I often lose count of how many times I have written about why something "bad" can be good in certain situations. I have covered why coffee can have health benefits, why (fermented) dairy can be protective, why both meat and vegetarian diets can improve your health or at least not kill you, and I support controversial research into resurrecting the (brain)dead. Well today I bring you research on how moderate champagne consumption may help prevent cognitive decline in elderly people. Of course, I always say that everyone is different, as some people such as former alcoholics and those with no ancestral history of alcohol consumption should probably avoid all alcohol.
Why champagne, when more research has been on red wine? While there have been many studies on flavonoid-rich foods and beverages, those high in hydroxycinnamates and phenolic acids have been largely neglected. This study was conducted on rats, which are genetically very similar to humans, and would not be the only one showing benefits of moderate wine consumption (usually red) for preventing chronic disease. "Moderate" in this case means three glasses of champagne a week, not three a day like some news articles have misrepresented it. In comparison to alcohol- and calorie-matched controls, six weeks of champagne "supplementation" resulted in an improvement in spatial working memory among aged rodents. The champagne group also had improvements in the "distance" and "walking speed" aspects of the motor skills tests, but they weren't seen as "significant" (almost definitely caused by the champagne). The memory improvements were linked to changes in the levels of proteins involved in neuroplasticity (the brain remodelling to fit what you need to learn), cellular communication and cell division, in the area of the brain that deals with memory. These changes were how the phenolic acids, such as gallic and caffeic acid, were able to improve spatial memory. The higher levels of phenolics in champagne compared to other white wines comes from the type of grapes used to produce it, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which are used alongside Chardonnay grapes. ((Image: Pinot Noir grapes. Image Source: PRA/Wikimedia Commons))
Champagne has previously been observed to improve vascular (blood vessel) function in a similar manner to red wine. Caffeic acid, gallic acid and tyrosol, which champagne is relatively rich in, have also been shown to protect against cellular damage at "physiologically relevant" (not unreasonable) levels. Tiny amounts of tyrosol, caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid have been found to protect the cortical neurons against 5-S-cysteinyl-dopamine induced damage. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motor control and mood, which has to be augmented in Parkinson's Disease. Caffeic acid, known as a hydroxycinnamate, has been shown to protect neurons against damage by reducing the production of inflammatory substances. However, these have been ignored in the world of animal and human research until recently. Actually, any benefit of anything to do with alcohol is often ignored in "my" world of natural health, with many of us not drinking at all, so it is no surprise. However, it was a surprise to learn in the Vienna schnapps museum that liquor has saved many lives from infection in the days before clean water and plumbing. So in conclusion, many "bad" things often have a good side, you just have to use them in the right way.
PS: I'm now on Instagram! Search for alexandraspringchick