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  #1   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 00:24
s93uv3h s93uv3h is offline
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Default Can Red Wine Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer's?

Can Red Wine Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer's? 9-26-19

Alcohol is a toxic liquid infamous for impairing judgment, concentration and coordination, yet we often read headlines telling us that red wine is good for the brain.

Think about it. When was the last time you went to your primary care doctor, neurologist or psychiatrist for help with a brain symptom such as memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, or confusion, and were diagnosed with Alcohol Deficiency Disorder?

Doctor: “Your problem, Mrs. Williams, is that you don’t drink. The human brain requires alcohol to function at its best. Go home, start drinking regularly, then come see me again in three months.”

This ludicrous recommendation never comes from the mouths of experienced clinicians who understand all of the ways in which alcohol endangers health. It comes from headline-grabbing studies designed to make wine look like a health food. These studies make the news because we desperately want to believe that the solution to our Alzheimer’s epidemic may be as simple as enjoying a glass or two of red with dinner—a classic example of wishful drinking.

Funny how we rarely see media messages promoting beer, vodka or whiskey for brain health—it’s almost always red wine. Why is that?

What separates red wine from most other alcoholic beverages is the presence of resveratrol, a compound lurking within grape skins which is supposed to have antioxidant properties. Is this true? If so, is drinking red wine to reap the alleged benefits of its resveratrol content worth the very real risks posed by its alcohol content?

What Is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a fungicide that grapevines produce to fight against gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) infection. When gray mold encroaches upon a grape, resveratrol sets to work dismantling its membranes—crippling its invasive capabilities by completely destroying its vital cellular components from the inside out. When resveratrol is finished with the poor, unsuspecting fungus, "no recognizable cellular structures are visible except ghosts of mitochondria." [Adrian and Jeandet, 2012]

How might this dastardly molecule hold the secret to better brain health? Those placing their hopes in resveratrol point to its antioxidant properties, which theoretically could protect brain cells from damaging oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an important root cause of many brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

What Does the Science Say?

The lion's share of studies about red wine and public health have been epidemiological studies—many of which have suggested red wine might be associated with lower risks of various conditions such as heart disease. Unfortunately, epidemiological studies are not scientific experiments; they are questionnaire-based guesses about how foods and beverages might affect our health. This method of studying nutrition is notoriously flawed and at best only capable of generating hypotheses that then need to be tested in experiments to see if they deserve serious consideration. So, let’s focus instead on interventional studies—experiments designed to test the effects of substances on cognitive health.

Most of the hopeful headlines we see were inspired by the following three interventional studies:

Study #1

In the journal Nature, researchers at the University of Rochester published a study examining the effects of different doses of alcohol on the brain. In their conclusion, they suggest that people who drink some alcohol may be better protected from dementia compared to those who don’t drink at all. How did they arrive at this viewpoint?

In these experiments, mice (yes, mice) had pure alcohol (not wine) injected into their abdomens (presumably because no self-respecting mouse would voluntarily drink pure alcohol). Mice receiving “low” doses (equivalent in human terms to about 2-1/2 glasses of wine per day!) had increased fluid flow through their brains and smaller amounts of one brain cell protein called GFAP. Increased brain fluid circulation was viewed as a good thing because it might help to clear the brain of toxins that can accumulate in dementia. [Another possibility not mentioned is that perhaps brain fluid flow increases in response to alcohol in order to flush the toxic alcohol out of the brain . . .]

Despite the fact that this was not a study of red wine, resveratrol, humans, or dementia, and despite the authors stating explicitly in the body of their paper that “Naturally, this study performed in mice should not be viewed as a recommendation for alcohol consumption guidelines in humans”, headlines like these emerged:

Drink Up: New Study Concludes Wine Can Offset Dementia

A Couple Glasses of Wine a Day Helps Clean the Brain

Study #2

A UCLA study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology reported a “protective effect of grapes against early pathologic metabolic decline” presumably due to the presence of multiple antioxidants within grapes, including resveratrol.

