the heart and brain. If red wine is not your jam, the website brainHQ reported that another study revealed that Champagne stimulates electrical activity in the brain, which can improve memory so you can be as vibrant as Betty White well into your 90s.
If you drink alcohol, wine is likely one of your go-to beverages, and you probably like to try every varietal you can get your hands on. You're in good company, my lovelies, because a new study from Wine Access reported that 65 percent of millennials seek out rare and unusual wines and vintages on the regular. If you like to have more than one glass of wine while catching up on Stranger Things, the study noted that two and a half glasses a day slows inflammation in the brain, is helpful in removing waste, and can even reduce your chances of developing dementia. The study was also careful to acknowledge, however, that chronic over-use of alcohol was linked to inflammation, which is consistent with past research on the subject.
Wine has also been found to improve heart health and is reportedly as beneficial as a trip to the gym. IMO, it's pretty great to learn that something I'm already doing anyway can reverse aging, improve brain health, and fight heart disease. In fact, the sought after fountain of youth might really be at the bottom of your glass after all. Aside from sipping on a pinot noir, Business Insider noted another study from the Yale School of Medicine found that the process of sniffing and appreciating wine might not just be for overly pretentious wine snobs.
In his book Neuroenology, How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, Neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd "explains how the specific sensory pathways in the cerebral cortex create the memory of wine and how language is used to identify and imprint wine characteristics," according to Columbia University Press.
According to Shepherd, the act of tasting wine engages more of the brain than any other human behavior. Basically, your sense of smell and taste work together to form a complex sensory experience that imprints the pleasure of wine tasting in your brain. What's more, Business Insider reported that the entire experience is important for getting the most benefits because your enjoyment of wine, coupled with your tasting companions, stimulates fond memories and positive emotions.
This is why people prefer different varietals, because each individual experiences wine in their own unique way based on their brain. "The analogy one can use is color. The objects we see don't have color themselves — light hits them and bounces off," Shepherd told NPR. "It's when light strikes our eyes that it activates systems in the brain that create color from those different wavelengths. Similarly, the molecules in wine don't have taste or flavor, but when they stimulate our brains, the brain creates flavor the same way it creates color."
So, if you're looking forward to a glass or two of your favorite red, white, bubbly, or rosé after a long week of adulting, you are absolutely empowered to reward yourself. Aside from making you feel better, you're actually improving both your immediate and long-term health. I always suspected that wine was the secret to everything, but it's good to have proof that my wine-health regimen is working.