Next time you have a glass of red wine with dinner, make a toast to a healthier heart.
When you bite into that chunk of dark chocolate, think to yourself, “Here’s to lowering my cholesterol!”
That’s right! Believe it or not, there’s something in both of those indulgences that protects you from high blood pressure and heart disease, balances your blood sugar and keeps your brain sharp.
Polyphenols are natural antioxidants that increase helpful bacteria in our gut, reduce harmful bacteria and prevent inflammation that can lead to heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol that’s found in blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate and is especially abundant in the skin of red grapes, which is why that glass of red wine holds so many health benefits.
Now, we’re learning of yet another great thing resveratrol can do for you…
Resveratrol shows significant improvements for brain aging
In 2016, a group of Australian researchers conducted a small pilot study to see whether daily supplements of resveratrol could improve cerebrovascular function, cognition and mood in post-menopausal women.
A drop in estrogen, along with changes in brain connectivity, can cause the infamous brain fog that follows menopause.
I remember it well. I went (temporarily) from being sharp and on top of things to feeling like I was thinking in slow motion.
In the study, 80 postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 85 were given either resveratrol or a placebo for a period of 14 weeks.
During that time, measures of cognitive performance, blood flow velocity in the brain and arterial stiffness in the middle cerebral artery were taken.
Based on this small study, the team concluded that taking a small dose of resveratrol regularly not only improves cognitive function but can also improve blood flow and brain health.
But they didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, the same research team did a larger, more long-term study in order to confirm their results.
In the RESHAW study (Resveratrol Supporting Healthy Aging in Women), 129 postmenopausal women took either a placebo or 75mg of resveratrol, twice daily, for a year.
In subjects who took resveratrol, there were significant improvements in processing speed and cognitive flexibility, both of which contribute to executive functioning, a set of mental skills we depend on in order to focus, follow directions and handle emotions.
Based on their observations, the researchers concluded that daily supplementing with resveratrol has the potential to slow cognitive decline by as much as 10 years.
Other ways to keep your brain young
Including resveratrol-rich foods in your diet isn’t hard to do. Dark chocolate, blueberries and strawberries, peanuts and pistachios… not to mention the occasional glass of red wine (also good for killing oral bacteria and preventing gum disease, cancer and diabetes!). And supplementing resveratrol is an excellent idea. That’s because past research has shown resveratrol is rapidly absorbed. But it is also rapidly metabolized, so you may want to spread out doses throughout the day, like morning and evening.
And if you’re looking to keep your brain as young and fit as the rest of you, there are other things you can do.
- Eat more greens. Leafy greens are another food that can turn back the clock on brain aging.
- A daily meditation practice can prevent the “brain shrink” that often precedes Alzheimer’s disease.
- Get 7 hours of good sleep. MRI scans of the brains of people who sleep less than seven hours showed a faster rate of ventricle enlargement, one sign of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Eat memory-boosting foods like wild salmon (full of omega-3s),
- Take Vitamin B12. Studies show that having too little B12 causes the loss of brain cells and thinking skills. A daily supplement is a good idea, along with eating eggs, liver, beef and seafood.
- Altered Brain Connectivity in Early Postmenopausal Women with Subjective Cognitive Impairment — nutraingredients.com
- Sustained Cerebrovascular and Cognitive Benefits of Resveratrol in Postmenopausal Women — Nutrients
- Effects of Resveratrol on Cognitive Performance, Mood and Cerebrovascular Function in Post-Menopausal Women; A 14-Week Randomised Placebo-Controlled Intervention Trial — Nutrients
- Altered Brain Connectivity in Early Postmenopausal Women with Subjective Cognitive Impairment — Frontiers in Neuroscience
- Resveratrol — Linus Pauling Institute