Drink A Beer To Ward Off Dementia

Many a beer drinker has heard about the health benefits of red wine over the past few years. In fact, there have been so many studies on the supposed elixir of life that there’s a good chance some beer drinkers, looking to confer the same benefits, have converted into wine connoisseurs. But convert not my fellow beer drinker, for beer also confers some health benefits, according to a new study, which found a compound within can ward off dementia and other cognitive decline.

There are a number of paths that lead to cognitive decline, from tau proteins and amyloid plaques, which are suspected to cause Alzheimer’s disease, to aging. Regardless of which path a person finds themselves on, they all lead to the death of brain cells from oxidative stress — a biological imbalance that occurs during the metabolism of oxygen, and results in an excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS, byproducts of this metabolism), which damage cells. Oxidative stress has been implicated in all sorts of health problems, from Alzheimer’s and cancer to heart failure and infection.

Researchers from the University of Lanzhou, China, however, found in their new study that the flavonoid xanthohumol (Xn) may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia and other cognitive decline. The antioxidant, which is found in beer’s hops — those flowers that are added to beer for flavor, giving it its bitterness and tanginess (think most new, dark craft beers) — has been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-oxidation, and heart-protective properties, as well as the ability to prevent inflammation, Healthline reported. For the study, the researchers isolated Xn molecules and tested them on the brain cells of lab rats, finding they were able to neutralize ROS by encouraging the production of neuroprotective molecules.

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