As if we needed more evidence that drinking is good for you, a new study from the University of Rochester (UR) has found that consuming alcohol in moderate doses may be good for tidying up your brain.
The study, published on nature.com’s Scientific Reports on Friday noted, for the first time ever, that consuming low doses of alcohol can benefit brain health. Specifically, that low levels of alcohol intake decreased inflammation and removed toxins from the brains of mice.
According to International Business Times, Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study, said in a EurekAlert news advisory that while “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 it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste.”
Now, usually when studies say “moderate alcohol consumption,” they define it as something absurdly low, like one drink a day for men and half a drink for women. But in the UR study, mice consumed the equivalent of about two and a half drinks per day for 30 days. Pretty legit.
“The main finding of this study is that a low dose of ethanol, comparable to 2.6 daily drink equivalents (for a 70 kg person) per day, increases glymphatic function in mice, which is expected to facilitate clearance of metabolic waste and potentially toxic proteins from the interstitial fluid,” says the study. “This beneficial effect of light alcohol intake was linked to a decreased GFAP expression in astrocytes.”
This is not only a great morale boost for moderate drinkers—it could also point to potential benefits of alcohol consumption for those with Alzheimer’s. Nedergaard told International Business Times that the next stage in her research will be “to look at the effects of low-level alcohol in Alzheimer’s.”
Drinking in excess is still definitely bad for you, but we can sleep easier knowing that our daily tipple might be doing our brains a favor.