In this small study, people with mild cognitive decline were given a drink containing either a freeze-dried grape powder or a placebo powder twice a day for six months. Those receiving the grape powder had higher metabolic activity in certain areas of their brains, but no significant improvements in their cognitive tests. [Unfortunately, the authors did not disclose the ingredients of the placebo powder except to say that it contained the same amount of fructose and glucose as the grape dust, so even if the grape dust brought brain benefits, the question would remain: compared to what?]

Funded by the California Table Grape Commission, this research had nothing to do with alcohol in general or red wine in particular, yet if you type “red wine Alzheimer’s” into Google’s search box, the #1 result that pops up is this headline, referring to this same powdered grape study:

Red Wine Consumption Could Fight Dementia

Study #3

The most rigorous study conducted on this topic was a multi-center phase two clinical trial led by researchers at Georgetown University, published in the journal Neurology. It’s main conclusion was that “resveratrol is safe, well-tolerated, and alters some [Alzheimer’s disease] biomarker trajectories.”

In this double-blind, randomized study, 119 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given either capsules of a synthetic resveratrol supplement or a placebo every day for a full year.

The study yielded confusing results. In the resveratrol group, one molecule associated with Alzheimer’s disease dropped, while others were relatively unaffected. Responsibly, the authors commented “The altered biomarker trajectories must be interpreted with caution. Although they suggest [central nervous system] effects, they do not indicate benefit.”

Perhaps most concerning was that total brain volume in the resveratrol group was smaller. The authors are unsure why this occurred, and shrinkage did not seem to negatively affect brain function. [Had this been a red meat experiment, one can only image the headlines . . .]

Two years later, a second paper was published about this same study, looking at additional markers of brain health. In the resveratrol group, some markers of inflammation rose, while others fell. People taking resveratrol appeared to suffer smaller losses in cognitive performance and daily function.

Although this research was also not about alcohol or red wine, the following is one of the headlines that ensued:

Red Wine Molecule May Slow Alzheimer’s Symptoms, Study Finds

The Truth about Resveratrol and Red Wine

None of these experiments studied human beings, with or without dementia, drinking red wine in any amount, and therefore none of these studies can be used as a reason to drink red wine for dementia prevention. In fact, I am not aware of any studies testing the effects of red wine itself on humans at risk for dementia.

If you are encouraged by the confusing results of the resveratrol studies and are considering drinking red wine as an enjoyable way to get your resveratrol, consider the following:

Doses used in the study described above were 500 to 2000 milligrams per day. To reach even the low end of that dose range, you would have to drink more than 19 gallons of wine per day, because the typical glass of red wine contains just one measly milligram of resveratrol.

Resveratrol is believed to “work” by fighting oxidative stress. Unfortunately, that lonely milligram of antioxidant in your wine glass is swimming in a full five ounces of alcohol, a powerful promoter of oxidation.

Regular alcohol consumption can lead to tolerance and addiction in many people, eventually making it difficult to control how much is used.

Alcohol can damage the liver and gastrointestinal tract, increase risk for falls, cloud judgment, and contribute to depression and anxiety. Alcohol predictably disrupts healthy sleep patterns which may increase risk for dementia.

If you decide to pass on the wine and reach for a resveratrol supplement instead, consider the following:

The little-known secret about most polyphenol antioxidants, including resveratrol, is that the human body appears to treat them more like threatening toxins than health-boosting nutrients. Instead of welcoming resveratrol with open arms, we immediately transform 99.72% of it into metabolites to be flushed out in the urine, making it extremely difficult for intact resveratrol to reach the brain. Despite taking colossal doses of up to 2000 milligrams per day, resveratrol levels in the brains of people in Study #3 were barely detectable (0.45 nanograms/ml on average—a nanogram is one million times smaller than a milligram).

Although resveratrol is generally well tolerated by most, supplements can cause nausea, diarrhea and weight loss in some individuals.

In many ways, the red wine story mirrors the story of Pom Wonderful, a brand of pomegranate juice marketed in the U.S. as an anti-aging, disease-fighting elixir packed with powerful antioxidants. The fact is that those antioxidants are virtually impossible for us to utilize and are accompanied by a whopping 32 grams of sugar, a powerful promoter of oxidation. In both cases, we’re told that drinking something unhealthy is good for us simply because it contains a smidgen of a colorful, albeit impotent, plant antioxidant with dismal bioavailability and questionable health benefits. [For more information please read my post "The Antioxidant Myth."

