Drinking Alcohol May Be The Key To Improved Brain Health

You have always been told that drinking alcohol will have a negative impact on your brain, memory, and longevity, right? Well, what about if we told you that there is new research that says that drinking a couple of standard drinks every day can be beneficial for your brain’s health, productivity and longevity?

When we heard about this, half the office was out the door to the closest bar to get drunk, hoping to become a little smarter, even before reading the whole article. However, if you do want to consider taking up drinking as a way to freshen up your mind, read on.

Drinking May Be Good For Your Brain Health

What Did The Research Find?

Maiken Nedergaard from the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Rochester headed a research study which observed the effects of alcohol on the glymphatic function in mice. This study was published in Scientific Reports and was designed to help us understand how the brain helps reduce inflammation and flush the metabolic byproducts of the brain. This would have been helpful for those with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases because these illnesses produce protein plaques in the brain, causing cognitive decline.

Nedergaard stated that “Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system. 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 results of this study found that alcohol consumption analogous in humans of about 2.5 standard drinks a day helps boost the brain’s glymphatic system efficiency and productivity.

For those who aren’t aware, the lymphatic system is the brain’s waste-management system which includes a network of vessels that are found in the brains tightly controlled fluid environment.

How Does This Research Help Us Better Understand Our Brains?

Before this study, we were unaware of how the waste molecules that are produced around the outside of the brain cells are ejected from the parenchyma. The parenchyma is a sealed-off tissue area of the brain which was thought to prevent fluid exchange. However, now it is seen that some well-hidden channels around the blood vessels of the brain help drain the metabolic byproducts from the parenchyma to the lymphatic vessels of the head and neck via the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) ventricles.

An interesting find in this study provides a vital link between getting adequate sleep and improved neurological health because the glymphatic system is most active during sleep.

Glymaphatic System

How Was The Research Conducted?

This research into alcohol consumption and its affect on brain health used mice that were injected with different amounts of ethanol and observed via a brain Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

The dosage of the mice was as follows:

  • Low dose had 0.5g/kg of ethanol
  • Intermediate dose had 1.5g/kg of ethanol
  • High dose had 4g/kg of ethanol

The brain PET scan required a nonreactive tracer compound injected into the brain to help the researchers map out the flow of the CSF after the administration of the alcohol.

The results showed that after 45 minutes, the mice who had intermediate and high doses of alcohol had a 34% and 28% decline in glymphatic function, respectively. However, the low dose mice were found to experience an increase in the glymphatic flow of 40%.

How Did The Alcohol Help Remove Brain Garbage Over A Month?

Due to the high mortality rate for mice on high doses of alcohol, only low and intermediate doses were administered to the mice in the second phase of the research which recorded the findings over 30 days.

The conclusion was that the intermediate dose mice had a decline in the glymphatic flow of 19% while the low dose mice had improved glymphatic flow, just not as dramatic as the phase one results and similar to the control.

Should You Drink Two Drinks Every Night?

Of course, for medical purposes right? Well, if you are itching to grab a drink or two after work every day, you should understand that this was only one study into this topic which did not take into account long-term exposure of alcohol on the brain. It should also be known that no human trials have been conducted and you will only have your own assessment on if it works for you.

Should You Drink Two Drinks A Day

But either way, it gives us a great excuse to sit back a pour ourselves a cold one every evening.

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Michelle is the senior most expert who writes for this website. After completing her graduation and 10+ years of practice, Michelle has been involved and known for a lot of her philanthropy work. Michelle loves spending time researching and writing her papers. She occasionally writes for us and we are extremely proud to have her as one of our editors. Follow me on Linkedin