Yet Another Reason to Celebrate With Wine
The Mediterranean diet is among a handful of diets that have been studied extensively. It’s been proven conclusively that this diet and lifestyle prolongs life, and improves overall health. Various experts have attempted to identify individual components of the diet that may account for its extraordinary healthfulness, although most scientists believe that the overall diet—not any single component—is likely responsible for these benefits.
The diet certainly has a lot going for it. For one thing, it features very little red meat. I recently shared new information with you regarding the discovery that mammal meat—including red meat like beef, and even “white” meat like pork—is pro-inflammatory in the body. Humans are essentially allergic to a specific protein in mammal meat. So it makes sense that a diet featuring very little of this problematic kind of food may be more healthful.
But the Mediterranean diet also features other components known to be uniquely beneficial. Take olives and extra virgin olive oil, for instance. Olive oil is heart-healthy due to its high content of monounsaturated fats. But it also contains phytonutrient antioxidants. Some scientists believe these account for the unique benefits of olive oil, including possible anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting effects.
And then there are other known beneficial components of the diet, such as fresh herbs, which provide a host of natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. There are also fresh vegetables and fruits, which supply beneficial fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. And let’s not forget whole grains and fish. Fish is a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids; essential nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of. Grains are excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients.
And finally, there’s red wine and grapes. Red wine is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, and research suggests that a particular phytonutrient in red wine and grape skins—resveratrol—may provide some of the diet’s unique benefits. Just recently, for example, scientists at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine reported that resveratrol from wine may benefit the hippocampus; a crucial brain structure that plays an indispensable role in memory, learning and mood.
Working with rats, researcher Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., showed that resveratrol significantly benefits the health of the hippocampus after middle age—which is when both humans and rats often develop signs of declining memory and learning abilities. Rats given resveratrol experienced a near doubling in the growth of new nerves in the hippocampus. Treated rats also had better blood flow in the region, and decreased inflammation. “The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," Shetty said, in a press release. To which I say, bring on the wine and enjoy!
Maheedhar Kodali, Vipan K. Parihar, Bharathi Hattiangady, Vikas Mishra, Bing Shuai, Ashok K. Shetty. Resveratrol Prevents Age-Related Memory and Mood Dysfunction with Increased Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Microvasculature, and Reduced Glial Activation. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 8075 DOI: 10.1038/srep08075