The Right Dose Of Alcohol May Actually “Clean” Your Brain:
Here we go again! Alcohol and the health space have an increasingly love/hate relationship, that’s becoming more hate/hate as time passes.
One study after another comes out; 2 Drinks a day is safe. Then 1. Then none. Then,
Well, to add more fuel to the fire Stanton Peele started awhile back,
A team of Danish researchers hanging out on the canals of Copenhagen getting hammered on Tuborg came up with a great new idea.
Alcohol is actually beneficial to you, and it just might reduce one of the conditions we can’t yet fix…
So First The Cautions:
Before we get into that, let’s be clear.
There is an increasing body-of-knowledge, that is Yes, based on correlational diet studies, which are full of all kinds of confounding-factors; I get it,
That shows with increasing-clarity that both Sugar and Alcohol look like bad things in excess not just for Obesity, but for serious disease.
And the recommendations for maximum-safe consumption are dropping like flies.
But the short-answer from the Danish study looks like: Yes, Alcohol in moderation really may help your brain avoid degenerative-disease. Read on to find out how…
Europe’s Current Maximum-Safe:
So those recommendations from before are looking like at least no more than:
1) 1 Drink A Day For Adult Women
2) 2 Drinks A Day For Adult Men
-And that’s on the liberal-side.
As said before, a recent but criticized study came out saying that NO amount of alcohol is safe! -YIKES!
Well the Danes would beg to differ.
-Especially when it comes to Alzheimer’s and Dementia!
Here’s What Their Tests Found:
So for 30 days, the researchers tested mice on different doses of alcohol.
Low, Moderate, and Very-High.
After that time, they measured the function in a recently-discovered system in the brain.
The one that cleans out all the junk, called the Glymphatic System.
-And yes, it looks like it does clean out all the junk that eventually can result in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Low-Dose Alcohol Makes Your Brain’s Cleaning-System Run Better:
What they found is that mice on a Low-Dose of alcohol fared better than those on either a Medium or a High-Dose.
And this was evidenced in many cognitive tests, including recovery from drinking, hangovers and others.
The most amazing thing researchers found was that the cleaning system in mice on Low-Dose alcohol actually worked Better than all the other groups.
Even better than the one that had No Alcohol At-All!
It’s All About The Dosage!:
The Low-Dose group also showed zero disturbances in sleep-patterns or quality.
And they also explored novel objects with the same amount and duration of curiosity as the abstaining mice.
The real interesting part that comes out in these studies is that though many researchers are suggesting appropriate-caution with alchol,
It’s really the Dosage that matters.
-Just like any other drug.
But the big problem with Alcohol is that there is a Cliff you quickly fall off-of.
But Watch-Out! Because The J-Curve Might Actually Kill You:
It’s called a J-Curve, or a Hockey-Stick Curve.
Everything is fine, then all-of-a-sudden, BOOM! -Consequences out of nowhere.
And that type of Risk-Profile is why researchers and doctors have been recently suggesting such caution with alcohol.
-Because it’s VERY Easy to overdo, and then you’ve got problems out of nowhere.
So in a way, it’s kind of more like Heroin when it comes to your health, than it is like apples.
Binge-Drinking Hurts You Longer Than Your Hangover Takes To Clear:
Researchers are finding out that an Overdose, will REALLY hurt you!
Not only that, but for over-drinkers, it’s not just about dehydration.
Researchers found that it took more than 24 hours for the Overdrinking mice to come down from their hangover,
And even then, it still took them a long time to reverse the damage to their white-matter in their brains that 30 days of heavy-drinking did to them.
Don’t Take These Results As Pure Gospel Or Go Crazy!:
Now as encouraging as the Copenhagen team’s results are, please Do Not take them as license to go drink more.
Because the average-dosage of alcohol for these mice was 2.5 Drinks/Day.
That is already 25% in-excess of the recommended limit for Adult Men,
And 150% over the Recommended-Limit for Adult Women.
