Food, glorious food. NEW Studies promoting red wine and chocolate for unexpected uses

One of my favorite phenomenons is an unexpected stroke of brilliance from a most unlikely source.

A couple of awesomesauce items came out of the 244thNational Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. I picture with suspicion such conferences proffering our nation the the latest results culled from ongoing animal testing of synthetics intended as food additives, eyelash lengtheners or weight loss supplements. To my delight, the chemists have uncovered new truths about the natural world–significantly, the yummy natural world.

I’m posting this because I love food, but more importantly, so much of what we need to survive and thrive in this world has always been with us, growing somewhere ready for the observant to harvest, test, and apply in the the appropriate setting. (I sounded just a wee Taoist there, didn’t I?)

I say awesome “sauce” specifically, because red wine has a new purpose. While getting old used to require an exchange of alcohol for lemon water and chocolate for dry biscuits, we can raise a toast to the future with the decadence of emperors past.

Red wine has been found to decrease your chance of falling down. (What? I always thought it the opposite.) The antioxident in red wine we all know and love for its ability to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, slash the risk of heart disease and certain cancers–resveratrol–could actually decrease  an aging person’s risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls,” said Jane E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

This is bigger news than you think; One in three older Americans have difficulty with balance or walking, according to the American Geriatrics Society. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among people older than 65.

Pour your mom a nice cabernet and tell her you love her.

But wait, there’s more! Feeling down, depressed, no longer finding pleasure in your favorite activities? This year’s chemical exposition also featured studies indicating some flavors bearing a striking chemical similarity to valproic acid, a widely used prescription mood-stabilizing drug used to smooth out the mood swings of people with manic-depressive disorder and related conditions (sold under brand names that include Depakene, Depakote and Stavzor.)

“The large body of evidence that chemicals in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, teas and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids could well be mood-enhancers encourages the search for other mood modulators in food,” noted Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D., at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and the Chemistry Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Her group presented the study of more than 1,700 substances that make up the flavors of common foods at the American Chemical Society Exposition.

Food has and will always be our best and first course of “medicine” for most of what ails us. One may argue we’ve known of these resources for thousands of years (hey thanks, Chinese medicine!) but the diligent pursuit of synthetic alternatives has unraveled much of how we now approach healing. These scientists in search of new uses for familiar, easy-to-grow, natural resources are on the right path.