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Science Has It: Drinking Red Wine Enhances Exercise Performance

Science Has It: Drinking Red Wine Enhances Exercise Performance

Can it really be true? You mean, you can just have a glass of red wine and avoid those sweat drenching sessions at the gym? Well, not exactly, but recent studies have shown that red wine does contain one ingredient which has revealed certain health benefits in recent tests. Let us have a look at what these experiments show and look at the pros and cons of that seductive glass of red wine.

“I drink red wine on ice to water it down.” -Diane Keaton

First, the good news

We need antioxidants because they can neutralize the free radicals in the body, which damage healthy cells. Fruit and vegetables have generous supplies. But red wine also has quite a few. These are called polyphenols, one of which is resveratrol. This latter one has attracted scientists’ attention. Why?

A University of Alberta study showed that high doses of resveratrol produced similar benefits for the heart and muscular strength as physical exercise.

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Now imagine older and disabled people who just cannot get the benefits of physical exercise. If they get enough resveratrol through consuming red wine, nuts, raspberries and mulberries, then that would be a great boost for their health. Researchers say that it might even be possible to take a supplement containing the correct dosage of resveratrol but more studies need to be done.

If you are a teetotaller and want to get the same benefits for your heart, muscles and joints, then try red grape juice instead.

Yes, alcohol in small quantities can help to keep cholesterol levels right, prevent blood clots and preserve arteries.

“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” -Martin Luther

Now, the bad news

Well, not bad news exactly but just a few notes to put all this research into perspective so that you do not abandon the gym for your local wine bar.

Most of the research on resveratrol has been done on animals and in test tubes, and they are not yet able to judge the effects on humans in the long term.

The effects on older people are not yet proved. Dr. Richard Semba, from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, carried out research on 800 senior citizens in the Chianti region in Italy, where red wine is plentiful. But after 11 years, he came to the conclusion that those with higher levels of resveratrol were not protected in any significant way from dying of cancer or heart disease. Those with lower levels had better heart health, he found.

What’s the take home message?

Yes, a glass of red wine may benefit your health. But alcohol consumption in great quantities can lead to all sorts of problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity. It can become an addiction (as if you did not know!) and aggravate health problems. Alcohol is basically a neurotoxin which can poison brain cells and damage your delicate hormonal balance.

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According to WHO, heavy drinking kills one person every 10 seconds. If you do the math, that is 3,153,600 deaths a year.

One solution in avoiding all that alcohol is to get the resveratrol through the use of supplements. But these cannot really replace all the benefits of a good workout. In fact, you need some of the bad free radicals released by exercise to help your body to recover and help you improve your performance. After all, exercise will make your heart stronger and that puts less pressure on the arteries, which helps to lower blood pressure.

The Harvard Medical School recommends a glass of red wine, rather than taking all those resveratrol supplements. This is the best way to enhance your exercise regime and it can also have anti-aging properties.

Another great benefit of having a glass of red wine after your workout is that it can help digestion and add to the good bacteria in your intestines. In addition, you will be able to considerably reduce your risk of getting cancer and it will help your mind to stay alert.

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That glass of red wine can also help to soothe those sore muscles and make you less sensitive to pain. As in all things, moderation is the key.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” -Oscar Wilde

Let us know in the comments whether a glass of red wine has really helped your exercise regime.

Featured photo credit: Wine static/Angelo Amboldi via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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