Even small amounts of alcohol a day may damage brain health, study finds
(NaturalHealth365) It has long been known that heavy drinking harms the brain. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to brain atrophy, which is nothing new. However, a recent study has shown that drinking as little as half a beer daily could lead to problems.
And from there, the situation only gets worse. So, what’s the truth about alcohol and the brain? Is drinking alcohol all that dangerous? How much is too much? Here’s what a recent study shows.
Research using dataset of more than 36,000 adults reveals alcohol may be more damaging than previously thought
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the data collected from more than 36,000 adults regarding alcohol consumption, brain volume, and health. The participants were gleaned from the UK Biobank, which also provided medical and genetic information on the subjects. The group was controlled for genetic ancestry, age, gender, height, smoking status, handedness, county of residence, and socioeconomic status.
The researchers looked at brain MRIs and used that to calculate the volume of white and gray matter in various brain regions. They also corrected the brain volume data for each individual’s head size. Each participant completed a survey regarding their levels of alcohol consumption which ranged from complete abstention to having more than four drinks a day.
When researchers grouped participants according to their alcohol consumption, that is when they noticed a pattern.
Scientists link alcohol consumption to reduction in brain volume
In the group that had no more than one drink or abstained completely, there was not much notable difference in brain volume. However, the group that had two to three drinks a day experienced reductions in both the white and gray matter. The more the subjects drank, the more brain volume they lost. It was also noted that the loss was not confined to a specific brain area.
Researchers compared the alcohol consumption-related brain volume loss to age-related brain volume loss. As we age, we lose some brain volume, and the high alcohol consumption mimicked that very closely.
In other words, the group that had an average of one drink a day experienced brain atrophy similar to half a year of aging. The group that had an average of four or more drinks daily experienced brain atrophy similar to more than ten years of aging.
Tips to make “mocktails” with brain-boosting ingredients
The truth is a single drink can harm your brain health. Undoubtedly, the best for your brain – and your overall health – is to stop drinking alcohol altogether.
Try making “mocktails” with healthier, brain-boosting ingredients to cut back on your favorite cocktails. For instance, you can create an antioxidant-rich mocktail of 100% low sugar grape juice and seltzer water for a breezy spritzer. Cranberry is another excellent choice. You can add a little apple juice, ginger, and a carbonated lemon-lime beverage for a tangy twist. Alternatively, you can try tart cherry juice with some fizzy water, and a twist of lime. Low sugar berry juices can closely mimic wine in taste and texture. For a dryer experience, add some unsweetened cranberry juice to taste.
Try different natural juices and combine them to create your own brain-boosting mocktail. Berries are very rich in antioxidants and vitamins; just choose the low sugar varieties. You can enjoy your own mocktails without damaging your brain. All it takes is a little creativity and a sense of adventure.
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