On and on the wheel turns, feeding the huge stockpile of information regarding alcohol and human health. Is it good; is it bad? How much? Which kinds? Most experts at this point concede that no more than two glasses a day, particularly of red wine, can yield positive benefits in the body. But any more than that negates those benefits.
Here’s a new study that examined a link that doesn’t get as much attention as, say, wine being heart-healthy. No, this one focused further north — the brain, to be precise. And it pondered the question: could moderate drinking actually make the mind stronger?
Indeed, a large study of about 5,000 adults in Norway has reported that moderate wine consumption is associated with better performance on cognitive tests. The subjects were on average 58 years old and had not suffered a stroke. They were followed over seven years, during which time they were tested with a range of cognitive function tests.
They found that, in women, there was a lower risk of a poor testing score for those who consumed wine at least four or more times over two weeks in comparison with those who abstained. The study does acknowledge that any positive effects of wine could only be possible for those who keep a nutritious diet and avoid harmful lifestyle choices such as smoking and not exercising.
Still, in the study, not drinking was linked with a significantly lower cognitive performance in women. This held true after certain risk factors were accounted for, including age, education, weight, depression, and heart disease.
The results of this study support findings from previous research on the topic: In the last three decades, the association between moderate alcohol intake and cognitive function has been investigated in 68 studies comprising 145,308 men and women from various populations with various drinking patterns. Most studies show an association between light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
What may be responsible are the antioxidant chemicals, polyphenols, which are present in many types of alcohol, most predominantly wine. Alcohol may help protect against hardened arteries, blood clotting, and inflammation, which can impair cognitive ability.