Drinking a few glasses of wine a day can keep your brain ‘clean,’ study says

Love mellowing out with a few sips of wine occasionally? Drinking a couple of glasses can help clean your brain from toxins, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center recently conducted an experiment, published in Scientific Reports, to determine how ethanol affects the central nervous system.

To do so, they examined mice and exposed them both to “acute and chronic alcohol,” the authors wrote. They first gave the animals high levels of alcohol and studied their brains over a long period of time. After analyzing the results, they found inflammation, particularly in cells that work with the glymphatic system. It’s responsible for clearing out waste sometimes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Additionally, they discovered the mice’s cognitive and motor abilities were impaired.

Next they served the mice low levels of alcohol, which is the equivalent of two and a half drinks per day. When they observed their brains again, they saw less inflammation and noticed the glymphatic system was more efficient.

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"Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system," coauthor Maiken Nedergaard said in a statement. "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."

They believe their results add to the pool of studies that have already explored the risks and health benefits linked to alcohol, and they hope to further their investigations.

“Studies have shown that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lesser risk of dementia, while heavy drinking for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline,” said Nedergaard. “This study may help explain why this occurs. Specifically, low doses of alcohol appear to improve overall brain health.”

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