Earlier this year, the FDA cracked down on supplement companies trying to exploit consumer fear of dementia for profit, despite the fact that “no supplement has ever produced a clear benefit for [Alzheimer’s disease] patients in pivotal trials. Ginkgo biloba, the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid, B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, and resveratrol have all fallen short.” Alzforum.org 3/10/19]

if you are curious to learn more about this famous little molecule, Long Island University pharmacy Professor John Pezzuto chronicles the history, science, and marketing of resveratrol, including its potential benefits for certain conditions, in this 2019 paper.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

That is the question. In 2018, The Lancet published a reconsideration of the epidemiological studies which have long suggested benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. The authors concluded that the potential risks of even light drinking far outweigh any potential benefits, and therefore “no level of alcohol consumption improves health.”

Interventional studies of light to moderate drinking are unfortunately few and far between, therefore the risks of having a glass or two of wine with dinner are poorly understood. It is up to you to carefully consider the risks in your particular case. If you choose to drink red wine, do so because you enjoy it, rather than because of unfounded assertions that it's good for your brain.

Dementia is not caused by a red wine deficit. Do we have any rigorous human intervention studies to support this statement? No, but do we really need randomized controlled clinical trials to convince us that a substance which impairs judgment and concentration and can even cause blackouts won't protect us from memory problems in the long run?

To learn about nutritional strategies with real potential to significantly reduce your risk for dementia, please see my article “Avoiding Alzheimer’s Could be Easier than You Think."
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  #2   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 06:18
Ms Arielle's Avatar
Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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Quote:
Dementia is not caused by a red wine deficit.



The resveratrol v OH debate I settled long ago in my mind/diet. The alcohol that runs to the front of the line for fuel seemed a catastrophic choice given the need to keep fighting IR. For my kids, I only buy black grapes, occasionally. No green grapes, no red grapes. Have toyed with slipping the skins to get the resveratrol effect but at the same time reduce the sugar content by eliminating the center pulp. ( toss to chickens).

My mother has a history of drinking every night. In my mind it was linked to the "bad behavior" as her partner also drank every night-- I choose not to drink. But these studies keep pulling alcohol back into the light as if a miracle drug.

More recently, I have come across the theory that the body produces its own antioxidants just fine when it is fed correctly. Rather than depending on food/ supplement sources. A new idea to me. If its true, then we focus too much on external sources of anti oxidants, and need to switch focus to food management, including quality of the food and TRE models.

Overall, alcohol has not made its way into my home as wine for daily consumption. Rather only to be used in cooking, as the OH is cooked off. Good to know the benefits of drinking are still not validated.
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  #3   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 07:21
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khrussva khrussva is offline
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Thinking in terms of the French Paradox related to heart disease, I'm coming to believe that there is a natural bias going on as humanity weights what makes the French different from the rest. Scratch the higher smoking rate. Scratch the fatty butter & cheese. We KNOW that those things are bad for you. Hey, it must be all that wine! They've been spinning their wheels to prove it ever since. The bias comes from thinking that something we know is a given fact -- when in fact, we are off base in that belief. If there is such a thing as the French Paradox, then I'd put my money on all that healthy fat and vitamin K2 loaded cheese.
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  #4   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 10:12
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Meme#1 Meme#1 is online now
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I bet it's the K2 too!
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  #5   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 10:27
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teaser teaser is offline
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I agree on a lot here--like the point about resveratrol in studies coming in massive doses that make it unlikely to explain a beneficial effect (if it turns out there is any) from wine.

On the point of not much resveratrol making it into the brain, it mostly being disposed of--meh. This largely involves the liver--the liver is central to whole body metabolism, that includes the brain, it's possible the liver's response to this stressor has some general health benefits. We talk a lot here about diabetes, blood glucose etc. having possible effects on brain health, alzheimer's as type III diabetes, etc., so... maybe? But here;

Quote:
Although resveratrol is generally well tolerated by most, supplements can cause nausea, diarrhea and weight loss in some individuals.


