Cheers! Low Levels Of Alcohol Are Good For The Brain.
Who doesn’t enjoy a great glass of wine? It’s fun to share with a friend; it takes the edge off a long day and can be quite enjoyable. Just think of those deep notes of black cherry and plum, fruity yet not too big with hints of vanilla and oak...you get the picture. Well, as if we needed another reason to have a glass of wine, here’s one. A new study cited in the journal “Scientific Reports” shows that small amounts of alcohol can lower inflammation and aid the brain in clearing away toxic waste products including Beta-amyloid (a protein fragment associated to Alzheimer’s).
In this study Dr. Maiken Nedergaard co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center says they have showed these possible benefits for the first time. In 2012 Dr. Nedergaard coined a term (Glymphatic system). Glial cells are a type of cell found in the brain in abundance. Their significance was not well understood and underestimated until recently. Variations of these cells greatly increase the water permeability of cells allowing for more mixing of cerebral spinal fluid and interstitial fluid. Though active during waking hours these cells become hyperactive during sleep. When we sleep the brain contracts about 15%, this allows a sort of dishwasher effect to occur washing away waste products including those known to cause Alzheimer’s disease. This makes another point of why adequate sleep is so important.
Using mice predisposed to Alzheimer’s they were broken into 3 groups, excessive consumption of alcohol, low use and no alcohol. Whereas excessive consumption is detrimental to overall health as well as brain function, low consumption about the equivalent of 2 drinks per day lowered inflammation and enhanced glymphatic efficiency.
For those who don’t like wine
The benefit of low alcohol consumption does not come from only wine, all consumable alcoholic drinks should work the same. The key is to keep it to approximately, 2 beers, or 2 ounces of spirits. Remember more is not better in fact it is worse, far worse. Let me say here that I am not recommending you start consuming alcohol if you don't already, but for those that do 1-2 drinks is considered safe and healthy for a host of health benefits including increasing HDL levels (good cholesterol).
So, as I hoist a glass of Malbec I say cheers to you!
NCBI.nlm.nih.gov – Glial Cells and Their Function in the Adult Brain
En.wikipedia.org – Glymphatic System
Neuroscience.stanford.edu – The Night Life of the Brain – Maiken Nedergaard
Eurikalert.org – In Wine There’s Health: Low levels of alcohol good for the Brain