Wine experts at decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, study says

By: Mickey Caulfield

You may have heard reading, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku will keep your brain sharp as it ages, but would it surprise you to hear a recent study has added wine to that august company?

Well, being an expert in wine, anyway. A 2017 study from the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas has found that trained wine experts show significantly better function in areas of the brain associated with memory and sense of smell when compared to a control group of non-experts. Because these are the areas of the brain that typically show the first degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease, there is hope that exercising these areas could provide a buffer against neurodegeneration.

Participants in the study underwent MRI scans while identifying different odors and images. More time spent as a master-level sommelier was found to directly correlate with enhanced size of certain parts of the brain. In a more general sense, this study demonstrated that areas of the brain can be strengthened and physically built up through years of repeated use. While it may not be practical to train everyone over 50 as a master sommelier, doctors hope some kind of similar targeted brain training could have a beneficial effect for patients at risk for neurodegeneration.

 

Getting the most out of a glass of wine

The casual wine consumer may not consume wine in such a way that exercises this function of the brain, but it still puts a dent in the myth that alcohol consumption in any form dulls the mind.

So if you want to get the maximum health benefit out of your nightly glass of wine, make sure to add savoring—and most importantly, differentiating—a wide variety of wines to your routine. If you really take note of the wine’s aroma, its bouquet and its subtlest notes and you keep the routine up for a few years, it may help should keep your senses and brain sharp. Antioxidants are great and all, but shouldn’t our brains be our top priorities?

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