It comes in many forms – red, white, sweet, sour, aged, fresh. Who doesn’t like to recline with a glass of wine after a hard day? Humans have been brewing and drinking alcohol for thousands of years, and you don’t cultivate a relationship with rotten grapes for that long without learning some unexpected side effects of imbibing. For instance, if you drink enough wine at any party you can inevitably turn even the primmest and most proper social gathering into a hot disaster faster than you can say “Dionysius.” More practically, wine has some interesting side effects on our minds — which you might already know – and our bodies, including some surprising evidence that wine consumption might sharpen our mental and physical acuity rather than dull them.
It’s a well-known fact that a glass of wine a day keeps your poison-filtering liver pumping at peak condition, helping you filter out various toxins from your body. Recent research, however, has revealed that wine has some effects on your brain as well that don’t end with you passed out in a gutter and married to a cocktail waitress. Now, before you jump to nay preliminary conclusions, know that downing a bottle of wine and hitting the town is invariably a poor idea under most circumstances. But researchers at the Food Science Research in Madrid recently published a new paper that suggests moderate amount of wine consumption in one’s lifetime provides some surprising new neurological benefits.
Scientists investigated the compounds left in the body after a moderate amount of wine consumption. They discovered that wine leaves behind “metabolites” the byproducts of human digestion of the various sugars and chemicals in your average glass of wine. These compounds stay in the body even after it expels waste. Scientists added these compounds into cell samples – then subjected the altered cells to stressful conditions that lead to dysfunction and death. Those cells with the compounds proved hardier and more versatile than those without. How do they do that? Metabolites spread throughout a cell as they’re consumed; protecting all parts of a cell from the systematic cascade that usually heralds the death of a cell.
What does this all mean, practically speaking? Many medical conditions involve cellular death or dysfunction. Most prominent of all is Alzheimer’s, a degenerative condition that affects the brain. Neurons – brain cells – die quickly; connections between their neighbors are severed, and as a result the afflicted individuals become unmoored from their memories and in some cases their sense of time and space. Though no permanent long-term cure has yet been found, this study offers a new, radical and comparatively cheap treatment for protecting cells longer: treat yourself to a glass.