New research suggests that two to three glasses of champagne a week might help fight off the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The benefits come from a compound found in the black grapes used to make champagne, specifically the phenolic acid found in Pinot noir and Pinot meunier.
Experiments conducted on rats found that champagne appears to boost spatial memory.
This was determined through an experiment where scientists laced champagne in the rat subjects’ food every day for six weeks.
Each rat was then allowed to run through a maze in search for food. Five minutes later, the exercise was then repeated to see if the rat could remember where the original treat was found.
Non-champagne loaded mice had only a 50% success rate, but after a bit of bubbly their score increased to an average 70%.
Later, biopsy tests were used to measure the proteins that are important to short-term memory.
Researchers found that after just six weeks, there was a staggering 200% increase of proteins that are key in determining effective memory.
Lead researcher and biochemist Jeremy Spencer, of Reading University, is quoted as saying: “These grapes are used in red wine and lots of research has been done on the health benefits of red wine, so I was curious to find out if there were any health attributes in champagne.”
He goes on to say, “This research is exciting because it illustrates for the first time that moderate consumption of champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning such as memory.”
Previous studies by Reading University have shown that champagne could help heart health, just like wine. This is because drinking champagne creates high nitric oxide levels in the blood which increases blood flow and decreases both blood pressure and the likelihood of blood clots forming. Other research by the university has suggested that champagne also has all the associated health benefits of cocoa.
Researchers now wish to advance their study by conducting trials with up to 60 (presumably quite happy) pensioners who will be asked to drink champagne in controlled doses for the next three years.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, like other memory-impairing ailments, tend to develop slowly over time after we hit midlife. As such, the researchers hope that weekly small doses started early could provide a way to slow degradation.
As such, Spencer has suggested that anyone over 40 may consider drinking two or three glasses of champagne a week.
“Dementia probably starts in the 40s and goes on to the 80s. It is a gradual decline and so the earlier people take these beneficial compounds in champagne, the better.”
A spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Society is quoted as sounding a note of caution, saying, “This is an interesting study, especially for those who enjoy a glass of bubbly. However, people should not start celebrating just yet. This is the first time a link between champagne and dementia risk reduction has been found. A lot more research is needed.”
Other studies have recently cast doubt on whether total antioxidant levels really help combat Alzheimer’s and dementia risk, but again more work is needed in this area before we’ll know anything conclusive.
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