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... Because it's All in Your Mind!


Memory Spring Monthly

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for Your Brain Health?


Alcohol to Brain Health - Cropped
A recent study revealed that middle-aged men who consume more than 36 grams of alcohol (two and a half alcoholic drinks) per day may speed up their memory loss by nearly six years. 
The study, released in the journal Neurology, showed significant, quantifiable loss of cognitive powers akin to premature aging in those middle aged males who consumed more than two and a half alcoholic drinks per day. The study, which began in 1985, focused on 7,513 British civil servants who were members of the so-called Whitehall II cohort.  Every four years, members of the cohort had been surveyed on health habits (including alcohol consumption) and undergone a number of examinations. Testing started in 1997 and was repeated at three intervals, the last in 2009 when the people ranged in age from 55 to 80.
While heavy drinking middle-aged men suffered, women were not nearly as affected, though women who abstained from alcohol for 10 years showed a faster cognitive decline than moderate female drinkers.  The researchers of this study have cautioned against coming to any conclusions about the apparent gender difference.
Does this mean that all alcohol consumption is bad for your memory and brain health?  No.  There is some research that shows that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce your chance of dementia and, in some cases, improve your memory performance. For instance:  
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who drank moderately were 54% less likely to develop dementia than people who never drank.  In the study, “moderate” meant drinking between one to six glasses of alcohol per week.
Another study in France and Denmark revealed people 65 years and older, who drank a modest two to three glasses of red wine each day fared slightly better than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers on cognitive tests. 
What is it about moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine that provides benefit to the brain? The big thing here is that there are shared risk factors between cardiovascular disease and cognition. People who suffer strokes, heart attacks and atherosclerosis often also suffer from mental decline due to impaired blood flow the brain. Red wine is a bonus because it contains resveratrol, a naturally occurring, powerful polyphenol (plant-derived) compound that has significant antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants neutralize the plethora of free radicals that intend to wreak havoc on our critical cellular functions. In addition, a study by John Hopkins University, concludes that resveratrol levels may be a key player in protecting the brain during a stroke by elevating specific enzyme levels. While research at Cornell University, indicates that resveratrol has the unique ability to decrease plaque formation in animal brains as they age, highlighting the potential for the same in Alzheimer’s patient. 
Now that you’re aware of this data, it is not recommended that you run out and start consuming alcohol if you’re currently abstaining.  If you do consume alcohol on a regular basis, then a little bit of self control can pay major dividends for your brain. Just don’t go out and drive or operate heavy machinery.  For more information on alcohol and brain health, contact us at 530-297-6464 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..