MARTINI MONDAY – (enjoy the first evening of the
week with a cool cocktail and a easy snack!)
How’s about a little brain power people? Alcohol good for the brain? No, it’s not quite as dramatic as that, though scientists are reasonably sure moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of Alzheimer�s disease and other forms of dementia.
From article: http://www.aces.edu/dept/extcomm/newspaper/feb7a02.html
How? They’re not certain, although some suspect the benefits may stem from alcohol’s effect in expanding arteries and aiding blood flow.
“We do know that alcohol is able to prevent arteries from becoming narrower,” says Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist and Auburn University professor of nutrition. “And so the benefits may stem from the fact that the moderate alcohol consumption enhances blood and oxygen flow to the brain.”
The latest findings are from a study, conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, between 1990 and 1999. It involved almost 5,400 individuals older than 55, none of whom displayed signs of dementia when the study began.
Of these participants, slightly more than 1,400 claimed to be moderate drinkers, while approximately 2,700 others claimed they consumed less than one drink a day. Approximately 1,110 participants were teetotalers.
In the course of the study, 146 participants developed Alzheimer�s disease and another 51 got some other form of age-related dementia. Based on these numbers, the overall risk of developing dementia was 3.7 percent.
However, the study revealed that while the risk was about 4 percent among nondrinkers, light drinkers and heavy drinkers, only 2.4 percent of moderate drinkers developed dementia.
When the data were adjusted to account for participants’ age, sex, blood pressure, tobacco use and other factors associated with mental decline, moderate drinkers, compared with nondrinkers, faced only 58 percent of the risk associated with dementia.
The study revealed moderate drinkers also faced a lower risk of vascular dementia, which occurs when blockages of the blood vessels within the brain cause recurrent minor strokes that undermine cognitive ability.
Despite the study findings, Keith says alcohol consumption is an issue that should be handled with extreme care.
While it is apparently true moderate alcohol consumption offers long-term health benefits, the window of opportunity is a very narrow, he says. Any alcohol consumption beyond 3 glasses a day would be considered heavy drinking that ultimately may undermine cognitive ability in older men. In addition, many people who consume alcohol even in the moderate amounts deemed healthy by the study may face an impaired ability to drive a car, thereby placing themselves and others at risk.
“It doesn’t make sense for someone to say, I’m going to drink one or two glasses of alcohol a day to improve my health and then endanger their own lives and those of others when they get behind the wheel of their car to drive home,” Keith says. “And besides, among some people, that one- or two-glass daily regimen could quickly develop into a five- or six-a-day habit.”
“Yes, there is good evidence that alcohol protects you against some forms of heart disease and even dementia, but too much of it is definitely bad for you,” he adds.
This, Keith believes, is one reason many government agencies have been reluctant to embrace alcohol as a health safeguard.
The Erasmus Medical Center study is one of several recent studies that have associated health benefits with moderate alcohol consumption.
Previous studies also have shown that a couple of drinks a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. Experts attribute this to alcohol’s effect in raising HDL, the so-called good, or protective, cholesterol. Phytochemicals, abundantly present in red wine, also are believed to provide an added safeguard by protecting arterial walls against damage from arterial plaque that typically occurs in old age.
So let’s make our brain strong!
12.5ml Sweet vermouth
Dash of creme de cacao