In the 15th century, when Europeans first began moving people and goods across the Atlantic, a microscopic stowaway somehow made its way to the caves and monasteries of Bavaria. The stowaway, a yeast that may have been transported from a distant shore on a piece of wood or in the stomach of a fruit fly, was destined for great things.
In the dank caves and monastery cellars where 15th century brewmeisters stored their product, the newly arrived yeast fused with a distant relative, the domesticated yeast used for thousands of years to make leavened bread and ferment wine and beer. Now an international team of researchers believes it has identified the wild yeast that, in the age of sail, apparently traveled more than 7,000 miles to those Bavarian caves to eventually help create the $250 billion a year lager beer industry. Geneticist Todd Hittinger says, "People have been hunting for this thing for decades."
While some people like to study it, most people like to drink it–but how can you tell if you’re drinking too much? Psychologists have discovered that some people continue to drink heavily because of perceived positive effects, DESPITE experiencing negative effects such as hangovers, fights and regrettable sexual situations. In these people, boosts of courage, chattiness and other social benefits of drinking outweigh its harms. Psychologist Kevin King says, "This study suggest why some people can experience a lot of bad consequences of drinking but not change their behavior. People think, ‘It’s not going to happen to me’ or ‘I’ll never drink that much again.’ They do not seem to associate their own heavy drinking with negative consequences."
Researchers call this cognitive-dissonance reasoning. It leads to people, on the morning after a night of heavy partying, telling themselves "I’ll never drink that much again" or "I threw up that one time, but that’s not me–I won’t do it again." Or, it may be that once a bad consequence of drinking happens, people think that it wasn’t really as bad as they initially thought.
Not all drinking news is depressing: We’ve told you the benefits of red wine and that coffee may be the drink of choice to ward off Alzheimer’s (especially if you drink it out of a Dreamland Festival mug!) Researchers now think that grape juice may be just as good for keeping a healthy brain.
Researchers have found that a natural antioxidant in grape seeds may help prevent the development or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. When scientists administered grape seed polyphenolic extracts to mice genetically determined to develop memory deficits similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease, they found that Alzheimer’s disease memory loss was substantially reduced after treatment.
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