I briefly discussed the role of resveratrol in disease risk and aging in my blog about the health benefits of red wine. Resveratrol is a polyphenol, phytoestrogen and phytonutrient found in a variety of foods, including grapes, wine, blueberries, cranberries and dark chocolate. I first heard about resveratrol over a decade ago. A friend of mine was taking a resveratrol supplement to help with brain health. Suffice to say, resveratrol has been of interest to scientists for some time.
Although resveratrol has been associated with positive effects on heart health, aging, cancer and brain health, this article is going to focus on the role of resveratrol in cognitive decline.
Resveratrol and Cognitive Decline
An accepted part of aging is the gradual cognitive decline that we all experience. This cognitive decline is at least partly caused by inflammatory markers, which are elevated in the elderly (1). Scientists studied whether or not giving resveratrol to rats could improve the age-related spatial and emotional cognitive impairment (1). Researchers found that giving resveratrol was associated with the inhibition in the production of inflammatory markers, thereby preventing cognitive deficit in the aged rats.
A 2017 study measured the effects of a 200 mg resveratrol supplement on hippocampal structure and connectivity of patients with mild cognitive impairment. As Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, a few changes take place in the brain, one of which is brain atrophy, particularly of the hippocampus. The study found that those in the resevertrol group saw an improvement in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) of the hippocampus, which may slow the decline in this region typically seen in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.
A fourteen week study of post-menopausal women looked for an effect of a daily resveratrol supplement on cognitive performance and cerebrovascular function (3). Women in the resveratrol group saw a 17% increase in cerebrovascular responsiveness (CVR) to both cognitive and hypercapnic stimuli. They also experienced significant improvements in the performance of cognitive tasks in the domain of verbal memory and in overall cognitive performance, both of which were related to the increase in cerebrovascular responsiveness (CVR).
- Resveratrol is a polyphenol, phytoestrogen and phytonutrient found in a variety of foods, including grapes, wine, blueberries, cranberries and dark chocolate.
- Resveratrol has been associated with many health benefits, one of which is an improvement in cognitive decline.
- A study using rats found that a resveratrol supplement was associated with inhibition in the production of inflammatory markers (related to cognitive decline), thereby preventing cognitive deficit in the aged rats.
- Human studies have found that resveratrol supplementation is linked to an improvement in the resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) of the hippocampus, significant improvements in the performance of cognitive tasks in the domain of verbal memory and in overall cognitive performance; all of which may help prevent cognitive decline.
- Gocmez, S. S., Gacar, N., Utkan, T., Gacar, G., Scarpace, P. J., & Tumer, N. (2016). Protective effects of resveratrol on aging-induced cognitive impairment in rats. Neurobiology of learning and memory, 131, 131-136.
- Köbe, T., Witte, A. V., Schnelle, A., Tesky, V. A., Pantel, J., Schuchardt, J. P., … & Flöel, A. (2017). Impact of resveratrol on glucose control, hippocampal structure and connectivity, and memory performance in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Frontiers in neuroscience, 11, 105.
- Evans, H. M., Howe, P. R., & Wong, R. H. (2017). Effects of resveratrol on cognitive performance, mood and cerebrovascular function in post-menopausal women; a 14-week randomised placebo-controlled intervention trial. Nutrients, 9(1), 27.