Alcohol and your brain

While a couple of glasses of wine can aid in easing the mind after a long day, new research shows that it may actually help clean the mind as well. New studies shows that low levels of alcohol consumption reduce inflammation and helps the brain flush out toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

It is almost common sense that high doses of alcohol can damage the brain, as well us other organs in the body, but in recent studies we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health.

The research focuses on the glymphatic system which is the brain’s unique cleaning process that was first described by Dr. Nedergaard. They showed how cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is pumped into brain tissue and flushes away waste, including the proteins beta amyloid and tau that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Subsequent research has shown that the glymphatic system is more active while we sleep, can be damaged by stroke and trauma, and improves with exercise.

The new study, which was conducted with mice. The mice that were exposed to low levels of alcohol consumption, given approximately 2 ½ drinks per day (relative to their size), actually showed less inflammation in the brain and their glymphatic system was more efficient in moving CSF through the brain and removing waste, compared to control mice who were not exposed to alcohol. The low dose animals’ performance in the cognitive and motor tests was identical to the controls.

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