Another Possible Benefit of Drinking Red Wine

August 21, 2012

If you thought drinking red wine could make you a little tipsy, well, yes it can do that, but over time, the opposite might actually be true. A new study shows that resveratrol, a chemical compound found in red wine, might improve balance.  Scientists at the American Chemical Society have presented research showing that vino can actually help improve senior mobility and prevent falls.

Lead researcher Dr. Jane Cavanaugh, of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, said: “Our study suggests a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies seen in our aging population.

Researchers fed young and old laboratory mice a resveratrol rich diet for eight weeks.   Periodically, they measured the mice’ ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times each took a misstep. At first, older mice had a much tougher time keeping their balance, but in the 4th week, the senior mice were able to stay on the beam longer.

Falling is a major problem for seniors as they age. One in three Americans over the age of 65 have trouble walking and maintaining their balance, according to the American Geriatrics Society.  Research at Cayuga Medical Center showed that one-quarter of adults who experience a hip fracture died the following year.

There is one hiccup.  An average sized 150 pound person would have to drink 700 four ounce glasses of red wine to get enough resveretrol for any benefits.  But don’t be discouraged, scientists are looking at ways to create man-made compounds that can mimic resveratrol’s effects without requiring such a massive dose.

Past research has also suggested that red wine can lead to a longer life.