We’ve all heard and read dozens of stories on how the alcohol consumption is devasting the brain. Now, a recent study on mice conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester showed that a moderate alcohol consumption is actually beneficial for the brain’s health as it has anti-inflammatory effects and eliminates the metabolic residues.
2.5 drinks a day for maintaining your brain’s health
Maiken Nedergaard, the author of the study, observed that the equivalent of 2.5 drinks per day is activating the brain’s glymphatic system’s productivity. The glymphatic system is like a network of tiny vessels involved in the elimination of residues out of the brain.
“Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system (…) in this study, we have shown for the first time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneficial to brain health, namely, they improve the brain’s ability to remove waste,” said Dr. Nedergaard.
The brain flushes out waste material through a network of tiny vessels
Until this study, scientists couldn’t explain how are the residues from the brain eliminated into the lymphatic system. Now, scientists found out that very small vessels, that are attached to the brain’s blood vessels, connect the brain to the cerebrospinal fluid bypassing the brain’s barrier tissue known as parenchyma.
Afterwards, the vessels drain into the lymphatic system.
Getting mice drunk in the name of science
To conclude that a moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial for the brain, the scientists had to test the alcohol’s effects on mice’s brains. Thus, the researchers got mice drunk before studying them.
The scientists split the mice into 4 categories, one representing a control group, while the others received increasing quantities of alcohol.
The most active glymphatic system – 40% – was observed in mice which only got low alcohol doses, while the mice which got the highest dose of alcohol presented a reduction in the glymphatic system function by 28%. All the results were drawn in comparison with the control group of mice.
Even though further studies are needed, scientists believe that low to moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial for the brain.