An apple a day keeps the doctor away – this saying existed already long before polyphenols have been identified as possible active ingredients. Today, we know that fruit and vegetables but also tea, cocoa and wine contribute a wealth of polyphenols to our diet with positive health effects. Because of the limited resorption of many polyphenols, there were doubts about their effectiveness, at least when consumed in typical daily amounts. However, now, it is known that often not the polyphenols themselves but their metabolites, which are formed in combination with the intestinal microbiota, are resorbed and physiologically effective.
Wine and sparkling wine contain both polyphenols but also ethanol which act synergistically. Many research activities focus on their positive health effects and “the effect of champagne wine and dementia” was just one of the very many research results that were presented at the 7th International Conference of Polyphenols and Health 2015 last October in Tours.
Approximately 500 participants from 44 countries discussed the latest research results for 4 days. The various interesting presentations showed that polyphenols can contribute to healthy ageing and to the prevention of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, non-alcoholic liver disease and dementia. Based on the research presented, it was obvious that not only the polyphenols alone but their interaction with the gut microbiota is essential for their effects. Here just some of the wine-related topics.
Dr. David Vazour (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwich, UK) administered sparkling wine to mice. His research team could show that an amount equivalent to one glass per day, the polyphenols of sparkling wine – particularly gallic acid, cafteric acid, tyrosol, caffeic acid – would positively affect the spatial working memory of the aged rodents. These beneficial effects of champagne wine on the reversal of the age related cognitive decline might be mediated through modifications (in the protein expression) in the hippocampus.
Prof. Rosa Lamuela-Raventos (University of Barcelona and member of the PREDIMED research team) studied the association between polyphenol intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes within the PREDIMED population. The results showed that a high intake of total polyphenols was related to a reduced diabetes risk. The main sources of flavanone intake was citrus fruit and that of dihydroflavanols and stilbenes was red wine.
Based on the discussions around the presentations of the conference, it was evident that it is too early to recommend a particular dosage of polyphenols or supplements. However, a regular consumption of polyphenol rich foods such as green tea, onions, cocoa, citrus fruits, berries and wine can be recommended.