The occasional glass of wine or whiskey may help you remove toxins from your brain, according to the latest research. Consuming low levels of alcohol brings down inflammation and helps the brain clear away toxins, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The findings, published in the journal Scientific Report, adds to the growing evidence that lower levels of drinking may be actually beneficial to health.
“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,” said lead author Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The research studied the impact of alcohol on the glymphatic system, a recently discovered clearance pathway for the brain and spinal cord. Researchers tested the impact of both, acute and prolonged exposure to alcohol, on the brains of mice. They observed high levels of a molecular marker for inflammation in the mice which were given high levels of alcohol for a long period of time. The mice also showed signs of impairment of cognitive abilities, proving that too much alcohol could have detrimental effects on the brain.
However, the mice that were exposed to low levels of alcohol consumption actually showed less inflammation in the brain. Their glymphatic system was more efficient in moving the cerebral spinal fluid through the brain and removing toxic matter, compared to mice who were not exposed to alcohol at all.
Interestingly, the glymphatic system’s cleaning process was first explained by Nedergaad and her team in 2012. They described how the glymphatic system utilizes cerebral spinal fluid to flush away waste from brain tissue, including proteins beta-amyloid and tau that are linked with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.