Researchers from the University of Reading and University of East Anglia in England found lab rats who were fed with measured sparkling wine improved their performance in memory tests.
In the world of bottled spirits, red wine often gets the most acclaim, hoarding the spotlight for its resveratrol, a potent ingredient that improves mental health. Scientists have been trying to optimize resveratrol's potential and soon, a single genetically modified organism (GMO) super tomato could be packed with as much resveratrol as there are in 50 bottles of red wine. This time, red wine's bubbly cousin, champagne, is thrown into the spotlight for its potential to improve memory and prevent dementia.
Researchers found that champagne is packed with high amounts of phenolics. This compound can be found in Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the two red grapes used to create champagne. Findings showed that phenolic aids in the modulation of signals in the cortex and hippocampus, parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. As a person ages, the proteins in these brain parts deteriorate. Phenolics help in the restoration of proteins to regular levels.
"However, our research shows that champagne, which lacks flavonoids, is also capable of influencing brain function through the actions of smaller phenolic compounds, previously thought to lack biological activity," said study author Jeremy Spencer from the University of Reading.
Spencer, who teaches food and nutritional sciences at the University stressed responsible alcohol intake and highlighted that their research made use of very low quantity of champagne to take effect, approximately two glasses per week. Co-author Dr. David Vauzour added that they will look for methods on how to translate the findings in humans.
On Nov. 9, the National Health Service (NHS) in England warned people to thread carefully, saying "A slightly improved maze performance in a small number of rats does not necessarily translate into humans having a reduced risk of dementia from drinking champagne." NHS stressed the known dangers of large alcohol intake and mentioned other cheaper, healthier alternatives for increased flavonoid intake such as peanuts, blueberries and parsley.
The original study was conducted in 2013 but has recently resurfaced in social media. Despite great success in lab experiments involving animal subjects, it's a long way to go before doctors prescribe reaching for a bottle of bubbly to increase memory. The 2013 study was published in the Antioxidants and Redox Signaling journal.