Drinking to Drive Off Dementia
Join me in a toast?
Cheers! (Prost, salute, and L'chaim too!)
It’s official. Well…about as official as we can get at any rate. Moderate drinking…a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women…offers an impressive amount of protection against Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.
The debate over whether or not there are any health benefits to having an occasional drink has raged on for years. And goodness knows there have certainly been many passionate and compelling arguments both for and against an occasional nip.
But now a research team from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine says we can finally stop all the teeth gnashing because moderate drinking can be a healthy habit and they’ve got the numbers to prove it.
The team gathered together the data from 143 studies on the subject, carefully sifted through all the facts and figures. In the end they concluded that moderate social drinking significantly reduces our risk of suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairment.
In fact, after crunching the numbers on more than 365,000 participants, the Loyola scientists found that moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop any type of cognitive impairment or dementia. And the results are pretty rock solid, holding up even after adjustments were made for age, sex, education level, and smoking.
Two theories are being floated to explain the reduced risks among moderate drinkers. The first is related to what we already know about drinking in moderation.
Moderate drinking has been shown to have some heart benefits, such as raising HDL cholesterol levels. The Loyola researchers theorize that a healthy side effect from those cardiovascular benefits may be increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
The second is what I like to call the “what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger” theory. The basic premise is that moderate alcohol use mildly stresses our brain cells, in effect toughening them up and making them better able to cope with the big-time stresses of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia down the road.
Oh, and if you prefer a cocktail or beer to a glass of wine, feel free to indulge. Although wine did edge out beer and spirits it wasn’t by a landslide, and with so few of the studies making a distinction between types of alcohol the findings are not really statistically significant.
Now it should go without saying that if you’re a teetotaler you shouldn’t decide to take up drinking alcohol based on these results. There are plenty of other positive things that you can do for your brain health. In fact, just this past Monday I covered another great way to protect your brain against Alzheimer’s…exercise.
This news has left me wondering if my new favorite toast…“through the lips, past the gums, watch out brain, here it comes”…will finally catch on.
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About the author
An enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 17-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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