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  • The Art of Becoming Smarter

    The Art of Becoming Smarter

    Kay Pfaltz

    At Basic Necessities it starts with wine. Even though analyzing wine seems antithetical to the French mentality from which I learned to love and understand wine, I nevertheless tell my class to examine each wine (observing color, sniffing, swirling and only then tasting) for in drinking we kill off brain cells, while the art of studying something ‘grows’ them. Are you with me?

    So consider the latest theory, that of the herd of antelope. The herd can only run as fast as its slowest member. And this slowest member, at the back of the herd, is the one likely to be eaten by the panther, thus, by natural selection and survival of the fittest, allowing for the strengthening of the overall gene pool. The slowest antelope is culled and the herd now moves faster. Still with me?

    Now, the following may be a syllogistic or perhaps more accurately an enthymematic stretch, but let’s consider the question of your brain cells. All two of them. Since your brain can only think at the speed of its slowest cells…and alcohol kills brain cells, it follows that in drinking we’re killing off the slowest cells. Thus making ourselves smarter.

    Alright, if the above rhetoric didn’t convince, let me ask if you’ve ever felt like conversation just flowed after a glass or two of wine? Ever wondered if indeed you really were that much wittier with the ancient elixir coursing inside? Well, turns out that just maybe you’ll wake the next morning and realize it wasn’t all a figment of your imagination. Studies have shown that there is a connection between the level of polyphenols in the brain and the brain’s activity. Polyphenols increase the brain’s activity by relaxing the vessels, making them wider and thus increasing their capacity. This serves not only to pump more blood to the head but also to increase the amount of oxygen and other nutrients which are necessary to the brain. Resveratrol, found in red wine, is a specific example of a polyphenol. And one of the foods with the highest polyphenol content of all? Dark chocolate.

    To kill off sluggish brain cells and increase polyphenol content, try:

    Château Gaudou, ‘Tradition’ 2013 – From Cahors in southwest France where people commonly live to be over hundred, the ‘Tradition’ is a blend with Malbec and Tannat, grapes exceptionally high in polyphenols, hence the longevity in the area. These wines help explain the French Paradox whereby the French habitually eat foie gras, cassoulet and other fatty foods and still live longer, and with better heart health than we Americans do.