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Study: Resveratrol may protect against hearing loss, cognitive decline

March 1, 2013

Antioxidants are often cited as some of the healthiest compounds around, and recent research suggests one in particular may offer a long list of benefits for seniors. The study, conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, found that resveratrol, which is commonly found in grapes and red wine, may not only play a role in preventing hearing loss but could also stave off cognitive decline. 

The study
To measure the effects of resveratrol, researchers looked at how rats exposed to loud noises reacted when given resveratrol. They found that subjects that were given the compound before being exposed to loud noises were less likely to develop hearing problems than those that were given no such treatment. This is especially important because scientists say that hearing loss is often tied to greater difficulties with sleep, communication and even cognitive function.  

"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," study lead author Michael D. Seidman said. "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."

What does it mean?
The results are just the latest to highlight the role that diet and nutrition play in healthy aging. While the findings certainly don't insinuate that seniors should drink red wine in excess to reap health benefits, they do indicate that small changes to lifestyle can make a big difference. In fact, this is not the first batch of research to indicate that antioxidants, and resveratrol in particular, should become a staple of healthy senior living. Specifically, a 2011 study from the University of Connecticut found that the antioxidant also plays a vital role in cardiovascular health. 

What are the other antioxidants?
While resveratrol has attracted a lot of attention recently, it is not the only antioxidant that offers considerable health benefits. For instance, lycopene, which is commonly found in tomatoes, has shown promise in preventing strokes, according to a 2012 study. Furthermore, common nutrients, such as vitamin C and vitamin E are known as antioxidants and provide many health benefits in their own right.