In wine, there’s health: Low levels of alcohol good for the brain

 

While a couple of glasses of wine can help clear the mind after a busy day, new research shows that it may actually help clean the mind as well. The new study shows that low levels of alcohol consumption tamp down inflammation and helps the brain clear away toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system. However, a study shows for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health and it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste.

The study points to the health benefits of low doses of alcohol. While excessive consumption of alcohol is a well-documented health hazard, many studies have linked lower levels of drinking with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as a number of cancers.

The brain’s unique cleaning process was first described by Nedergaard (lead author of the study) and her colleagues in 2012 who focussed mainly on the glymphatic system. They showed how the 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.

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