No one in their right mind would ever recommend regular binge-drinking sessions – once a week is more than enough of that, thanks.
But new research suggests that moderate boozing may actually be good for your brain. Now bear with us on this before you start.
According to a student from the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, moderate alcohol intake has been shown to support brain health.
Consuming small amounts of alcohol can help by reducing inflammation and also flushing out metabolic byproducts like protein plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system,” lead author Maiken Nedergaard, MD, DMSc, said.
“However, in this study, we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste.”
The study, published in Scientific Reports, showed that alcohol consumption of around 2.5 drinks a day provided a boost to the brain’s glymphatic system, which is responsible for clearing waste fluids around the brain.
Mice were tested on as part of the experiment, with various mice test subjets injected with either a low (0.5 g/kg), intermediate (1.5 g/kg), or high (4 g/kg) dose of ethanol.
That equates to about 44 milliliters (1.4 ounces), 133 ml (4.5 oz), or 354 ml (12 oz) of pure alcohol for a 70-kilogram (154-pound) human.
A tracer was then administered to the brain so the flow of cerebrospinal fluid could be observed.
After around 45 minutes, researchers found that the mice in the low-dose group had an average 40 percent increase in glymphatic flow, compared to mice given a non-alcoholic control liquid.
It’s probably important to drink in moderation though – the mice on the high or intermediate injections enjoyed 34 percent and 28 percent reductions in glymphatic function, respectively. Which is bad.
As part of the experiment, researchers then gave a different set of mice the same dose for 30 days and examined their brains. The test mice on the losw dose showed improved glymphatic circulation though not as dramatic.
Those on the medium dose experienced a decline of 19 per cent. No mice were tested on the high dose after previous studies revealed a mortality rate of around 430 per cent.
Though not designed to assess the longer term consequences of alcohol on the brain, the figures do suggest that beer or glass of wine at the end of a busy day may not be as bad as first thought.
Cheers to that!