Not an inert substance... the rodent studies where resveratrol was used--nausea, diarrhea, maldigestion-->a sort of non-intention calorie restriction? Certainly even short of that, changing the flavour of the chow, which this stuff would do, which many polyphenols etc. will do could change the pattern of food consumption. Not saying this is how it would work out--but for instance, you could imagine if the food is a bit less pleasant to eat, animals avoiding snacking, only bothering to eat when they are fairly hungry. There was a recent discussion of sweetness of fruit--one way to make it sweeter, without increasing actual sugar content, is to decrease bitter or sour compounds.

Wine? There are places where that's very much a part of the traditional diet. All sorts of reasons that might go with a good outcome, depending where you are in the world.
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Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 10:36
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Additional information for the resveratrol geeks:

https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/resveratrol
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  #7   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 10:43
CityGirl8 CityGirl8 is offline
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All these studies about wine really crack me up. Like we need to somehow justify having a glass or two of wine with dinner every night. We Americans are such silly puritans. Have a glass of wine because you enjoy it, and stop worrying about it. That right there is the key to the Mediterranean Diet.
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  #8   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 11:07
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityGirl8
All these studies about wine really crack me up. Like we need to somehow justify having a glass or two of wine with dinner every night. We Americans are such silly puritans. Have a glass of wine because you enjoy it, and stop worrying about it. That right there is the key to the Mediterranean Diet.


I agree. Really, how much damage is a glass or two of wine on a regular basis going to do? If you enjoy it then drink it. I don't drink but not because I think a glass or two of wine is going to damage my health and if irrefutable evidence found that there was some miniscule health benefit to drinking wine I would not take it up but that's just a personal decision not based on what wine might or not do for my health. This kind of research strikes me as pointless. A phrase that keeps coming to mind when I read about the latest nutrition research is what Richard Feynman said about the term "nutritional research" that it was an oxymoron.
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Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 11:29
Ms Arielle's Avatar
Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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It jumps me out of ketosis. Period. That is my n=1 reaction. I can choose wine and carbs and cancer or...... no glass of wine, few carbs and control cancer.
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  #10   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 12:55
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Dalesbred Dalesbred is offline
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I figure it’s just about my only vice so I’ll continue to enjoy a good red, in moderation of course, just in case😊. Although I do plan to do Stoptober this year.

Last edited by Dalesbred : Fri, Sep-27-19 at 13:02.
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Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 14:27
Ms Arielle's Avatar
Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRB5111
Additional information for the resveratrol geeks:

https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/resveratrol


Very detailed and lengthy, with back up data. Interesting.

Only talks about resveratrol. Not red wine. Left me asking: how does the alcohol component affect the results....?
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  #12   ^
Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 14:30
GRB5111's Avatar
GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Good question. But since resveratrol is the ingredient of focus, it's interesting to know what type of health impact it has when isolated. For those who feel that it has beneficial effects and who don't drink or don't drink wine, this is an option. It's never as cut and dried as the wine makers and other advocates would have you believe.
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Old Fri, Sep-27-19, 19:13
Ms Arielle's Avatar
Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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I rather like picking the wild concord grapes this time of year. Not an overly sweet grape, but definitively loaded with dark pigments. My alternative to wine. Lol
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Old Sat, Sep-28-19, 03:29
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Low carb makes one a cheap date, and keto makes you a dirt cheap one

I'm more sensitive to alcohol now. I was never much of a drinker, except socially or on festive occasions, so it's not like I really miss it, either.

I am interested in the very low sugar wines but it's a shipment, not a bottle, and a bit pricey at that. They are all kinds of organic and traditional too, so I think that's worth investigating.

Just as my gluten problem might really be the Round-Up, my wine problem might really be the additives in it. Not just sulfites, either: there's apparently lots of legal ways to doctor a wine.
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  #15   ^
Old Sat, Sep-28-19, 03:44
s93uv3h s93uv3h is offline
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Every now and then I'm reminded of how great this place is.

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