Obviously there are adverse side effects to excessive alcohol consumption (like, um, causing damage to pretty much all of your vital organs and your central nervous system). This study, however, examined the effects of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption—specifically what would translate to about two and a half glasses of wine per day—and found that it improved the brain's ability to remove toxins and damaging proteins (which have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease). While it's important to note this study was done on mice, it's also of interest that said mice experienced lower levels of inflammation as a result of the happy-hour indulgences.
"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.” — Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, lead study author
“Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system,” lead study author Maiken Nedergaard, MD, lead study author said in a press release. “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.”
But, as with almost anything (even activated charcoal and avocados), too much can lead to unpleasant consequences. The researchers found that, aside from the usual gamut of side effects related to excessive alcohol consumption, the mice experienced cognitive decline, which worsened the brain's ability to flush out the potentially dementia-causing toxins.
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