The health benefits and risks of alcohol consumption have been subject to much debate, and some of the studies contradict each other.
But now not one, but two recent scientific studies, published in very well respected publications, have found that moderate drinking improves health outcomes – if you’re above a certain age. That’s right: wine can benefit older people.
In the first study, published in BMC Geriatrics, researchers investigated the association between alcohol drinking patterns and cognitive function in Japanese people ages 75 and older. The purpose of the study was to identify factors related to cognitive decline and implement preventive measures to maintain cognitive function.
They found that moderate and consistent wine consumption was associated with higher cognitive function. Other types of alcohol did not have this positive correlation. The researchers hypothesized that Resveratrol, a type of polyphenol in wine, may have a “direct neuroprotective effect” on cognitive function. They also suggested that the social aspect of drinking wine may be a contributing factor.
“Today, the risk of drinking is emphasized, and healthcare professionals often recommended that people decrease alcohol consumption or stop drinking overall. If drinking plays a protective role in cognitive function in older people, it may be beneficial to provide treatment and health guidance that respects their lifestyle and quality of life, rather than uniformly recommending that individuals decrease or stop drinking,” the investigators concluded.
The second study, published in the Lancet and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was a global investigation of the health effects of alcohol on different populations.
This research also found that older drinkers of alcohol have better general health than nondrinkers or younger people. Older drinkers are more likely to have chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. The investigators found that “small amounts of alcohol consumption are associated with improved health outcomes in populations that predominantly face a high burden of cardiovascular diseases, particularly older adults in many world regions.”
In contrast, the researchers found that people under the age of 40 who drank alcohol were more likely to have adverse health benefits, since they were more prone to risky behavior when drinking, such as driving, self-harm, and interpersonal violence, which increases the chance of injury.
What Does This Mean for Us?
These two studies are welcome news for those in or approaching their golden years. Alcohol, particularly wine, can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Wine can benefit older people.
That doesn’t mean that younger people can’t enjoy and reap benefits from wine.
But as – ahem – someone getting up there in years, it’s kind of heartening to read that wine isn’t bad for me to drink. Not that I needed that extra justification. But maybe soon we’ll see “glass of Chardonnay as needed ” on my next medical prescription!
We hope that you find the news that wine can benefit older people interesting and a bit fun.
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