This Was Not A Long-Term All-Cause Study:
Also, these mice were not followed-up over the long-term for other health problems that may occur as a result of that level of drinking,
And this was a Short-Term study, not one aimed at measuring an entire adult life of drinking like this.
So if anything it may suggest yet-again that the low-version of the safe-limits are not such a bad thing,
And that the studies saying no amount of alcohol is safe are perhaps overdoing it.
Ginkgo, Niacin, Resveratrol, Fish Oil. How Are These The Same?:
Now here’s an interesting footnote.
There are lots of different brain-boosters & pills out there.
A few I can think of are:
3) Fish Oil
5) Cardiovascular Exercise
And guess what common-factor a lot of these have together?
-Yup, a ton of pro-brain supplements and activities are just things that plain-old get your blood-flowing.
Well, The Glymphatic System may not run exclusively on blood,
But what if there’s a chance Increased-Circulation, which is another effect of Alcohol,
Helps that cleaning-system work too?
If You Overdo It, The J-Curve Will Still Hurt You:
But again, you have to be VERY careful because the J-Curve WILL bite you!
Because they found when examining the cleaning-system in the brains of Medium and Heavy drinking mice,
That it was working WORSE than the other groups.
It wasn’t just sub-normal in some benign or temporarily-slow way.
The whole system was both:
1) Producing MORE Inflammatory compounds.
2) MORE Backed-Up because the whole system stops working if the dose goes too high.
If You Overdo It, The J-Curve Will Still Hurt You:
So, if you have a mind to play Human Guinea-Pig and actually try this,
You MUST know that there are big penalties for having less than perfect conscientiousness.
So if you’re not super-disciplined, perhaps discretion is the better part of valor,
And more caution is better.
Right at the end of the university article, this research was stipulated as not being a recommendation to drink,
Nor to exceed the current agreed-upon safe limits set by the EU medical councils.
Timing Is Key! So Be Careful Of Your Sleep!:
Another one of the big problems with drinking is
You are not a lab rat, living under perfect conditions and getting the perfect dose of alcohol, at the perfect time of day for it to help you the most.
With that in mid, what time of day do most people go out and drink?
-Out at night with their friends, right?
And since Alcohol and its effects can stay in your system from 2-6 hours depending on your Age, Sex, Weight, Activity-Level, Lean-Mass, and other factors.
Guess what happens to your sleep when you drink too close to bedtime?
It gets disturbed and interrupted.
Guess What Other Bad Habit Linked to Alzheimer’s And Dementia Is?:
So that’s another needle you would be obligated to thread.
In the ideal-scenario, you would have to get your drinking done soon-enough that it couldn’t ruin your night of sleep.
And that means EARLY (like 2-6 hours before), which makes you look Charlie Day. -Great, but it’s the truth.
Maybe the best route is only 1 small glass with dinner, like the French do it.
Either Way, It’s An Amazing Step For A Difficult Problem:
So regardless of all the cautions,
It’s an amazing discovery on a recent health-boogeyman by some of the researchers who discovered the brain’s cleaning-system in the first place.
Because this isn’t one of those sketchy observational diet studies with near-zero controls on timing, heredity, smoking, red-meat, saturated fat, exercise, macronutrients, micronutrients, … the list goes on.
This is work done on very specific identical animals, all in identical circumstances, and with nearly-identical health-factors, all from a population with very similar genetics.
And they found something that Actually Freaking Reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s and Dementia!
Note: You Are Not OZZY:
Now, don’t celebrate too soon or too hard, because you to are not OZZY!,
And the study it would take to establish those results for humans would be difficult or impossible to conduct,
-But if you can keep yourself on that very tight leash, who knows?
Until there’s a pill we can take very day like a multivitamin to prevent Alzheimer’s,
Maybe low-dose alcohol helping to clean your brain of dangerous waste-products is some of the best news we have for now.
Photo Credits: “glasses”, by Pixel Anarchy
• Source: U. Copenhagen
• More Coverage: Danish Health – Alcohol Recommendations
• Source Study: Nature, SciRep. – Beneficial effects of low alcohol exposure, but adverse effects of high alcohol intake on glymphatic function