Drinking to excess (i.e. drinking) is bad for your health. It causes all kinds of bad stuff to happen to you, from shameful hookups to cancer. But there is a growing body of evidence that light drinking is actually health-promoting. A new study shows that drinking red wine in moderation may actually extend the longevity of your brain cells.
The scientific literature suggests that moderate drinking can reduce your general mortality risk, as well as improve your heart health. The new findings about alcohol and brain health stand contrary to popular belief, that alcohol kills brain cells.
The new study, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, shows that compounds in red wine make brain cells more robust, and able to withstand more stressors. The researchers exposed human neurons to these compounds, and then subjected them to conditions that mimicked brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The cells that were saturated in red wine metabolites had lower mortality than the cells that were not. In short, red wine helps your brain cells live longer.
In a press release, the research team stated that the experiment highlights the direct relationship between the stomach and the brain. Many factors need to be in place for red wine to help your health. You need the precise metabolite composition of red wine and an abundance of healthy bacteria in your gut to break them down.
The study also suggests that eating foods that promote growth of gut bacteria may help in this process.
So if you already eat a lot of probiotics and drink the occasional glass of red wine, you may be in great shape for helping your neurons fire and keep firing as you age. If you don’t eat probiotics, if you’re already eating lots of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, you’re probably in good shape as well.
It’s important to note that your brain only enjoys these benefits if you’re drinking red wine in moderation. The study does not cover other kinds of alcohol, and if you drink even red wine to excess, the health costs outweigh the benefits.
When in doubt, it’s probably wiser to err on the side of less wine over more. As difficult as that can be to do, especially in social settings. But if you’re just enjoying a glass or two with dinner, then keep it to one or two.
Hopefully this study is predictive of a trend of science that tells us to enjoy our lives.