Food for Thought: Raise a Glass

Foods for Your Brain

Your brain is an organ that needs proper nourishment just like any of your organs. In this three-part series we talk about the right foods to help your brain function at its best for years to come. Here, part two on the benefits of red wine.

While I am not the type to overindulge, from a personal standpoint, drinking the occasional glass of red wine after a meal has always been something I have enjoyed. I recently discovered how this occasional glass of red can benefit my brain, which was fantastic news!

Food for Thought: Eat to Maximize Brainpower (part one)
Food for Thought: Power Nutrient CoQ10 (part three)

French Paradox: Red Wine for Health

There has been quite a bit of hype regarding the use of red wine for various aspects of your health. People have been drinking it since the days of the pharaohs, so why now has it become so important?

The French paradox started it all. A few decades ago, despite the fact more people in France were smoking and eating fatty foods, their rates of heart disease were found to be not that high. This lower risk of heart disease was attributed to a moderate consumption of red wine which protected them from unhealthy lifestyles. A particular chemical contained within the skin of the grape was found to explain the positive virtues of red wine and why it was helping people control risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Resveratrol the Miracle for Your Heart

The chemical is called resveratrol. It is a “polyphenol,” which is a type of molecule similar to the catechins found in green tea. Resveratrol also fits in a class of important plant-based chemicals known as proanthocyanidins.

As a group, these special chemicals can exert special protection properties to many different cells within the human body. Of course, the brain is no exception.

So if you enjoy red wine, that’s great! It has a host of protective benefits. Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant and can reduce oxidative stress inside the brain.

Free-radical generation in the brain can be caused from the accumulation of metal ions like iron or aluminum, inflammation or the consumption of trans fats that can damage the sensitive, fatty membranes of your brain cells. In addition, resveratrol can decrease the damage inside the arteries located within your neck and the base of your brain that carry fresh supplies of oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells.

The accumulation of plaque inside these smaller arteries can be one of the major reasons why your brain is not functioning at its best. Resveratrol keeps the inside of your arteries clean by preventing blood clots, LDL cholesterol and small adhesion molecules inside the arteries. This chemical can also improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.

So if you’re looking to boost your brainpower and prevent cognitive decline, red wine could be the miracle you have been waiting for! If you are looking to maintain your memory and concentration, you may want to consider taking resveratrol in a supplement form or drinking a single glass of red wine with your evening meal.

Granzotto, A., et al., “Resveratrol and Alzheimer’s disease: message in a bottle on red wine and cognition,” Front Aging Neurosci. May 14, 2014; 6: 95.
Pasinetti, G.M., “Novel role of red wine-derived polyphenols in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease dementia and brain pathology: experimental approaches and clinical implications,” Planta Med. October 2012; 78(15): 1614–9.
Smid, S.D., et al., “Dietary polyphenol-derived protection against neurotoxic β-amyloid protein: from molecular to clinical,” Food Funct. December 2012; 3(12): 1242–50.