The quest for longevity has long been on people’s minds, prompting an abundance of research on the effects of food and diet on the human lifespan; but unlike the usual recommendations — eat kale, sip unsweetened green tea, and such — here is one you might not have trouble following. According to recent research from the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), drinking coffee and wine could help you live longer.
The 90+ Study evaluated more than 1,600 people over the age of 90 for their lifestyle habits and other qualities that might have contributed to their longevity. Participants were visited every six months, when they were given various neurological, neuropsychological, cognitive, and physical tests. Researchers also collected information about the participants’ diets, lifestyles, and medical histories, among other things.
Two of the habits that helped preserve lives the most? Drinking alcohol and coffee. Yes, you read that right — those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee every day were likely to live longer than those who abstained. Those who consumed about two glasses daily of beer or wine were 18 percent more likely to live longer, while coffee drinkers were 10 percent more likely to outlive their peers.
“I have no explanation for it,” admitted Dr. Claudia Kawas, a key researcher from the study, at a conference, “but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.”
So should we all be drinking more coffee and wine? While that would be great news, the research may not be as definitive as it seems.
“Most studies about alcohol consumption, including The 90+ Study, are observational, so we can only say that something about drinking is associated with health and longevity,” registered dietitian Jennifer Markowitz told The Daily Meal. “I’d be curious to see if the coffee and alcohol drinkers shared other important habits or lifestyle factors that might also play into their longevity.”
In other words, it might not be the booze and coffee that’s helping people live longer. That being said, the two substances do have some considerable health benefits.
“Wine and coffee are packed with antioxidants which are known to protect our bodies from damage caused by free radicals,” explained registered dietitian Keri Gans to The Daily Meal. “Research on antioxidants has shown several health benefits, including the possibility they may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve cognitive function, decrease risk of dementia, and lower the risk of heart disease.”
Moderate drinking can be beneficial according to other studies — so long as it’s moderate. Red wine in particular is known to have upwards of 20 health benefits when consumed in moderation.