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March 12, 2018

Drinking alcohol could clear your brain waste

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If you're partial to a drink or two, you will love the results of a recent study; researchers have found that a "low" intake of alcohol may help to cleanse the brain.
friends making a toast
Researchers shed light on how low levels of drinking might improve brain health.
In a mouse study, scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that drinking the equivalent to around 2.5 alcoholic drinks per day could reduce brain inflammation.

It was also found to increase the function of the glymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste products from the brain.

High alcohol exposure, however, was found to impair glymphatic function and increase brain inflammation.

Lead study author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at URMC, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

It should come as no surprise that excess alcohol intake can harm health. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) report that alcohol is a contributor to "more than 200 health conditions" and causes around 3.3 million deaths across the globe each year.

Increasingly, however, research has suggested that a little alcohol may do us good.

A study reported by Medical News Today last year, for example, suggested that moderate drinking could reduce the risk of diabetes, while other research linked moderate alcohol intake with better cognitive functioning.

The new study provides further evidence of the potential brain benefits of moderate drinking, after finding that a couple of drinks every day could help to clear the brain of toxins.


Glymphatic function improved
The researchers came to their findings by assessing the effects of acute and chronic alcohol exposure on the glymphatic system of mice.

First described by Dr. Nedergaard and colleagues in 2012, the glymphatic system is a brain-cleaning process wherein cerebral spinal fluid is "pumped" into the brain, where it removes potentially harmful waste products.

These waste products include beta-amyloid and tau proteins, the accumulation of which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
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