With the Christmas season upon us, it’s time to enjoy a glass of your favorite wine over dinner with friends, family and loved ones. What you may not realize, however, is that glass of wine could be contributing to your overall longevity!
A team of researchers out of the University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders revealed the results of a well-known study commonly referred to as the ‘90+ Study’. In an effort to better understand what lifestyle habits may contribute to or hinder our longevity, the team set out to study a long list of habits and lifestyle choices, assessing the impact that each may have on our overall health and well-being. In doing so, they are able to predict whether these choices may add years to our lives or rob us of valuable time on this planet.
The participants of this study were all participants of a former study called the Leisure World Cohort Study (LWCS) which began in 1981. The LWCS included a total of 13,979 residents of a retirement community in southern California called Leisure World Laguna Hills. Data was collected on the residences between 1981 and 1998 through mailed health surveys, death certificate, hospital records and more. This helped to establish a better understanding of the overall health of the residents, and what struggles they were more likely to face during the aging process.
The researchers in the 90+ Study then connected with 14,000 of the LWCS participants, visiting with them every 6 months for a thorough examination including neurological and neuropsychological testing. They also collected information about their activities, diet, medications, and medical history. By compiling all of this information, they were then able to assess the data and identify patterns. What factors appeared to improve longevity? What habits were closely associated with a decline in overall health and wellness including the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses?
The study concluded that those who consume a ‘moderate amount’ of alcohol actually live longer than those who abstain from it altogether. The specification that it must be a moderate amount is important, as we live in a society that encourages excessive consumption in many situations. In fact, a recent report highlights alcohol abuse as contributing to the overall decline in U.S. life expectancy. So, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner but don’t overindulge!
While these studies discuss alcohol in general, research shows that not all alcohol is created equally when it comes to health benefits. A single glass of red wine has been shown to provide the same benefits to an hour at the gym. This sets wine, specifically red wine, apart from beer and spirits.
“The vast majority of research points to the polyphenols in red wine – not white – being the beneficial component,” explained registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen. “White wine is made by removing the skin of the grapes before fermentation, which is where most of the phytochemical compounds are found. So, if you’re drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle, red is the better choice.”
As you’re making your holiday plans in the coming weeks, don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine! After all, the research is encouraging you to enjoy it – you’re just prioritizing your health!
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