Red wine has long known to be good for your heart. But new research shows it may also be good for your ears and your brain as well.
Researchers with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have determined that resveratrol — a beneficial compound in red grapes and red wine that has been shown to reduce cardiovascular risks — has the potential to protect people from age-related hearing loss and declines in mental health.
The findings, published online in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, are based on a laboratory study of rats that found they were less likely to suffer the long-term effects of noise-induced hearing loss when given resveratrol before being exposed to loud noise for a long period of time.
"Our latest study focuses on resveratrol and its effect on bioinflammation, the body's response to injury and something that is believed to be the cause of many health problems including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, aging and hearing loss," said lead researcher Michael D. Seidman, director of the Division of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.
"Resveratrol is a very powerful chemical that seems to protect against the body's inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition, and hearing loss."
Hearing loss strikes about one in five Americans, most often as they age. Noise-induced hearing loss has also become a growing health problem among American military personnel, with more than 12 percent returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with significant hearing loss, the researchers noted.
Noise-induced hearing loss not only affects the ability to hear, but can also cause difficulties with sleep and communication, and raises the risk for heart disease.
Resveratrol is a member of a group of plant compounds called polyphenols that are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown they can protect the body against the kind of damage linked to increased risk for conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
The Henry Ford study was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Deafness and Communicative Disorders.
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